National University Pep Squad has been one of the most dominant teams in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
Seven of the last nine competitions were ruled by NU Pep – with all of those gold finishes under the guidance of head coach Ghicka Bernabe.
Only Adamson Pep (Season 80) and Far Eastern University Cheering Squad (Season 84) have successfully barged into the top of the podium other than NU Pep.
Last season, the Jhocson-based cheerdancers regained supremacy in the league’s biggest special event – a fitting end to the legendary career of Bernabe, who resigned shortly after winning the championship as she chose to focus on family life.
All eyes are on new head coach Gab Bajacan if he can continue the legacy left by Bernabe.
During the Season 86 CDC press conference on Wednesday, Bajacan shared that it was hard to fill the shoes left by Bernabe and also by coach Jess Ocampo.
“Number one kaming mga coaches we have our strength talaga. Yung challenge nga is I am more on cheering side and I am also the designer as well ng team. Si Coach Ghicka is more of the motherly love type of coach. Si Coach Jess is a dance coach talaga,” said Bajacan, whose squad will perform second on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“So imagine-in ninyo kailangan kong maging mother and a dancer and a cheerleader at the same time.”
However, it’s not really that big of a shoe to fill. The new tactician revealed that the team still gets some much-needed input and advice from the two former coaches.
Ocampo is now in Singapore, while Bernabe is based in Germany.
“I’m very thankful na I have help from them pa rin kahit Zoom meeting. I’m happy na nakakatulong sila sa akin kasi it’s very very stressful lalo na hawak mo more than 60 members,” said Bajacan.
“Si Coach Jess and Coach Ghicka are always there helping along the way.”
In the NU Pep’s first run in the UAAP without Bernabe, they will be showcasing a routine inspired by The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
After preparing for months for this, Bajacan is excited to show the fans what they were able to build for the spectacle happening on December 2 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The defending champions will perform second.
“Ang kinakatakot ko kaya ba namin imaintain yung standard ng NU Pep Squad na talagang very experimental, death-defying routine at yun yung kinakatakot kong part pero with the help of these coaches na kasama ko rin ngayon, nasurvive namin this season,” he said.
“Still, we will be the NU Pep Squad na malakas pa rin talaga, death-defying. Masusurprise pa rin sila.”