The UAAP community was incomplete in last year’s Cheerdance Competition, as the University of the Philippines Pep Squad decided to boycott the contest.
However, the eight-time champions made a welcome return in this year’s festivities. And no one was more pleased to see them perform again than their mentors.
“Masaya ‘ko para mga bata, kasi nabigyan sila ng chance to compete,” coach NJ Antonio shared. “Na-showcase nila ‘yung galing nila. Napakita nila ‘yung pinag-trabahuhan nila for the whole year.”
“Siyempre, masarap pa rin,” added co-captain Megan Mendoza.
“After all that time, it still feels great to perform for the UP community cause they’ve always, always been there for us.”
The road to the competition was not easy, as the squad has to essentially start from scratch. UP Pep currently have 17 rookies on their roster, and, according to Antonio, most of them do not have backgrounds in stunts or gymnastics.
“Hindi lang medyo marami, more than half sa kanila bago. Karamihan diyan, sabihin nating 90 percent, hindi talaga cheering yung bcajground nila nung high school sila. Pumunta sila sa UP, may experience pero hindi high level. Tinuruan pa namin sila ng tumbling, magbuhat, magpabuhat.”
Despite finishing in just sixth place — the lowest UP Pep have finished since joining the tournament — seeing these CDC neophytes deliver was elation to the UP Pep coaches.
“So, yung pinakita nilang performance, lamang na lamang yung kalaban iyon terms of yung skills nila — elite gymnasts yung mga yan eh, na kahit papa’no, naka-deliver pa rin yung UP Pep Squad,” the former team captain shared.
“Sobrang gaan ng feeling, sobrang sarap. ‘Di man siya yung perfect run, pero masaya kami,” added co-captain Thea Obanil.
“Yun yung mas nagma-matter – yung nafi-feel ng teammates ko.”
Before the competition, people who had seen the routine felt something was lacking in the piece for Saturday night. Antonio begged to differ, explaining that they had gone for something safe and up to the level of their members.
“Hindi naman kasi basta-basta madali magbigay ng mahirap na routine. Unang-una, iisipin mo yung safety ng mga pinasasayaw mo. Hindi naman habambuhay ‘yung ginagawa nila,” the mentor said. “Yung injury, baka maging permanente pa yun,” Antonio said.
“Iniingatan namin sila and at the same time, bibigay namin sa kanila ‘yung kaya nilang gawin.”
With the confidence that the rookies gained from the experience, the coaches and the whole UP community hope the squad will continue to improve and return to the signature moves for which they are known.
“Sana, sana. Ganun naman palagi yung goal namin,” Antonio optimistically stated. “Pero nakadepende pa rin yan sa tao. Hindi naman yan pantay-pantay na ‘pag tinuruan mo, gagaling. Pero, yan ang trabaho namin.
“Pagtatrabahuhan namin na gumaling sila, not the fastest was possible, but the safest way possible.”
Adamson Pep head coach goes full circle
When the Adamson Pep Squad were declared as the champions of the 2017 UAAP Cheerdance Competition, hysteria filled the jampacked SM Mall of Asia Arena. But no one was more elated than head coach Jeremy Lorenzo.
“Nung na-announce na gold kami sabi ko, ‘Lord, totoo ba ‘to? Gisingin niyo ko!’
“I was really, really speechless, hindi ko alam unang iisipin ko,” he admitted.
Lorenzo has been with the program ever since his 2007. He spent all five of his collegiate years as part of Adamson’s cheer group before returning to the program as head coach last year. Moreover, he still kept his day job to make both ends meet.
Though not being formally trained to be a dance mentor, Lorenzo single-handedly turned the program around. In his first year, Adamson notched its first-ever podium finish.
Coming off a third place finish, the youthful mentor needed to up the ante. And he did so by returning to basics.
“Last year talaga sobrang stepping stone namin kasi nag-second runner up. Talagang na mold namin yung mga bata sa disiplina, spiritually, mentally, physically,” he recalled.
“Then nag start na kami sa difficulty ng cheerleading elements. Hindi kami totally nag-start sa advance, tinry muna namin mild difficulty, then after last year nung nag podium half of the year graduated puro seniors kasi,” he added.
“After that yung rookies at Team B namin, pinasok namin sa same process sa pag mold ng discipline then tinry namin i-step up difficulty from last year then from there sinubukan naming lagpasan routine last year.”
During their performance, almost every single member of the 19,851-strong crowd danced to their beat as their selection turned the arena into a huge dancefloor with his troops lighting it up with an 80’s inspired outfits.
“After kasi nung Polynesian last year nag plan na ako ng possible routine for next year. I was inspired to make an OPM routine kasi sa cheerdance bihira manalo gumamit ng OPM,” he said as the songs he chose included VST and Company classics, “Rock Baby Rock”; “Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko”; “I-Swing Mo Ako”; and “Magsayawan”.
“Why not VST? Tutal very iconic siya sa mga Pinoy and sure akong makaka-relate lahat.
“It’s not how intense or serious your theme is it’s about how you win the hearts of the people. Yun ang pinaka motto ng Adamson — to win hearts and trophies,” he added.
But now that he has steered his alma mater to the top, he still remains grounded. Moreover, Lorenzo was flattered that Adamson Pep is now in the same lines as former champions UST Salinggawi Dance Troup, UP Pep Squad, NU Pep Squad, and FEU Cheering Squad.
“It’s really a complex situation pag mga ganyan. Ang akin kasi, the more na i-strive mo yung dancers mo kung ano talaga yung halaga ng potential ng skills nila,” he reflected. “Hindi nila ma-rerealize yung unless na sumunod sila sayo, unless they see it themselves. Kung mahilera kami sa NU, UP, at UST it’s very flattering and overwhelming.
“Pero we still have more room for improvement pa sinasabi nga bilog ang bola eh.”
Instead, the Adamsonian is just happy to give back to the school that molded him to what he is today.
“Pinaka naging motivation ko yung time sa Adamson nung 2007 until 2012. We were win-less at na-experience ko yung pagiging talo buong college life ko,” he shared.
“Yun yung naging motivation at inspiration ko yung frustration ko — ibawi yung mga panahon na nakaramdam ako ng talo.”
NU skipper remains proud: ‘It doesn’t mean na natalo kami ngayon, hindi kami magaling’
For the past five years, the National U Pep Squad has established their UAAP Cheerdance dominance. Known for their flawless runs and daredevil stunts, they first bagged third place in 2012 and eventually enjoyed their spot on the top for four years straight.
Gunning for a fifth straight crown this year, it came as such a huge heartbreak for the Bulldogs to never even have their university called during the awarding. They were filled with emotions as they exited the mats empty handed. This year is the first time that NU missed a spot since 2012. Adding salt to the wounds, almost half of the team were comprised of graduating cheerdancers.
But after a very emotional post-event huddle, team captain Aiza Aleman addressed media still with a composed and fierce attitude.
“Masakit kasi four-peat champions kami tapos di namin nakuha yung five-peat, nag fail kami. Pero nung nag fail kami, lalong lumakas yung faith namin kay God,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean na natalo kami ngayon, hindi kami magaling. Kung ano yung legacy ng NU, di pa rin yun magsa-stop.”
NU came out with very difficult stunts that they are known for but it was the flawlessness that lacked. They started their routine with errors but eventually regained their footing. However, it was those errors that ultimately damaged their five-peat hopes.
With a score of 610.50, NU ranked fourth with UE (634.50), UST (638.50), and Adamson (663.50) above them.
The team captain shared that the whole team were disappointed with the result especially with all the training they did for the whole year.
“Buong season na ito, all out talaga kami. Di nawala yung love and care kasi ‘tong year na ‘to, sobrang madalang na yung injury namin kasi nga nandun na yung pag-iingat ng bawat isa. Ginawa namin yung best namin, nag all out kami,” she expressed.
“Yun lang nalusutan kami sa competition proper pero masasabi ko pa rin na nandun yung trust namin sa isa’t isa.”
The graduating team captain was part of the NU champion team for four years. Even though this is not the exit she had imagine for herself as an NU Bulldog, she is still very proud to be part of the cheer dance legacy NU has carved.
“Since first year up to know, sobrang saya ko kasi kahit di namin nakuha yung championship ngayon, kung ano yung NU nung first akong pumunta, ganun pa rin siya haggang sa last ko at pagalis ko,” the Sports and Wellness Management student reflected.
“NU is still NU.”
This year may have been a painful experience for the Bulldogs but they promised that this will only fuel them to be better next year.
Adamson Pep takes home first-ever Cheerdance crown
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that
After notching their first-ever podium finish last season, the Adamson Pep Squad completely got out of the darkness with an 80’s inspired show of lights and finesse to give Adamson University its first-ever UAAP Cheerdance crown, Saturday evening at the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasig City.
For the second time in three years, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe took home silver with a Crouching Tiger-inspired performance.
The UE Pep Squad finished in third place, taking home bronze and PHP 140,000.
An error-filled start completely doomed defending champions National U Pep Squad from notching a five-peat and even making the podium.
After missing the competition a season ago, the UP Pep Squad’s performance, that was inspired by the stories of the Iskolars ng Bayan, did not finish in the podium for the first time.
In the group stunt competition, the FEU Cheering Squad took home gold — their second championship in the event in four years.
Adamson Pep finished with silver while UP Pep completed the podium in the side event.
Blue Babble makes a statement
During the halftime break of the match-up between the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, both sides of the gallery were in unison, cheering for the Blue Babble Battalion after its performance, Wednesday evening.
With the Ateneo drummers playing “ONE BIG FIGHT”, seven members of the Battalion held up placards that read “STOP”, “THE”, “EJKs”, “UPHOLD”, “HUMAN”, “RIGHTS”.
Afterwards, the first member of the group held up a sign that had “1,000” on it and tore it up afterwards.
This comes at the wake off the House of Representatives’ approval of just a Php 1,000.00 budget for the Commission of Human Rights for the fiscal year of 2018.
Ateneo have always made it adamantly clear that they are against extra judicial killings.
This is not the first time the Blue Babble Battalion has delved into politics. Last November 30, the Blue Babble protested the burial of Ferdinand Marcos, lifting placards that read, “Marcos is not a hero”.
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