Ish Polvorosa soars high as rookie public servant-athlete

MANILA, Philippines – In a span of one month, Ish Polvorosa played his last UAAP game, completed his Ateneo academic requirements to be a candidate for graduation, continued to see action in a semi-pro club, and got elected as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman of Barangay Anubu-2B in Imus, Cavite. 

It might just be the start of many more daunting tasks, but the reigning UAAP Best Setter does not plan on letting go of both his national team dreams and SK presidency hopes. 

Polvorosa played in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games once in 2015, but now looks to return to the national team, especially after Ateneo revealed that its volleyball players including Marck Espejo and Jia Morado didn't receive invitations to the 2017 national team tryouts

"My main goal as an athlete right now after my Ateneo or UAAP stint is to play for the Philippines in the coming SEA Games," said Polvorosa. 

A post shared by Ish Polvorosa (@ishpolvorosa) on Jun 15, 2015 at 6:09am PDT 

But now with his new duties in the SK, the Blue Eagle remains determined to find ways to sustain his prime performance on court as he dreams of playing in the regional tournament at home. 

"I'll really find a way to still be in shape and to be in my more competitive form kasi it’s one of the ways to serve the country – to play for the country, to play for our flag. I won’t miss that opportunity to play on our home court." 

While vying for a national team spot, Polvorosa also wants to become a greater voice for the youth in Imus, Cavite by running for the SK presidency with the encouragement of the other chairpersons in the city. 

"From the leadership inside the court, it’s going to be the leadership in our city, and to be the real voice of the youth in the city, like someone they can depend on," said Polvorosa.

Unlike his Ateneo days when he had access to the school dormitory, Polvorosa travels back and forth from Cavite to Katipunan to train with his Premier Volleyball League team Cignal HD Spikers and to fulfill his duties back in his hometown. 

Banking on his experience in the UAAP, Polvorosa expects his winning mindset and strong will to carry over to his current city duties.

"As a setter, this is what all the coaches tell their setters: ‘You’re the last to give up’. Pero for me, as a setter, I’m the one inside the court who will never ever give up until the last point," said Polvorosa.

"‘Yun 'yung pinakanakakatulong sa akin ngayon na (It's what's helping me the most now that) whatever happens in this path that I’m taking, I’m never going to give up with I want to do and of course my belief, my trust, my faith in the youth."

Gonna go out there and give it my all. For the Blue and White. One last time. In one week. A post shared by Ish Polvorosa (@ishpolvorosa) on Jan 28, 2018 at 4:19am PST 

Grassroots experience  

It just suddenly hit the decorated setter that he found his life's purpose in serving others, especially in his hometown. 

Polvorosa continues to believe that his volleyball career wouldn't be as successful now if his barangay did not conduct the free volleyball clinics he attended when he was young. 

"Meron mga volunteers na tinuruan kami volleyball clinics everyday noong summer, noong bata pa ako. Nagtuturo sila kahit walang bayad. Passion lang nila, gusto lang nila nakikita na nag-iimprove yung mga tinuturuan nila, na ma-impart nila yung knowledge nila," recalled Polvorosa. 

(When I was still young, there were volunteers who taught us volleyball everyday in the summer. They taught volleyball even without pay. It was just pure passion and they just wanted to see their students improve and to impart their knowledge.) 

Former Blue Eagles head coach Oliver Almadro and the Ateneo men's volleyball team were active in conducting free volleyball exhibitions and spearheading sports clinics like the Ateneo Volleyball Camp. Polvorosa also helped out in another volleyball camp, which had a registration fee for participants.

Proud coach right here!  WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!  #PinkTeam #TeamBarbie #AteneoVolleyballCamp A post shared by Ish Polvorosa (@ishpolvorosa) on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:20pm PDT 

Looking back, Polvorosa saw that the kids were really motivated to pursue the sport. It was the same thing his first teachers back in Imus saw in him. 

"Tapos may makikita ka na iba na hindi nila afford ‘yon, so ano gagawin mo? Magkaiba 'yung [camp with registration fees] tsaka 'yung Ateneo Volleyball Camp kasi isa may bayad and isa wala, and that’s what I’m saying na I’ve seen both worlds." 

(You'll see some kids who can't afford it, so what do you do? The camp with registration fees and the Ateneo Volleyball Club are different because one needs a fee while the other is free, and this is what I'm saying that I've seen both worlds.)

"Katulad ako noong bata ako, di ko naman afford matuto ng volleyball (Like when I was a kid, I couldn't afford to learn volleyball)," shared Polvorosa. 

"My mother would have to pay or my father would have to send us money from abroad just for me to learn how to play volleyball kaya sobrang swerte ko rin eh (that's why I'm really lucky)." 

This experience helped Polvorosa decide to run for SK, where some of the duties include education and youth sports development. 

"Ayoko na magpapaliga ka lang, magpapa-beauty pageant ka lang, and all or magpapa-feeding program ka kasi masyado na ‘yon gasgas. I can do free clinics kasi ‘yung nag-volunteer sa akin noong time ko, nag-vovolunteer pa rin sila hanggang ngayon," explained Polvorosa. 

(I don't want to just hold a league, a beauty pageant and a feeding program because it's been done over and over ain. I can do free clinics because there are volunteers there who are for sure still volunteering from the time I was still young.) 

At the same time, Polvorosa wants to target the grassroots level in the community as his experiences from training abroad made him realize how the Philippine sports program has been left behind.

"Ang bagal ng progress [sa Pilipinas] kaya tayo napag-iiwanan ng ibang bansa kasi sila bata palang, simula palang, meron na talagang program sa mga pinakamababang level pa lang," said Polvorosa. 

(The process is so slow in the Philippines that we get left behind by other countries because at the beginning, they already have program for the youth at the lowest level.) 

"Start it in your own subdivision, in your own barangay, in your own village and if that’s all for free, doon na tayo pumasok na rin sa recruitment phase, so sobrang healthy, marami pwede ma-recruit ‘yung coaches. Di mo na kailangan na turuan pa sila ng basics and all kasi marunong na sila."

 (Then that's when we take it to the recruitment phase, so it's healthy that coaches can have a lot of options during recruitment. They don't have to teach them the basics because they already know it.)

I graduated from this school very inspired, but was also so uncertain of what would happen next in my life. Now that I'm back here again, I am beyond ecstatic to have served as an inspiration to the children of my Alma Mater. Wishing these children the best in their future endeavors. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, A2ES family!  God bless us all!  "No matter where you come from, dreams are valid." -Lupita Nyongo A post shared by Ish Polvorosa (@ishpolvorosa) on Mar 26, 2015 at 6:13pm PDT 








Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.