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Meet Kaye Martinez: Championing volleyball and sustainability

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Meet Kaye Martinez: Championing volleyball and sustainability
The ripples of change were slow, and Martinez Kaye came to the conclusion that if she wanted to make a contribution, it had to come in the form of government.

MANILA, Philippines – Almost all her life, people kept telling Kaye Martinez that she cannot do this and that she cannot accomplish that.

For Sta. Maria, Bulacan-born and bred Martinez, it is also partly proving people wrong. But the raison d’etre is to pursue several passions.

The earliest of which is volleyball. 

She took up the sport as a fifth grader at Golden Values School in Pasig. By her senior year in high school at OB Montessori in Greenhills, she was team captain. 

Her older sister was so proud that she went over to their neighbor’s house in Sta. Maria to inform him that Kaye was going to try out for the De La Salle University Lady Spikers. That neighbor is La Salle’s long-time champion coach Ramil de Jesus.

“When I got there, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I am in the land of the giants and a much higher level of volleyball,’” Kaye laughed as she recalled that day. This was the team of Jackie Alarca, Michelle Gumabao, Chie Saet and others. 

Martinez was lined up for Team B and had to work her way up to the UAAP lineup.

Kaye Martinez during her playing days with La Salle.
Photo from ubelt.com

De Jesus then postulated that she will either quit the team or switch courses from Civil Engineering to something lighter to better cope with the volleyball team’s schedule. But Kaye not only got her Bachelor in Science degree, but she is the first member of DLSU’s starting six — and a UAAP champion at that in Season 71 — to accomplish that feat but also pass the board as well.

After briefly working in a construction project of her father’s in Isabela, Kaye decided to take up higher studies. And in 2013, she received her Master’s Degree in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University. 

“What I took from my years in La Salle is being determined to achieve the goals I set for myself,” was her reflection from those years. “I also had to develop a thick skin because it was emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. I ate PIs for breakfast and on national television. I realize it was also to toughen me up because whatever was said my way during my playing years prepared me for politics.”

That other passion? It is to serve.

After taking her masters abroad, she was persuaded to come home even if she wasn’t really dead set on doing that. Kaye began teaching in La Salle what she learned but found herself increasingly frustrated.

By 2015, I felt that I could not apply what I learned because we’re 20 steps behind sustainability here in the Philippines,” she explained. “Here it is about putting food on the table and everything else is in the backseat like climate change issues. But climate change issues are affecting our livelihood and way of life.”

The ripples of change were slow, and Kaye came to the conclusion that if she wanted to make a contribution, it had to come in the form of government.

She decided to run for councilor in her hometown of Sta. Maria. Her family at first did not believe it was a good idea. Moreover, she was running as an independent candidate. No independent candidate has won a councilor’s seat in her hometown.

Challenged, she ran for public office with her family’s full support and a platform on sustainability. “I know I cannot change the world, I wanted to do what I can to [solve] the climate crisis problem and how we can fix our town.”

And Kaye Martinez defied the odds and town’s history by becoming the first independent candidate to win.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow her down as she came up with her own brand of ayuda in the food and other basic necessities and virus testing kits for her constituents.

Now, Kaye hopes to take her goal of addressing sustainability issues and her hometown’s needs by running for a congressional seat. She isn’t letting go of her sustainability programs (“I want my child and our country’s children to have a future and a country safe from the harmful effects of climate change”), but she is also placing her focus on agriculture and farming and proper land use.

She still hears naysayers that it cannot be done. It only serves to motivate her on positions of good governance, climate change, and livelihood. 

“You tell me it cannot be done and I will work to make sure it gets done,” she enthused. “As I have learned in everything I have experienced in my life, if you put in the work, you will be a champion.”

LA SALLE

VOLLEYBALL

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