A few weeks ago, accusations were hurled at DLSU Lady Spiker Kim Fajardo allegedly having a relative serving as a statistician in the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Tournament. Although it was proven untrue, the fifth-year player could not dodge another family rumor that had been thrown at her this year: that Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) star June Mar Fajardo is her cousin.
“Oo, actually nalaman ko lang bago magstart yung season, and oo, magpinsan kami [ni June Mar],” the Lady Spiker said to The LaSallian when asked about the issue. (I only learned about it before the season. Yes, we are cousins.)
The connection came with little surprise, as both athletes play sports that require similar physical requirements, and since both Kim and June Mar have been successful in their respective sports, it could be said that sports does run in the family.
Putting the pieces together
When further pressed about the issue, Kim explained that June Mar visited her and her family during the offseason in her home province of Batangas. She thought that he was there for a San Miguel beer commercial shoot, but the reigning PBA MVP brought his family to what turned out to be a weeklong celebration.
The reigning UAAP Best Setter admitted that she was shocked when the elder Fajardo sat down with her and her family. Apparently, her father and June Mar’s mother were separated when they were kids because he got lost during the Caballo Festival held in their town. Her father could barely recount that moment, while June Mar’s mother was inconsolable for weeks since she lost her playmate and close brother. Kim’s father had his bag containing his favorite toy car and a family photo he had kept for a school project, key pieces that would help prove the story of the elder Fajardo sibling.
A chance sighting of the younger Fajardo’s parents prompted June Mar’s mother to contact him to help her see if she could reach out to Kim’s parents. Once June Mar’s mother aired her side of the story, even the normally composed Kim could not contain her emotions.
“Natuwa ako kasi parang nakakakuha ng closure ang dad ko, yung tipong nakikita mo lang sa mga movie,” Kim recounted. (I’m happy because my dad received closure, the kind that you can only see in movies.)
“Love ko mom ko talaga, kaya ginawa ko naman yung kaya ko para mahanap niya yung kapatid niya,” June Mar said when The LaSallian dropped by a San Miguel practice recently. (I love my mother, so I did what I could so she could find her sibling.)
A budding relationship
Having not seen each other for years, the Fajardo cousins decided not to waste any more time apart. The athletes have now spent quite some getting to know one another with the numerous family dinners the reunited cousins have organized. June Mar thought at the beginning that he and Kim would not have anything in common. Nevertheless, he started to treat the Lasallian like his little sister. “Nung una, pumupunta lang ako sa family reunions dahil alam ko miss na ni mom si tito. Pero I got to know Kim din and parang siya yung nawawala kong kapatid.” (At first, I would only go to family reunions because I know my mom misses my uncles. But I got to know Kim, and she’s like the sister I never had.)
The Lady Spiker admitted that she too has grown fond of the basketball player. “Baka kasi we both play sports, pero naging kuya na rin turing ko sakanya.” (At first we both just played sports, but now I treat him like a brother.)
With Kim focusing on playing for her last season in the UAAP, and at the same time balancing her academics, she does not have much free time to spend with the family. Luckily, since the PBA Philippine Cup has ended, June Mar has taken this opportunity to be the one to visit his cousin. “Nagulat nga ako nung nagtanong siya if pwede siyang manood ng practice namin,” Kim said. (I got surprised when he asked if he could view our practices.) The basketball player confessed that he has always been a fan of volleyball and so he used that to connect with his new found cousin.
Both athletes were proud of each other’s achievements in their respective sports. June Mar was shocked when he found out that the best setter in the UAAP was his cousin. He also joked that being the best really was in their blood. Similarly, the volleyball player also loves playing basketball. Upon learning that a famous basketball player happens to be a relative, she could not help but gush about the fact.
One of the biggest uncertainties for the Lasallian remains to be the outlook of her career in the professional league. She hopes that like her cousin, she too will reach that level of success in the world of sports once she graduates. Outside of sports, both players are confident that as their relationship deepens, they will be able to support one another fully in whatever they do.