MANILA - The Far Eastern University (FEU) Pep Squad dethroned defending back-to-back champion, the University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad, while Ateneo de Manila University's Blue Babble Battalion surprisingly came in second in the 2009 UAAP Samsung Cheerdance Competition on Sunday at the jam-packed Araneta Coliseum.
Using Earth music and this season's UAAP theme logo Sarimanok, the FEU Pep Squad gave the 20,000-strong crowd a clean and powerful performance.
The routine of FEU, which drew a score of 86.1%, was the last in the sequence of order with their crowd hoisting a banner saying "save the best for last."
The FEU Pep Squad, who last won the Cheerdance title in 1998, took home P225,000 for besting the other seven schools.
Ateneo, meanwhile, showed a clean routine and wowed the crowd with their Moonwalk lift stunt to emerge first runner up with 83.4%, and got P140,000.
UP Pep Squad disappointingly ended up second runner up after its not-so-flawless routine managed to only get 83.1% from the judges. They took home P90,000 for their third-best effort.
Surprisingly, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, who has eight championships -- five straight in this decade, ended up outside the top three.
With FEU as UAAP host this season, their Pep Squad adopted this season's theme "One Color, One Goal" with the Sarimanok logo embodying it.
FEU Pep Squad coach Jacqui Alolor compared their strong showing this year with the Sarimanok logo.
"The concept was to use this season's theme and the logo. Sarimanok is a bird and (a bird) soars high. That's exactly what we did today," FEU Pep Squad coach Jacqueline Alolor.
With two of their members coming from the national team and more than half who are trained gymnasts, the FEU Pep Squad flaunted their gymnastics skills in their cultural-inspired routine.
"We've been preparing for this competition in the last five months. We wanted something different and we veered away from the usual pop jazz routines," said FEU Pep Squad team captain Ven Mar Cudog.
Alolor was relieved and happy that her team showed exactly what she has envisioned for them.
"From the start to end, show them that we're the best and flawless execution." Alolor told her team.
The Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion, meanwhile, did not expect to land in the top three. This is the team's best finish in the competition's history after placing fourth last season.
"After our performance, we're just happy that we did our best. We did not expect this since only 9 of us returned this year from our competing team last year," said cheerdancers captain Sari Campos, who also snagged the Samsung Stunner award.
The moonwalk lift, which easily became the best remembered stunt in this year's competition, was said to be the product of their experimentation.
"We still keep the tradition alive but we also try to experiment to keep up with the times," added Campos.
Traditional powerhouse UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe was surprisingly taken out of the top 3 for the first time in the competition's history.
The Egyptian-inspired routine of Salinggawi, which was capped off by a difficult human pyramid with two cheerdancers circling on top amidst fire-like banners, did not make it to the top three in the eyes of the judges.
The board of judges were composed of Dr. Sylvia M. Chua, President/Founder of Cheerleading Association of the Philippines; Douglas Nierras, Artistic Director of Powerdance; Evan Alva, President of Pilipinas Cheerleading Federation; Joy Garcia Valenton, National Judge Gymnastics Association of the Philippines and Ai Hesagawa, International Judge of Federation of Japan Cheerleading Association.
"Prinepare ko na sarili ko for this. In every competition, there is winning and losing. I have to admit, I expected that we were to be called after UP was announced third. But as I told the team, we have to grow with this experience," said Salinggawi choreographer Ryan Silva.
Silva was the architect of Salinggawi's unprecedented five-peat run from 2002-2006.
"FEU came strong this year. They showed a clean routine," Silva added. - Alder T. Almo
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