By REY C. LACHICA
When PBA legend Vergel Meneses was still soaring and gliding over his defenders, two of his avid fans were his daughters.
One of them was Roni.
Roni and her sister were often seen sitting enthusiastically behind the bench of his father’s team and would celebrate with their hearts out each time the former MVP winner made one beautiful play after another.
Long after Meneses had called it a day as a player, and became the coach of his Alma Mater – the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers – Roni was still cheering for his father’s team in the NCAA.
Although Meneses had little success as a coach, Roni did not abandon him.
And now that Meneses is the mayor of Bulakan town in Bulacan, Roni is very supportive to her father’s numerous projects.
But there was a role reversal.
The 5-foot-6 Roni is now trying to spread her own wings while the former PBA superstar admitted that he has been reduced to a cheerleader – at least for now.
Roni is one of the favorites in the 2021 Miss Philippines Earth beauty pageant set this Aug. 8 having excelled in school and any endeavor she had entered into in the past.
“Mula pagkabata, kasa-kasama mo sa practice and number one cheerleader ko silang magkapatid mula nung naglalaro pa ako hanggang naging coach ako,” Meneses.Did the many-time national team member resist her daughter’s plan to join the beauty contest?
Nope. In fact, Meneses has glowing words for Roni.
“Hindi pinabayaan ang pag-aaral. Naging honor student silang magkapatid sa Poveda and UP. Kaya nung humingi siya ng permiso na sasali sa Miss Earth, di ako nag-atubili na suportahan siya kasama ang kanyang Ate Via.”
Roni, 26, is no stranger to beauty contest. She was the previous winner of Miss Mandaluyong.
Her goal is to educate and encourage other people to be more aware of the different environmental issues and situations the Earth is facing.
“We have to make a conscious effort in trying to have a greener and more sustainable lifestyle for the protection and preservation of Mother Earth,” she said.
“Specifically, it is my advocacy to promote moving towards a plant based diet, not only for the health of our bodies, but also for the health and longevity of the planet.”
The pressure seems high, but Roni is unfazed, saying she has to stay upbeat and focused – a trait she acquired from her father.
And she is using the accomplishments of her father as her extra motivation to aim and fly high – perhaps higher than what the “Aerial Voyager” had achieved as a player before.
But one thing is for sure, whatever success Roni will achieve someday, her father will always be a part of it. Vergel Meneses is after all her MVP for life.