NU Pep Squad goes three-peat in UAAP Cheerdance; UP finishes third

NU bagged their three-consecutive championship titles in the UAAP Cheerdance competition. Judges gave them 688 points. The National University Pep Squad completed a grand slam conquest in front of a record 25, 388 people in attendance during the 2015 UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC) held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday.

by John Remil Isaga

NU bagged their three-consecutive championship titles in the UAAP Cheerdance competition. Judges gave them 688 points.
NU bagged their three-consecutive championship titles in the UAAP Cheerdance competition. Judges gave them 688 points.

NU bagged their three-consecutive championship titles in the UAAP Cheerdance competition. Judges gave them 688 points.

The National University Pep Squad completed a grand slam conquest in front of a record 25, 388 people in attendance during the 2015 UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC) held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday.

While their caveman-themed performance was marred with a glaring error in one of their pyramid formations, the squad finished strong with a dazzling display of fast-paced acrobatic mastery to top the competition with 668 points.

Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe and University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad maintained their podium finishes from last year.

The UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe finished second to the NU Pep Squad with 651.5 points.
The UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe finished second to the NU Pep Squad with 651.5 points.

UST improved from their third place finish last year, grabbing the first runner-up plum this time with 651.5 points.

The crowd favorite UP Pep Squad, meanwhile, slipped down to second runner-up, from a bridesmaid finish last year, with 610.5 points.

Both UST and UP tallied their 20th podium finish and are still tied for the most podium finishes in UAAP Cheerdance history.

An emotional NU head coach Ghicka Bernabe thanked all who supported her and the pep squad, including the school management and her fellow coaches.

Bernabe, now on her fourth year as mentor of the Sampaloc-based cheerdancers, admitted that she started worrying about the judgment of her squad when NU started committing errors. However, she remained confident, assuring her performers and students that the four pyramids they executed were outstanding enough.

The UP Pep Squad placed third in this year's UAAP Cheerdance competition with 610.5 points.
The UP Pep Squad placed third in this year’s UAAP Cheerdance competition with 610.5 points.

Nung nagkamali yung performers ko sa isang pyramid, ang pumasok sa isip ko, ‘Teka lang, apat na pyramid yung nilaban ko eh. Not all the universities [ay] naglabas at nag-risk ng apat na mahirap na pyramid. So hindi kami naging worried na mabilis na maaagaw sa amin ‘yung championship na ‘to (When my performers missed a perfect pyramid, I thought about the four stunts we prepared. Not everyone risked to perform the same number and difficulty. We were not worried that the championship will be taken from us),’” stressed Bernabe.

Bernabe, an alumnus of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Cheering Squad, shared their biggest threat was themselves. “Last year, sino ba yung nag-champion?” she asked her dancers. “Sabi ko, ‘Tayo, ‘di ba (We won the championship last year, right)?”

She added, “Yung sarili nating standards ang tatalunin natin, walang iba. Bakit mo tatalunin yung mas mababa sa’yo (We should beat our own standards, and none else. Why would you defeat someone worse)?”

NU team manager Jun Gaw applauded the cheerdancers for raising the degree of difficulty of their gravity-defying stunts and breathtaking pyramids, despite having fifteen rookies on the team.

The NU Pep Squad now has three podium finishes, all of which are gold. They are also the third school to record a three-peat in the competition, after perennial contenders UP and UST.

NU also finished first runner-up at the Group Stunts Competition, with UST nabbing the gold and FEU finishing second runner-up.

Consolations for the UP Pep Squad were the best toss and best pyramid awards.

The FEU Cheering Squad placed fourth with 583.5 points, University of the East Pep Squad finished fifth with 583 points, De La Salle University Animo Squad was at sixth place with 538.5, Adamson University Pep Squad landed in seventh place with 513.5 points, and Ateneo de Manila University Blue Babble Battalion at eighth with 412 points.

NU dethrones UP; bags 1st cheerdance crown

The National University notched a historic first-ever UAAP Cheerdance Competition championship title as they bested three-peat defending champion University of the Philippines, in front of 20, 830 spectators, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

by Anton Onato

Photos by Marlon Nombrado and Luis Adrian Hidalgo

UPDATED Sept. 16, 11:46 p.m.

The National University notched a historic first-ever UAAP Cheerdance Competition championship title as they bested three-peat defending champion University of the Philippines, in front of 20, 830 spectators, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

NU Pep Squad tallied 696.5 points with their Sahara-themed routine, while UP Pep Squad’s party-themed routine fell behind with 620.5 points. De La Salle University finished third with their Army-themed routine, garnering 596.5 points.

The Bulldogs, who improved to a third place finish last year from a measly sixth place performance in 2011, dominated and topped almost all the  technical departments (tumbling, stunts, tosses, and pyramids). They placed second in dance behind UP Pep Squad.

“Dun talaga kami nagfocus sa dance kasi dun kami mahina last year. However, magaling talaga ang UP sa sayaw. Hands down ng sobra (We really focused on dance because that’s our weakness last year. UP is really good in dancing. Hands down,” said Adrian Alban, NU’s team captain.

Alban also thanked the UP crowd who cheered for their victory during the event.

“Kahit na hindi kami taga UP, naramdaman pa din namin ‘yung pagmamahal ninyo at pagsuporta sa amin. Alam kong competition ‘to pero pinakita ninyo na marunong kayong umappreciate ng ibang school (Even though we’re not from UP, we still felt your love and support for us. I know this is a competition, but you showed us that you know how to appreciate other schools),” said Alban.

Despite four major falls in their routine, the UP Pep Squad remained positive that they will pull off another podium finish. “Iba kasi ‘yung degree of difficulty ng mga stunts namin (Our stunts are on a different degree of difficulty),” said captain Lian Melegrito.

Meanwhile, NU also topped the Group Stunt competition while Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas finished second and third, respectively. La Salle’s Ana De Leon was named this year’s Samsung Stunner.

The top three teams received P340,000, P200,000 and P140,000 respectively. Rounding up the competition were last year’s runner-up FEU, Adamson University, University of the East, UST and Ateneo de Manila University finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth place.

[nggallery id=97]

The main event

Dressed in sleeveless maroon-and-gray hoodies and pants with pompoms and flags, the UP Pep Squad bagged its first title in 1999.

By Yvette Morales

Known for their awe-inducing stunts and innovative routines, the UP Pep Squad hopes to clinch a four-peat and a ninth title on Sunday.

Through a YouTube video tagged as the official UP Pep Squad “spoiler,” Via Bayabas, who claims to be a former UP pep member herself, made a prediction on this year’s UP Pep Squad theme for the UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC). Consulting a garden gnome she calls “Piccolo,” Bayabas predicted that it will be something about animals, particularly those in the Chinese zodiac.

Last year, the UP Pep Squad bagged its 8th championship title in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Photo by Michelle Angelica Soriano
In 2012, the UP Pep Squad bagged its 8th championship title in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Photo by Michelle Angelica Soriano

Last year, Bayabas predicted that the theme will be “Frida,” which was a play on the squad’s actual theme, freedom.

Since the UP Pep Squad won its first championship in 1999, the team never failed to surprise the audience with its ingenious themes. Clinching the top spot after only a year in the competition proved the team’s potential – now, they have grown to be a crowd favorite.

 

A timeline of UP Pep Squad CDC themes

1999

Dressed in sleeveless maroon-and-gray hoodies and pants with pompoms and flags, the UP Pep Squad bagged its first title, headed by Coach Lalaine Perena.

Their routines were quite simple, focusing on hand gestures and choreographies such as high kicks, back rolls, cartwheels and splits, among others.

Formations like the double triangle, double diagonal line are seen more often than pyramids.

The traditional spelling of school initials was also present in the squad’s routine.

The Oblation pose, which has grown to be a trademark, closed the performance. The sea of maroon yelled one of the classic cheers for the pep squad, “U-nibersidad ng Pi-li-pi-nas” with such passion and school pride.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 1999 routine

2000

Still with the classic pompoms and triangle flags, the Squad won a back-to-back through more complex formations and movements, like inverted splits and leg-lifting.

Most of the movements were floor work. However, the audience went wild seeing the taekwondo-inspired segment of the routine.

There was a segment when the squad’s drummers made a pause, allowing the performers to provide their own rhythm though claps and taps.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2000 routine

2001

As the 2001 commentator said, for UP, “winning is a habit.”

UP Pep Squad won its first three-peat, and this set the new standards of cheerdance routines as they opened with simultaneous back flips and a three-layered pyramid.

The UP Pep Squad yet had more innovations for the audience, as they used sticks in lieu of traditional flags.

It was ended with a series of throws and a pyramid, with the third layer doing the inverted split.

WATCH:  UP Pep Squad’s 2001 routine

2007

UP pep squad dethroned 5-peat champion UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe (SDT) through a black and maroon motif.

It maintained the momentum through a series of death-defying throws and complex pyramids.

The liftings were accompanied by the upbeat song Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne.

The pep squad impressed the audience by the series of tumblings made by the dancers while crossing the arena.

Another goose-bumper was the slow motion of the classic Oblation pose.

Female cheer dancers proved that the pompoms are not yet obsolete. They used the classic tool in a dance choreography mixed with tumblings and floor work.

By the end of the cheerdance number, the pompoms were left on the ground forming “UP.”

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2007 routine

2008

Amongst the Araneta Coliseum crowd of 23,000, the sea of maroon dominated the crowd.

The year 2008 was another back-to-back win for the UP pep squad. Flags with the words “TRIBO” and “SUGOD” at the back revealed the tribal theme of the routine.

With few defects and some falls, the pep squad continued to wow the audience through high throws and complex pyramids.

As in 2007, the red and green pompoms spelled “UP” after the red and green flag passed by. It was accompanied by an almost-nude Oblation.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2008 routine

2010

Emerging with a fiesta theme, the UP Pep went “Hala bira” as they snatched their crown back from the Tamaraws.

The team seemed more vigorous this year, as they performed quicker movements and engaged in fast-paced transitions. Even the spelling of “UP” was done in an instant.

The routine was the same pyramids and formations, just with the slightest variations. An inverted spit as the flier never fails to capture the audience’s (and probably the judges’) attention.

Ati-atihan and Maskara Festival were among the inspirations of the fiesta theme.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2010 routine

2011

It was UP Pep’s squad’s third back-to-back win.

The hair-play started as the Pep Squad surprised the audience with bleached blonde hairs, inspired by Madonna.

Three-layer pyramids were not something new to the team; however, it gets more complex each year.

The series of tumblings were more fast-paced, still having the same wow factor from the audience.

The fliers seemed to literally fly to get to the top layer, as the crowd drowned in enthusiasm. Also, the one-foot support of the fliers while on top is definitely something to recognize.

The Oblation pose concluded the routine.

However, the cheerdance competition title was not the only one that the pep squad brought home. They also bagged the gold medal in a new event: the stunts competition. Pep squad member Nesza Salvador also emerged as the Samsung Stunner, a special award courtesy of the sponsor.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2011 routine

2012

As the UP tradition suggests, “’pag may sablay, may tagumpay.”

Although last year’s Samsung stunner Nesza Salvador ended the routine with a noticeable fall, the much-anticipated three-peat for the “Pep Squad ng Bayan” was achieved in bald heads and minimalist outfits.

It was UP Pep Squad’s eight title, putting it on tie with UST’s SDT.

The oblation was the overall theme of the routine, suggesting freedom and equality.

As the previous year, UP also brought home all the gold medals that were given in the competition.

WATCH: UP Pep Squad’s 2012 routine

In the words of American football player Joe Namath, “If you’re not gonna go all the way, why go at all?”Even if the fans run out of ideas, the Pep Squad ng Bayan never will, making sure that they have given more than their best for their beloved Maroons.

As for those who patiently waited despite the weather, possible security threats and the classes for the following day, they only had one thing to say: the UP Pep Squad is worth lining for.