CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental — It was a perfect homecoming for the son and daughter of the City of Golden Friendship.
In front of a roaring crowd inside the massive Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center perched on top of a breezy mountain, Gerflor head coach Sammy Acaylar and Akari winger Erika Raagas were showered with loud applause as their names were called during their Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference match on Saturday.
Showered with applause and cheers, they both received plaques of recognition from no less than CDO Mayor Rolando Uy for their achievements in the sport of volleyball.
Acaylar, a multi-titled mentor and former national team coach, was grateful for the city’s gesture.
“It has always been an ambition of mine to contribute and help Cagayan De Oro City in whatever way I can because I grew up here,” Acaylar said.
“I’m super happy because I get to return here and this time with PVL holding games here. I am so proud. I didn’t expect that they would give me an acknowledgment,” he added.
“I have received numerous recognitions in Manila and this is the first time that I got one from Cagayan de Oro City. This is extra special for me.”
For Raagas, her hometown game turned into a family reunion as her family, relatives and friends all came to see her in action.
“Right now, I feel like they’re over 80. Some I guess were outside because in the patron alone I think there are 26 of them and then up on the bleachers around 50. Then there’s some who bought (tickets) on their own so I don’t know the exact number,” Raagas, who grew up and began her volleyball career here.
Raagas did not disappoint as she scored five points in the Chargers’ 25-18, 25-15, 25-19, win that ended their three-game skid for a 4-4 win-loss record.
“Super, super humbling to see the people I grew up with, the people who supported me from the very beginning. My heart was full when I returned here and then to show them the person that I’ve become. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” Raagas said.
Both Acaylar and Raagas went back to Manila on Sunday happy and inspired to continue their respective PVL campaigns.