After controversy, UP Pep Squad hopes to uphold school’s legacy in cheerdance

Karl Cedrick Basco and Camille Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2022 04:02 PM

 Members of the UP Pep Squad perform their routine during the UAAP Season 84 Cheerdance Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on May 22, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FILE
Members of the UP Pep Squad perform their routine during the UAAP Season 84 Cheerdance Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on May 22, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FILE

MANILA – After their off-season was marred by controversies, the University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad is looking at rebuilding the legacy of the school in the UAAP cheerdance competition. 

With just days before the UAAP Season 85 cheerdance competition on Saturday, the winningest squad in the league, alongside the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe, will be parading a new set of performers and coaches as they seek for their ninth CDC title. 

But the road to the upcoming competition was rough and tough for UP after numerous revelations unravelled during the offseason, which included alleged verbal and physical abuses from the previous coaches,. as well as excessive fines imposed as form of punishments to some athletes. 

“It’s a new team. Different set of performers, different set of coaches. But I think we really want to uphold the UP legacy that was built previously,” newly minted head coach Fae Pascua said.

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“We really just want to build also a new legacy moving forward, with like the evolution of the sport din that comes with that, and 'yung skills, and being welcomed by the other UAAP coaches.”

Pascua described her team as the new generation who will exhibit new skills under a new system. 

The new coach, however, tempered expectations, explaining that the squad is excited to perform again following the good showing of the UP Fighting Maroons in men’s basketball. 

“We're just really happy to be performing again in front of the crowd, in front of the UAAP community, and especially for the UP athletes din. We actually really represent and take it to heart to represent 'yung UP Fighting Maroons,” Pascua continued. 

“I think it came with a slight pressure din from the men's basketball [team] going into the finals, pero I think that's one thing that really riled up the crowd, and like the UP community to really set expectations din … 'Yung community din, sobrang g na g sila to support. Sobrang g na g rin kami to perform.”

Known for socially-relevant themes in the past years, Pascua teased that their routine’s message will show that UP Pep Squad remains to be a force to reckon with. 

“I think with this routine, we're gonna be like, somewhere in the middle of may message and like, showing something that everyone can relate to. So we're trying to find that balance, and I think with this routine, it's a good start moving forward also. Palaban ang UP forever,” she answered.

But will it be enough to put the pep squad back to the UAAP CDC podium? She declined to give a prediction but noted the intense energy of her athletes to return to the UAAP mat. 

“Marami silang pent-up na energy and g na g sila to perform, regardless of mag-podium or hindi,” she said. 

UP Pep Squad last lifted the championship trophy in 2012. They, however, missed the podium in the last four editions of CDC, settling for sixth place in those years. 

In 2016, they did not participate after filing a protest in 2015 due to alleged prejudice in the scoring process. The National University (NU) Pep Squad took the title that year despite multiple errors, beating first runner-up UST and second runner-up UP. 

The protest, however, was put down by the UAAP CDC, saying that the results were valid. 

Slated on December 10, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition will revert to its pre-pandemic rules, with full squads and drums once again featured in the event. 

This means that squads are now allowed to feature 15-25 performers, as opposed to the maximum of 15 for Season 84. Pep squads will also have their usual five to six minute routines, after being limited to three minutes during last May's competition. 

FEU is the defending CDC champion, with Adamson University emerging as runners-up in Season 84. Powerhouse NU settled for third place in Season 84, failing to secure a three-peat.

 UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.