When UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe coach Mark Chaiwalla entered the post-event press conference of the UAAP Season 86 Cheerdance Competition, he had a quick call with his mother, who congratulated him on his latest achievement.
For the second straight season, Chaiwalla led UST to a third-place finish in the competition after three consecutive campaigns that saw them finish outside of the podium spots.
It was a nice way to cap off another successful showing and the happiness was there for everyone to see. Not even a 15-point deduction due to an illegal stunt could dampen his feelings.
“Siyempre nandun yung medyo sayang na feeling,” said Chaiwalla. “Pero after that performance, that sayang feeling was already out of the window. What matters at this point for me is that everyone is safe and seeing them, they were really happy after their performance.
“Siyemre nandun yung iba na may sayang na parts but overall, the team was really very happy afterwards. For me, as their coach, to be honest, that’s what matters. I’ve always been praying for that they’ll be able to get out of the mats standing on their own feet and that they’re really happy,” he continued.
“Those 15 points, they don’t matter as much anymore. I’m really happy that we were able to defend that bronze but, of course, we’re really going to work harder to not just get a bronze or silver but to get that ninth crown to Espana.”
With the margin so thin, Chaiwalla admitted that there was a sense of what-if for UST. If only they did better in some parts, then they could have won their first championship since Season 69. Nevertheless, he felt nothing to be ashamed of.
“This is something that we’re very grateful for to be able to have that back-to-back bronze from last year,” said Chaiwalla. “For me, there is nothing else to feel right now but gratitude. It was a very tough journey for Salinggawi.
“The circumstances that they experienced throughout Season 86 were so hard. I was actually there to see their struggles but I’m very happy na nailaban nila and they were able to defend their podium finish from last year. I’m just really happy and really proud of my team and I’m really grateful.”