MANILA, Philippines -- The NCAA never considered cancelling its 96th season, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that forced other leagues to overhaul their plans.
The NCAA put an early stop to Season 95 in March 2020 due to the global health crisis, but an outright cancellation of Season 96 was never on the table for them, according to Management Committee chairman Vic Calvo.
"Ine-emphasize ko lagi 'yung resilience," said Calvo, the athletic director of Season 96 host Colegio de San Juan de Letran. "Kailangan mag-adjust tayo."
"Hindi kami nag-cancel," he stressed. "We're flexible, we're resilient. Hindi kami nag-give up."
The NCAA made several changes to its sports program. Initially, plans were to hold just the four mandatory sports -- volleyball, basketball, swimming, and athletics.
Ultimately, however, the league could only hold competition on virtual platforms. For Season 96, their events are online chess and taekwondo in its non-contact forms (poomsae and speed kicking).
Plans are also underway for volleyball and basketball skills challenges, although this depends on the approval of relevant government agencies including the IATF and the Commission on Higher Education.
Regardless, Calvo is proud that they are able to put together a season.
"Against all odds, we will really push through with this season," he said. "Remember, 'yung iba nag-declare na cancelled 'yung season."
The UAAP in December announced that they will not hold an 83rd season in light of the pandemic, with the health and safety of their student-athletes and other stakeholders as the major consideration.
"Kami talaga, from the start, we really believe na merong season. We never cancelled our season. When you interviewed us… we never said na cancelled 'yung season. We really said na tuloy 'yung season," Calvo said proudly.
The NCAA will open Season 96 on June 13, with online chess games to be aired the next day.
Calvo believes that pushing through with their season, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, bodes well for the NCAA once the situation in the country improves.
"If we can work during the pandemic, how much more during the normal times?" he said. "Parang test of our will and resiliency 'to."