Filipino pride Jaja Santiago unveiled that Ageo Medics have been urging her to stay longer, even willing to grant her Japanese citizenship following her recent title run in the Japan V Cup.

/ 5 April 2021

The 25-year-old middle blocker shared in an interview with Anton Roxas of Volleyball DNA on Saturday where she talked about her decision to remain with Saitama Ageo Medics despite offers from her looming offers from other teams and other leagues.

Kalagitnaan pa lang ng liga, gusto na nila ako mag-stay. Gusto nilang palitan yung nationality ko actually,” Santiago said.

Gusto nila ako mag-stay pa dun at tulungan palitan yung nationality ko,” she bared.

That would make Santiago, who has been competing with the Ageo Medics for three years, eligible to play in the country as a local and a big shot at playing in the Olympics. 

Although the 6-foot-5 Santiago’s lifelong dream is to wear and compete on a big stage, the Olympics, Santiago remains hesitant to continue representing the Philippines.

“Well, may dream akong maglaro ng Olympics, pero gusto ko munang … syempre may pride pa rin naman ako, Pilipino pa rin naman ako di ba? Gusto kong tulungan ‘yung bansa natin. Doon sa goal ko na ’yun, gusto ko kasama ko yung mga kapwa Pilipino ko,” she averred.

The Japan team has played in the Olympics twice in the past four cycles of the quadrennial event.

Although the offer is quite tempting, the national stalwart admitted that it lingers at the back of her mind of having another option when unfavorable results happen. 

Kung wala talagang chance, why not? It’s on the back of my mind na pwede,” said Santiago.

For now, Santiago still relishes the milestone she has accomplished and admitted that she is still committing for Ageo Medics helping them to end an eight-year championship drought.

Gusto ko makuha yung opportunity na makapaglaro sa mataas na team pero ayoko rin iwan yung opportunity ng Brazilian coach ko sa Ageo. Bago lang siya e. Sabi nga niya, may magandang plano siya sa akin kaya kailangan kong mag-stay,” she said.

Hindi ko ine-expect na mangyayari ito — na magcha-champion kami at ako ang makakakuha ng first Filipino to win a championship internationally. Nakaka-proud na kahit Pilipino tayo…”