By Bea Micaller
Friendship has no color.
That holds true for volleyball stars Carmela Tunay of Petron and Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics, two completely different individuals who forged a special bond because of friendship, respect and genuine concern for each other.
Nobody thought that they would become a team.
While Fajardo is quiet and very private, opting to work and improve her game in silence than go out with friends, Tunay is very outgoing because of the nature of her work.
In fact, aside from Petron, Tunay also juggles other things like hosting, acting, courtside reporting and product endorsements while working on her Master’s Degree in Marketing at University of Santo Tomas (UST).
But more than that, they knew each other from the opposite side of the court.
“She played in La Salle while I played for UST. We played against each other,” said Tunay, the 24-year old open spiker who is campaigning for the Blaze Spikers in the ongoing Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference.
“We know that Kim’s coaches in La Salle were very strict. Sometimes, they were not allowed to go outside. So what I did was to adjust and go to their school to visit her even if I had no idea how to commute during that time.”
On the same note, Tunay’s coach would often tease her.
“Coach Odjie (Mamon) often says that I’m daydreaming whenever we play La Salle. He said I was so out of focus that Kim would launch a drop ball right in front of me,” she said, breaking into a smile.
“But it was our friendship that motivated me to do better during games. Even if we often lose to La Salle, I always try to give my best, and, apparently, there were times that I would be the highest pointer despite the loss.”
But the beautiful friendship doesn’t start with a “hello.”
It started with a fierce battle inside the court.
“I remember that we played against each other in the Uni-Games in Bacolod in 2012,” said Tunay, adding that Fajardo suffered an injury in that tournament.
A week later, Fajardo made a random visit to her friends at UST, where she played high school volleyball
“Her friends at that time happened to be my friends as well. They introduced me to Kim, but I only knew her as someone I played against in Bacolod.”
Their first actual conversation started on social media.
Tunay posted a tweet about the ever-changing schedule of games in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), which involved their opening game against La Salle.
Then, somebody made a reply.
It was Kim.
But still, the butterflies were not yet there.
“We only had our real conversation during the debut party of my teammate, Jessey de Leon,” said Tunay, admitting that their discussion was a little more casual since she was still in a relationship at that time.
“But when the relationship ended in December, that was the time that I got to know more about Kim. That’s the time we became friends, actually very good friends.”
The more she got to know her, the deeper their friendship became.
With Fajardo, she realized that not all things have price tags.
“In fact, Kim and I like to pig out in carinderia,” said Tunay, stressing that Fajardo is so simple and low key that she would trade a humble sidewalk eatery over a fancy restaurant.
But when her father yielded to liver cancer in 2014, everything changed.
Tunay became the breadwinner, leaving her without a choice but to juggle her work and studies.
And during those trying times, Fajardo didn’t let go of her hand.
“She was there for me,” she said.
“It was Kim who taught me the value of acceptance and how it would help me move on with my life. She told me that whatever life is throwing at me, I have to accept it and move further.”
“With her, I became more matured, not only in volleyball, but in all aspects of life in general. It’s all about acceptance and moving on.”
There was a tinge of sweetness in Tunay’s voice as she went on to narrate her beautiful friendship with Fajardo.
You can sense the happiness, contentment and pride.
They may have different colors, but their friendship would never fade — forever.