By Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
The University of the Philippines Pep Squad posted their sixth UAAP Cheerdance championship title as they reclaimed their crown from Far Eastern University (FEU) after a perfect run of their festival-influenced routine before a 22,000 crowd Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The day before, the Men’s Basketball Team lost to the UE Red Warriors, repeating the 0-14 slate in Season 70. The UP community expected the Pep Squad to avenge this loss by aiming for the top Cheerdance award.
Incidentally, the UP Pep Squad also won the Cheerdance championship during the basketball team’s 0-14 shutout in 2007.
“Hindi yun yung focus namin kasi magkaibang entity naman yung basketball saka yung cheering,” said coach NJ Antonio, a former member of the pep squad.
Coming up with the concept
The Maroons featured the Ati-atihan Festival of Aklan, the Penagbenga Festival of Baguio and the Maskara Festival of Bacolod in their six-minute performance.
“We tried to come up with a Filipino version of cheering na hindi lang puro stunts. Iniincorporate namin yung flavor ng Filipino sa sayaw,” Antonio said.
He also said that the idea came from College of Human Kinetics Coach Lalaine Perenia, who started making a concept for their every routine.
“Ganoon kasi naman ang UP eh, mahilig gumawa ng istorya. Doon tayo naiiba. Hindi lang tayo gagawa ng sayaw para magpasikat,” Antonio added.
Meanwhile, defending champion FEU Cheering Squad settled as the first runner-up, while UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe landed back on the top three after placing 4th last year.
Last year’s first runner-up Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion slid down in the fourth place, followed by their archrivals DLSU Animo Squad in the fifth, UE in the sixth, NU in the seventh, and Adamson in the eighth.
The winners were determined by their average ranking based on the scores of the judges. The Maroons ranked first in four out of five, the Tamaraws second in three out of five, and the Tigers third in three out of five. They received a cash prize of 340,000 pesos, 200,000 pesos, and 140,000 pesos, respectively.
Maroons, Tamaraws, Tigers
Since 2003, only UP, UST, and FEU made it to the top three spots with the exception of 2009, when the Eagles entered the picture at the cost of the Tigers.
The Maroons are now two championships behind the Tigers, who have the most number of championships having eight in their arsenal, while the Tamaraws have two, last year and in 1998. The three universities are the only teams having championship titles since the competition started in 1994.
UP has the most number of top three appearances, having 15, failing only in the debut year of the competition, followed by UST, having 14, and FEU having 12.