Peyups in Diliman is a haven for those who want to try different types of sports. Where else in the Philippines can you find a university that offers a wide array of physical education courses to its students? From self-defense to ball games; from stretching to water sports. They even offer courses like bridge/poker for those who don’t like to sweat.

When I got admitted to the university, I planned to take up marksmanship, archery, fencing and aikido, which my older sister collectively termed as my ‘dream sports’. Sophisticated, apollonian individual sports, a rather perfect foil to the boisterous team sports I enjoyed in high school. Yet of the four, three were like whiffs of smoke, so elusive. Me versus the queue during enlistment. Dream sports indeed.

My failure to enlist in one of the ‘dream sports’ in my first semester in the university led me to the sweaty world of badminton, or rather my love-hate relationship with the shuttlecock. Early in that semester, I easily wowed my girly classmates with my smashes, net kills and overheads; strokes I blithely learned while playing casual badminton with my high school buddies.

Oh, it was so easy to go for the kill because our class consists mostly of mga babaeng lupaypay at kikay. Saan kayo nakakakita ng mga naglalaro ng badminton na naka-makeup at ayaw pinapawisan? Being physically fit really helped me in maintaining the stamina required in playing badminton. Indeed, I was on my way of becoming one of the top badminton girl players in class. I even briefly entertained the notion of applying for the varsity. However, my dream to stardom was smashed to oblivion when our instructor announced the whazzits for the final competition. At first I thought there was a mistake and for a moment there i was really tempted to shout ‘di ako bakla! babae po ako!’ (a pre-Tuesday sentiment). But it was confirmed – I will compete for the mixed doubles, not doubles and, to make matters worse, I will compete against some of the guys for the singles.

The guys in class could exert faster shuttercock speed and were masters of deception. So it was so frustrating to see myself competing with guys while seeing rest of the girls in class happily swing their rackets with no thoughts of attack formations and techniques. Most of the time, I ended up looking for the missing projectile and demonstrating the infamous rear-end stroke — knees bent, butt up, head down, left-hand gripping the racket in forehand position, right-hand stretched forward to pick the shuttlecock.

I would have happily welcomed the challenge of competing with the guys in class (some of them later became university varsity players) if I had been prepared for such level of explosive athleticism. Not that I hate losing, its just that I felt so incompetent, so unprepared. And I have to add ‘so naked’ to complete that litany of negative feelings, because wearing the skimpiest maroon gym shorts in class left me, a certified manang, so exposed.

Our instructor, I believe, was not happy with my performance in the finals, she gave me 1.75. I’m not bitter considering she was the one who ‘misplaced’ me. I was just utterly thankful that I finished a semester of a physically-demanding sports without earth-shaking mishaps and broken limbs.

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