By: Tamara Natividad

MANILA – The fruit of hard work truly is sweet – not to mention shiny, round and satisfyingly golden.

Donned in all-black outfits, Filipino dance troupe A-Team wowed World Hip-Hop Dance Competition judges on Aug. 10 through their four-minute routine that earned them a gold finish. Then and there, it was no surprise that five University of the Philippines-Diliman students were part of the group.

The talented crew is composed of 50 members coming from various fields and schools, however, 38 only competed. Five of which are UPD students: Freshmen Speech Communication Major Jose Mari Planes, Sophomore Business Administration and Accountancy Major Angela Rayos del Sol, Junior Interior Design Major Rei Prieto, Sophomore Geodetic Engineering Major Jose Dorado III, and Ricardo Garcia Jr. who is in his first year in Sports Studies program.

Topping the line-up are sibling coaches MJ and Angelica Arda who are UPD graduates and alumni of UP Streetdance Club.

A-Team showed their dancing chops in the Mega Crew division of the Hip Hop International-organized contest. The event is widely celebrated for featuring more than 40 acts hailing from different parts of the world and showcasing top names in the Hip Hop league.

It was through each of these members’ perseverance that the opportunity to dance at an international event was made possible. Rei Prieto shared that preparations went beyond the hours they put in practicing their routine. The team also raised funds so they can afford a flight to Las Vegas.

“Our team trains around three to four hours every day,” Angela Rayos del Sol remarked. “This includes the technique training, learning of new choreography, blocking, and work-outs to keep our bodies in condition. With most of our members being students, it was definitely a challenge for us to balance our energy and time for both academics and training.”

Meanwhile, Dorado explained that the victory was not served in a silver platter. “The training for our competition is…unexplainable. It’s rigorous, exhausting, mentally draining, even your emotional strength will be tested, but at the end of it all, you’ll feel happy and better than who you were yesterday,” Dorado said.

Grateful that they are able to compete at an international level alone, the first place title came as an even sweeter reward to their hard work. In Dorado’s humble words, “We were not expecting anything. We just poured our heart out on the stage and expected nothing in return.”

Despite this major achievement, they have yet to celebrate their victory. With some members still in Las Vegas and academic work to deal with, they explained that it is hard to find time to celebrate.

Not new to climbing the podium, A-Team has already placed in several competitions within the three years after establishment. According to their Facebook page, A-Team bagged second place in the 2011 Slimmers World Step-Up Philippines, the very first competition they entered. They continued to compete at both local and international contests, including championship at the World Supremacy Battlegrounds 2013 in Sydney, Australia.


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