KATH ARADO: A Lady Warrior in the Land of Giants

Written By: Zerjosh Serrano and Paul Tamayo

Philippines is as a hardcore sports fan country. In any given sport whether it requires physical strength, intellect, or even resourcefulness, Filipinos will go crazy about it. But for millions of Filipinos, the sports among sports are the world’s famous basketball and volleyball.

Surprised? Definitely not.

Filipinos are known as underdogs in any given circumstance. We love to bite through hardships with our resiliency. Even in losing effort, we always give our all. Defeat in style, as they say. Sports are no exception.

Height is might. For decades, both these sports are dominated with players with size and athleticism. Unfortunately, these vital attributes are very rare for Filipinos. With an average height of 5’3”, Filipinos are supposedly be easily overwhelmed by other countries in terms of height and skills.

But we constantly prove that we belong. And there are several Filipino athletes who always inspire the younger generation to dream on. Despite of what they lack, they always polish what they have.

Take Kath Arado as an example. A young and well-known libero from Iligan City. Not only is she a proven player, but her career as a libero is already decorated.

In a young age of 23, the nation already witnessed her bag awards after awards in her stint both as an amateur and a pro. The former UE Lady Warrior already listed numerous individual awards that include UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year, 2016 ASEAN Junior Championship “Best Libero” held in Thailand, and several Best Digger awards.

Kath leading the way for the Lady Red Warriors. Photo by Tie Breaker Times

Standing at 5’5”, Arado’s role is to anchor the defense by continuously receiving monstrous spikes from other well-known finishers in the country. It seems like she always plays with her life on the line like a person walking in the land of giants.

But despite this, the 2021 Premiere Volleyball League Open Conference “Best Libero” has proven herself as a giant-slayer. Her long resume will surely do the talking.

Followers may be thinking that Arado’s masterful defense and abilities are purely God-given. But unlike your favorite princesses whose fairy godmother magically appeared and granted their wishes, Kath had to endure tons of doubts and criticisms.

Growing up, Arado used to love basketball and unexpectedly fall in love with volleyball. She claimed that her cousins were a great influence on why she loved basketball at first.

“Unexpected yung naging hilig ko sa volleyball. Sa province pa lang. 11 kami magpipinsan and ako lang yung babae. So nasanay ako sa panglalaki na laro. Basketball yung naging laro ko din nun,” Kath said.

From a basketball lover, Arado first played volleyball during a non-organized game in her hometown where a five-person volleyball game is prominent. As a grade schooler, she used to play with “mommies”, and the joy of going home despite of bruises made her discover her love for the game.

“First experience ko, I played with mommies. Doon pa sa barangay, sa province. Uso pa noon na limang tao. Nauwi ako na puro pasa. Pero yung saya nung game, doon ko naranasan,” Kath said.


Since then, she devoted herself in the sport that she is now very popular with. During 5th grade, Arado finally experienced playing in an interschool competition and had a taste of Regional Meet during 6th grade.

After she graduated, she studied at Iligan City National High School. Knowing that public schools are very supportive in sports competitions, this option was a no-brainer. However, a red-carpet welcome to the team was not there for Kath. Instead, she almost did not make the team.

“Nung high school, ayaw sana ako tanggapin ni coach since maliit at payat ako. Hindi kasi alam ni coach if saan ako ilalagay na position. Pero nag-tyaga si coach sa akin. Tinuruan nya ako as a setter and as a libero. Na-try ko din maging spiker. Yung di ko lang talaga na-try is maging middle blocker.”

The feeling of being the odd one out is already a push on the edge for some. Unfortunately, some athletes opt to give up on their dreams due to these types of doubts. But that was not the case for Kath. What was her driving force? Her family.

Growing up on her grandparents’ side, Kath had their full support in her volleyball quest.

“Laking lola ako and very supportive sya sa akin sa sports and acads. Nakita niya yung training ko and yung hardships ko. Nagtaka nga din sya if bakit ayaw ako bigyan ng chance and kunin ng team. Need ko talaga support ng lolo at lola ko,” Kath mentioned.

As an added fuel, her desire to finish her studies for the sake of her siblings and parents is Kath’s ultimate motivation. Coming from a family where her mother has to work abroad, she aimed make her come home for good.

“When I went to UE gusto ko lang makagraduate. Ultimate motivation ko is tumigil na si mama na work abroad. Gusto ko magbonding naman kami. Nung naka-graduate ako, dun lang nag-stop si mama. Parang ako yun naging mother figure ng kapatid ko, nakakamiss umakyat sa stage na parents yung andun.”


The desire to be with her family and repay all their sacrifices is what kept Kath going. All the competitions she joined since high school, whether in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, or Manila, her family was all-in both in moral and financial support.

Kath was bent in achieving her dreams and graduating from a prominent university such as the University of the East is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who would have thought that the sport where she devoted her youth into shall become the door to this opportunity?

During the Palarong Pangbansa 2014 which was held in Laguna, Kath along with some of her teammates were recruited by Coach Francis Vicente, a prominent collegiate coach. And without hesitation, Kath accepted this rare offer.

Kath admitted that she opted to play for UE because of the university’s sweet offer of a scholarship.

With one goal in mind, Kath did not hesitate to accept the offer despite the lowly performance from UE in the past few seasons.

“My idol talaga is Jen Reyes from NU. Napanood ko sya during the game against Ateneo. Then kami yung una team na pinuntahan ni Coach Francis. That time siya pa coach ni Jen Reyes. Actually, before tournament pa lang kinausap na nya kami.

Then nagustuhan na din ng family ko. Kasi sa UE priority nila yung acads but at the same time yung mga courses, hindi kami pinipigilan kung ano gusto namin na kunin. Tapos may full scholarship pa. Kaya noong nakausap ako ni Coach Francis, nag-go ako despite sa status ng UE,” Kath added.

Kath with Petro Gazz Angels team and recently awarded as the Best Libero of PVL. Photo from Petro Gazz Team

For quite some time, the university that once was led by Suzanne Roces was at the bottom of the standings each season. But this was another fuel for Kath as she was set to turn the tides.

“Never ko tiningnan rank ng UE. Lagi kami champion nung HS. Then yung UE nag-struggle manalo. Ibang-Iba yun training. Malayo sa family. Tapos marami maririnig na di maganda sa fans. But despite that, goal namin na mabago tingin sa UE.”

Kath turned to be one of the most heralded liberos in the country during her stint with UE. Even when she turned pro, the 23-year-old is still bagging awards. But despite her glamorous resume, she stills treasure team accomplishments rather than individual awards.

“Mahirap yung pinag-daanan namin sa UE. Pero ang mahalaga, nawala yung “LANG” na tingin sa amin. For me personally international yun award yung pinaka-memorable kasi I was second year going to third year. But most important for me yun effort ng team. I don’t focus sa individual awards. Sabi nga nga coaches ko na bonus nalang yun. Most memorable yung first win sa Adamson, and yun historic win against UST, then nag-third sa PSL. Tapos Pro-league, yung Generika nag-3rd place and naging Best Libero.”

Kath remains a team player, just like her unsung role as a defensive anchor, she always shows up for her teammates to succeed, too. More than the awards, she values all the memories brought by her sacrifices.

“Yung memories and sacrifices yung important sakin. Dugo at luha sa training yung naging puhunan. Goosebumps nga whenever I listen or watch highlights. Every year marami unforgettable moments, every year marami din blessings. Sa akin, sa family ko and sa team,” Kath added.

The legendary libero is only 23 years old and still has a lot of fuel in her tank. But Arado is not wasting her precious time as she already shares her knowledge to the next generation.

When she got invited as a guest trainer in one of the volleyball sessions of Rob Labagala’s Passion Sports, Kath did not even have to think twice when the opportunity knocked.

“I was invited by Coach Rob sa Passion Sports. Gusto ko din magturo since love ko din mga bata. Since minsan lang yung ganun na opportunity na makapag-turo sa mga bata, nag-go agad ko.”

Kath sharing her knowledge and experience at Malabon City Camp

Kath’s love for children drove her desire to teach. Despite being a one-day guest, Arado took that brief opportunity with a goal in mind – empower the young generation.

“Kasi today mostly mga bata sa gadgets naka focus. Kaya pag may ganun nag-iinvite sa akin, go talaga ako kasi iba talaga yun kasi gusto ko ma-share yung game and pati experiences ko. Maraming bat ana mabilis humina loob. So, need nila ma-realize na need nila ma-push,” Kath added.

This may be too early, but Kath’s genuine love for the game and teaching children makes her ponder in accepting a volleyball role on the sidelines when everything is said and done. However, there is very specific position that she wants to be.

“For now, I can’t imagine myself cutting ties with volleyball. But soon, when opportunity comes, why not? Maybe not as a head coach but as a trainer. I witnessed the difficulty of handling different personalities. Honestly, ang mahirap maging coach. But as a trainer, I think I can do better. Also, I prefer to handle a high school team,” Kath said.

Be it as a head coach or as a trainer, knowing that someone as hardworking, dedicated, and decorated as Kath Arado will handle the next generation of volleyball athletes, the future of Philippine volleyball is on safe hands.

So, for the aspiring volleyball players out there, take heed to your Ate Kath’s advice:

“Una palang mahalin nyo na yung volleyball. The more na mahirap, dapat mas i-grab nyo yung hirap. Kasi yun yung magdadala ng ginhawa. Lahat ng gusto natin makuha sa buhay, mahihirapan muna tayo bago natin makuha. At sa huli, mas makikita mo yung halaga ng lahat ginagawa mo.”


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