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Claim to Fame: Played collegiate volleyball for Ateneo de Manila University, currently playing for FC Tokyo
From a simple goal of scoring a scholarship that could take him through university life, Marck Espejo is now repping the Philippines as an import player in Japan. But despite the countries he’s visited and the teams he’s played for, his roots are deeply ingrained in the Filipino’s inherent love for sport.
What’s been the biggest shock to you in terms of how sports has grown in the Philippines?
That time I started volleyball talagang ginamit ko siya bilang instrument para makapasok at makakuha ng scholarship sa magandang school. I was just thinking na pang long term kasi education nga. I never knew na makikilala ang volleyball sa Pilipinas at swerte ako na nag boom siya sa time ko when I was in Ateneo.
The biggest shock is that maraming Filipino athletes represent our country abroad.
What defines the sports culture in the Philippines, and what makes it unique from other countries?
For me na naglaro na abroad—I’ve been to Japan, Thailand and Bahrain—it’s really the fans. To be honest, kung hindi sa dahil sa fans, hindi magiging ganto kalaki ang volleyball sa Pilipinas. Of course the media is there, the teams are there pero ang pag support and pag hype ng fans ang dahilan kung bakit sikat ang Philippine volleyball ngayon.
Why do you think Filipinos have such an interest in sports?
Filipinos like sports. Parang di natin kaya mabuhay kung walang sports sa Pilipinas. It’s already part of our culture and our life. May mga times na naglalakad ako or bibili tapos may mga tao nakatingin sayo kasi ang tangkad mo, tatanong “Nag babasketball ka ba?” I know basketball talaga ang go-to sport ng mga Pinoy, I’m just happy na pati ibang sports, especially volleyball, ay nakikilala na.
How do you think sports help define the Filipino identity outside of just sports?
Mahirap siya define eh pero one thing for sure: sport is sport. Kahit anong sport mo, once napagusapan na yon parang small community na. It’s already part of our culture.
If you could have known how big the sports community would get, how would you have prepared for it differently?
Personally siguro sobrang nag focus talaga ako sa conditioning at skills sa volleyball. I was still in Ateneo five years ago, inisip ko lang talaga mag aral and to get my diploma kasi it’s for long term. I didn’t expect na pwede pala makalaro abroad. Maging import sa mga club teams around the world. Pero ngayon I’m happy na I’m doing what I love to do, which is volleyball. I’ve been to Japan, Thailand, Bahrain. I’m happy pero I won’t stop parin kasi may ibang goals ako in life and sa career ko bilang professional volleyball player.
Fill in the blanks for us: Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by ____ and kept alive by ___.
Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by our growing consciousness and knowledge of the world, and kept alive by living our thirst and hunger for self-improvement and positive character development.
Another one: It’s about time that Complex arrived in the Philippines because ____.
It’s about time Complex arrived in the Philippines because it brings out hidden talent and exposes Filipino talents.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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