Mr. Manolito A. Gatchalian
From player to coach, his love for the game remains the same.
A former college volleyball player, PE teacher Mr. Manolito Abot Gatchalian at the High School Department is a hands-on coach who joins in as many plays with his athletes as he can.
Lito, as he is fondly called among friends and colleagues, was born in Pasig, Rizal in Manila as the seventh child in a brood of 11. When he turned six years old, his family moved to Negros Oriental and settled in his mother’s hometown in Sibulan.
His father was a military man, while her mother was a homemaker. He describes his childhood as playful and mobile, crediting some fun to two favorite games: “bato-lata” and “bulan-bulan”.
When asked what he was like as a high school student, he shares that he didn’t have much engagement in school because of insecurities with his height. Lito was uncannily short throughout his high school years.
Though inactive in school, he maintained a dynamic lifestyle during the summer breaks. Vacations were normally spent playing volleyball every day with other kids in the neighborhood.
Undecided as to what course to pursue in college, his older siblings suggested that he take up a course in Civil Engineering, after taking notice of his interest in drawing buildings and houses. He took their advice and enrolled at the College of Engineering (now College of Engineering and Design) in Silliman University in 1979.
During his sophomore year, Lito applied for an athletic scholarship and auditioned to join the varsity volleyball team. Drawn from years of amateur games and his passion for the sport, his competitive skills on court got him into the team.
When his father died during his senior year, financial considerations compelled him to take a semester off school. The following school year, he shifted to pursue Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education major in Physical Education, minor in Filipino, thinking that he could graduate in a year. However, some prerequisites caused him to stay three more years.
A year before completing his degree, in an invitational game at another private university in Dumaguete, Lito met a charming college student by the name of Geraldine. Their friendship eventually got them in a relationship. A year later, while they were still finishing college, Lito married Geraldine.
Lito and Geraldine are now blessed with four children: Jane Volley, a registered nurse; Gerelle June, a Management graduate who now works in Dubai; Phoebe Kay, also a registered nurse; and GM Kidd, an incoming senior student at the College of Education who seems to be following in his father’s footsteps.
Immediately after earning his diploma in March 1986, Lito applied for a teaching position at the High School Department and was accepted that same year.
Asked what makes teaching high school students challenging, he says: “It is dealing with the individual differences of students and their diverse behaviors.” But it is this challenge that Lito admits to be keeping him where he is for 29 years and counting.
Describe yourself in three words.
What is your motto in life?
In dealing with challenges and trials in life, I just tell myself: “That’s life. Live with it.”
What makes you laugh?
Many things. I’m a joker.
What makes you cry?
The reality that all people will pass on.
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
Mornings, because as an active person, I love to start my days early.
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
I like it every day.
What do you love doing when not working?
Watch TV at home.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
What makes you blush?
Being caught off guard.
If you were an actor, who would you be?
I can’t think of a particular actor but I love the character of Robin Hood.
Tell us a fact about yourself.
I love volleyball.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
Volleyball, “bato-lata” and “bulan-bulan”.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
A day with no work and no training.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
How I came to be who I am now
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
When I was much younger (as an athlete), I jog every morning. But now, I usually spend the first few hours of my day watering the plants.
What’s your idea of a family?
A close relationship.