MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) The National University (NU) Cheer Squadron made history as they won the 2013 UAAP Cheerdance Competition, marking the first time that their team won the highly anticipated annual showcase of UAAP pep squads.
With the heads of the male members shaved bald, the NU Cheering squadron channeled Aladdin and the Arabian Nights – with a helping of "The Prince of Egypt" – in their routine, which they executed almost flawlessly.
A record crowd of 20,830 fans attended the much-hyped event at the Mall of Asia on Sunday, which saw the arrival of a new power in the Cheerdance Competition that has been traditionally dominated by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
The NU Cheerdance Squadron made the podium for the first time in the 2012 edition of the competition, when their Disney-inspired routine vaulted them into third place.
They were even better this year, wowing the MOA Arena crowd with their complex stunts and daring tosses, while at the same time showcasing their dancing ability.
For their efforts, the judges awarded them 696.5 points, and the NU Cheer Squadron went home with the top prize of P340,000.
"'Yung team ngayon, very united sila," said NU coach Jhereeka Mae Bernabe, who added that the squad trained for around five months for the competition. "Hindi sila nag-give up, kahit ano 'yung pinapagawa namin sa kanila."
Coming in second place was last year's winner, the UP Pep Squad, who had been gunning for a fourth consecutive UAAP Cheerdance crown.
The UP Pep Squad’s routine was marred by three major falls that drew gasps and winces from the thousands of UP students in attendance, but the complexity of their "party" themed performance proved to be enough to make it to second place.
The UP Pep Squad garnered 620.5 points, and they went home with the second prize of P200,000.
Meanwhile, the De La Salle Animo Squad rode a cleanly executed, military-inspired routine all the way to third place. The members of the Animo Squad were decked head-to-toe in camouflage and exchanged their bows and arrows for a shotgun as they returned to the podium after a one-year absence.
La Salle had finished in second place in the 2011 edition of the tournament.
The Animo Squad was awarded 596.5 points by the judges and went home with the third prize worth P140,000.
The Far Eastern University (FEU) Cheering Squad finished in fourth place (589.5 points), followed by the Adamson Pep Squad (559.5 points).
The University of the East Pep Squad was in sixth place with 559 points, followed by the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, who garnered 546 points. The Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion wound up in eighth place with 514 points.
The Salinggawi Dance Troupe, who won five consecutive cheerdance crowns from 2002 until 2006, has now failed to finish in the podium for three consecutive years. The last time they were in the top three was in 2010, when they placed third behind FEU and UP.
Meanwhile, NU also took home the top prize in the Group Stunts Competition, followed by FEU in second place, and UST in third place.
De La Salle University's Ana de Leon was named the 2013 UAAP Cheerdance Samsung Stunner, beating NU's Micah Javier and UP's Aya Casim.