MANILA, Philippines – After mourning its second winless season in men’s basketball the other day, the University of the Philippines (UP) Community got back on its feet in triumphant fashion.
Pumped up by a poster waved by one their supporters that said “0-14 = CDC Champ,” the UP Pep Squad celebrated their return on top of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition with a colorful Filipino Fiesta-themed inspired routine Sunday before a large crowd of 20,950 at the Araneta Coliseum.
With their ill-fated basketball team cheering from the sidelines, it was the UP Pep Squad’s turn to redeem the school from ignominy as they delivered a strong and clean performance that enabled them to bring back the trophy to Diliman after losing it last year.
The UP Pep Squad, which ended up in disappointing 3rd place last year, earned 440.9 points to dislodge last season’s champion Far Eastern University (FEU) Cheering squad, whose clean and very difficult Japanese Samurai-themed routine came in only second with 421.4 points.
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which finished outside the Top 3 for the first time last year, ended up 3rd with 407.5 points.
“Marami ang nagsasabi na dapat mag-champion kami kasi 0-14 kami sa basketball kaya gusto namin makapagbigay ng masayang performance sa UP Community and at the same time, gusto rin naming bumalik sa itaas after last year’s loss,” UP Pep Squad assistant coach NJ Antonio said.
The UP Pep Squad was in celebratory mood as they seamlessly incorporated the Aklan’s Ati-Atihan, Bacolod’s Masskara and Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival in their routine that left the crowd spellbound. It also somehow erased the pain of the stinging 0-14 season in both the seniors and juniors basketball.
It was the State University’s sixth UAAP Cheerdance title since the competition started in 1994.
“As much as possible, gusto namin ang concept ay Pilipino kasi and Cheerdance nanggaling sa Western (countries). So tayo, kami [sa UP], we try to come up with a Filipino version ng Cheerdance na hindi lang puro stunts,” Antonio said.
The Filipino Fiesta-themed routine earned the nod of four judges from a board of five composed of Moscow Ballet’s principal dancer and Philippine Ballet Theater’s ballet master Anatoly Panasyukov, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics gold medalist Jamsin Amanda Valenton-Ortega, Philippine Cheerleading Association of the Philippines Vice President Evangeline Navarro, Asian Federation Cheerleading Technical Committee member Robbie Hayden and the head judge, Philippine Cheerleading Federation Technical Director and International Federation of Cheerleading-rated coach and judge Javier Beren.
'We'll be back next year'
FEU, meanwhile, accepted the defeat but vowed a comeback next year.
“I didn’t see the performance of the other teams but in my eyes, the [FEU] team performed great. We accept the decision of the judges and what is important is that we were able to execute our difficult routine flawlessly,” said FEU Cheering Squad coach Jacqueline Alolor.
FEU, which flaunted the bravery and strength of the Tamaraws by coming up with the Japanese Samurai warriors-inspired routine, was only able to get three 2nd place and two 3rd place nods from the judges.
“I’ve been a member of the FEU Dance Troupe so my heart really belongs to my alma mater. We’ll take the degree of difficulty of our stunts to another level next year. We’ll be back and try to win the championship again [next year],” Alolor said.
After the surprising 4th place finish last year that stained the group’s cheerdancing legacy, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe (SDT) came back strong this year with a Year of the Tiger-inspired routine to get back in the top 3.
The UST SDT, which has the most wins in the history of UAAP Cheerdance with 8 titles, got two 2nd place and three 3rd place nods from the board of judges.
“Last year was a learning experience for us. We were not really devastated because of the UST community’s positive response of our performance [last year]. It motivated us to perform better this year,” said UST SDT longtime mentor Ryan Silva.
Silva said that UST went back to the drawing board after last year’s debacle and watched the routines of the other teams to see the growing trend in the competition.
“Our group’s strength is really dancing that’s why we concentrated this year to work on our gymnastics skills and the technical aspect,” Silva said.
UP took home P340,000 while FEU and UST got P200,000 and P140,000, respectively, from the competition’s sponsor, Samsung, plus electronic gadgets for each member.
The Ateneo Blue Babble Batallion, which finished a breakthrough 1st runner-up finish last year, dropped to 4th while rival De La Salle University (DLSU) Animo Squad ended up in 5th.
The University of the East (UE) Pep Squad, National University (NU) Pep Squad and Adamson University Pep Squad, meanwhile, finished 6th, 7th and 8th, respectively, in the competition that was judged by the following criteria – Dance Technique (10), Jumps (5), Tumbling skills (5), Tosses (5), Lifts and Stunts (10), Pyramids (10), Choreography (10), Degree of Difficulty (10), Synchronization (10), Audibility/Clarity of cheers (5), Uniforms and Props (5) and Overall Effectiveness (10).
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