by Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
For the longest time, the Smart-Araneta Coliseum has been the venue of UAAP battles. But outside the walls of the Big Dome, another battle ensues. Fans have fought tooth and nail for tickets to watch their idols clash on the hard court – but no event can evoke as much passion as the much-awaited cheerdance competition.
For students of the University of the Philippines, the CDC is a must-see spectacle every year. They endure long lines and compete for tickets to support the UP Pep Squad, which has won seven championship titles and 16 podium finishes.
Geryl Minguillo, a computer engineering sophomore, camped out in Araneta with friends Tuesday night in anticipation for the release of tickets the next morning. Around 80 to 90 people were already there when they arrived at 7 pm.
“I thought that we were going to be the first ones there since the tickets were going to be sold at 9 am,” Minguillo said.
Some of his friends had been ready for the overnight wait and brought pillows, while Minguillo himself brought his readings to pass the time.
“The roaming guards of Araneta announced to move the line because the restaurants were complaining… But of course, once the line was moved, ‘yung mga dakilang singit took the opportunity,” he said.
Those in line complained, but the guards could not do anything. In the end, some students took charge of organizing the line, according to Minguillo.
“Eventually, the first 250 were listed down. Our tickets were already secured, so no need to fall in line,” Minguillo said.
The security then set aside an area on the sidewalk to separate them from the others in line and for them to sleep on. But, after watching the UP Pep Squad defend their title with their Madonna-inspired routine, Minguillo did not mind going through all that trouble.
“Worth it ang pagiging busabos for a night. I enjoyed it because I was curious about the theme of the Pep, so there was a mystery factor. And then I cheer even louder now because I already memorized [the lyrics],” said Minguillo, who also watched the competition last year.
Meanwhile, business administration sophomore Von Jason Carlos got his tickets from the College of Human Kinetics Varsity Office Thursday.
The tickets were to be released at 3 pm, but students started to fall in line early in the morning. Carlos, who had a PE class in the gym at 7 am, decided to cut his remaining classes and had lined up at 8 am.
“The line was shorter than expected, but there were already 114 people before me since my stub number was 115,” Carlos said.
The day before, Carlos had gone to Araneta with friends in the hopes of getting a ticket, but to no avail. They later went to the host school, Ateneo De Manila University, to check if there were still tickets available, but all of them were already reserved.
Carlos, however, remained undeterred. He continued to hunt for tickets, refusing to settle for the television broadcast because his older brothers were from rival school University of Santo Tomas.
“You can feel the energy better in live. It was awkward cheering in front of the TV… Plus there is the sense of accomplishment that you were able to get a ticket,” he said.
This year was Carlos’ second time watching the CDC live. Prior to that, he said that he did not really know about the UAAP because he came from Dubai.
“The feeling was ecstatic. You won’t care anymore whether you run out of energy or your lungs and vocal chords explode to show your support,” Carlos said.
Students from other schools also had the same experience as Carlos and Minguillo.
Three psychology freshmen from Adamson University said that the line for tickets in their school had reached the second floor. Aside from supporting AdU, who landed in the top three only once since the CDC started, they were also cheering for other schools.
Meanwhile, a small group of medical technology freshmen from perennial contender Far Eastern University watched the CDC as a requirement for their PE classes, but they said they would still watch even if they were not required to cheer for FEU.
These students were only a few of the 21,000 spectators who braved the battle outside the Big Dome. They were all willing to endure camp-outs, long lines, and even scalpers just to show one thing – school spirit.