A prominent Thai club is looking to acquire one of the crown jewels of Philippine volleyball – Jaja Santiago.
In an e-mail sent to Philippine Superliga (PSL) president Ramon Suzara Thursday afternoon, Somchai Donpraiyod of the Thailand Volleyball Association was asking of Santiago would be available to play for Bangkok Glass in the prestigious Thailand Volleyball League (TVL).
Donpraiyod, the manager of the Thai national team, said Bangkok Glass is in need of an import, who would help stars like Pornpun Guedpard, Sutadta Chuewulim and skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow in their quest to regain the crown following a sorry loss to rival Supreme Chonburi early this year.
Santiago stands to receive a hefty salary of $4,000 — or roughly P200,000 – every month, easily allowing her to earn a cool P1.2 million at the end of her six-month contract.
She will also be given an apartment, similar to what previous imports like Ashley Frazier and Jordanne Scott of the United States and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa of Vietnam used to receive.
The only problem, however, is the schedule.
Donpraiyod, who is also the international relations manager of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), explained that Santiago’s contract will run from end of October to end of March, directly colliding with the schedule of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) where she would play her final year with National University.
Donpraiyod emphasized that Bangkok Glass officials are keen on hiring only Santiago and she has to come up with an answer by Saturday morning to beat the deadline for the submission of O-2 Form (final roster).
“The offer is USD 4,000 per month (for a) six-month contract (with) apartment. If she agrees, they would want her to travel (here) ASAP.”
“The problem is they have to apply O-2 by Saturday morning. So whether it’s a yes or a no, can she give us the answer by Saturday?”
Suzara said he is proud that Santiago’s talent is now being recognized, following an impressive performance for the national squad in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
He said he reached out to Santiago and she couldn’t believe her luck.
She, in fact, vowed to think things over and revert to him as soon as possible.
“The PSL is very glad that her talent is now being recognized.”
“I understand that she couldn’t say ‘yes’ immediately due to her commitment with NU and Foton. But nevertheless, being offered by a top Thai team in Bangkok Glass is already a testament that her hard work is now paying off.”
It is not the first time for Santiago to be given a very tempting offer.
A couple of years back, a prestigious program in the Division I of the US NCAA – University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) – toyed with the idea of awarding her an athletic scholarship.
Santiago was just a wide-eyed teen-ager back then, making the transition from Tanza, Cavite to Westwood in Los Angeles quite difficult to bear.
She said she was intrigued by the offer, but she had to turn it down with a heavy heart because she was not yet ready to live away from her family.
Now, another offer emerges.
And Suzara gave her a piece of fatherly advice.
“I told her to grab it.”
“This is just a once in a lifetime opportunity. More than the attractive salary, which could be a big help to her family, the most important things are the lessons she would gain while training and playing with all those Thai stars. Her club as well as the national team would both benefit from it.”
If and when Santiago decides to give it a go, she would be the second Filipino women’s volleyball player to see action outside the country.
Alyssa Valdez blazed the trail when she suited up for 3BB Nakornonnt, which finished fifth in the TVL last year.
Right now, the former Ateneo ace is in Taipei to campaign for Attack Line.