The University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad marked the dawn of a new era as a fresh roster of maroons rocked the blue mats with their Black Eyed Peas-inspired routine in the UAAP Season 85 Cheerdance Competition (CDC), Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Clad in shades of black and maroon, the Diliman-based cheering squad poured their hearts out to execute a memorable debut performance, garnering a total score of 575.5 for a sixth-place finish in the competition.
They tallied 72 points for tumbling, 60 for stunts, 50.5 for tosses, 68 for pyramids and 331 for dance. Meanwhile, six points were deducted from their routine due to penalties and errors.
This marks the fifth consecutive season that State U placed sixth in the CDC. Last season, a 15-member UP Pep Squad grooved to the hits of Korean pop artist PSY.
UP Pep’s last podium finish was in Season 78 at bronze, when the team filed a protest against the judging panel to contest the results.
With eight championship titles under its belt, the UP Pep Squad remains tied with the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe for the most wins in the history of the UAAP CDC.
Entering the season on a clean slate, the UP Pep Squad was previously plagued by issues following an overhaul of the entire group this year.
“It’s a new team— different set of performers, different set of coaches,” said UP Pep Squad alumna and current head coach Fae Pascua.
“We want to build a new legacy moving forward. That’s one way to put it: new generation, new everything,” Pascua added.
The revamp comes after the team’s former coaches Lalaine Pereña and Pio Opinaldo were accused of collecting unauthorized fees and abusing several members of the squad physically and emotionally. Both coaches have since resigned from their respective posts.
Apart from these pre-season hurdles, the maroons also experienced technical struggles in building their actual routine, citing time constraints and unconducive training venues among key reasons.
“[We only had] less than two months actually to start our UAAP cheer dance training. We [also] don’t have enough space— na regular sa amin ‘pag nagte-training,” co-captain Triste Noberto said.
Although the new face of the UP Pep Squad was unable to break the sixth-place streak, Coach Pascua maintained her satisfaction with the team’s performance and cited how this is only the beginning of their journey.
“We were really happy [that] we were able to show what we prepared for these past few months. I think our legacy is just about to begin. Let’s see where it will take us,” Pascua said.