Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales and Beatriz Zamora

UP’s back, shout it out.

Today, an entire arena watched with bated breath as the Maroons took center stage once more.

Eyes bright, fists clenched–it was not only the sea of maroon who were thirsty for another groundbreaking performance from the Pep Squad ng Bayan.

After a surprising third-place finish in 2015, the Diliman squad went on a year-long hiatus from the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. The team filed a formal complaint about the competition’s results which gave National University its third title in a row.

Clad in maroon and purple, the UP Pep Squad told the story of an iskolar ng bayan with the theme Maroon akong Isko, putting emphasis on the struggle of students for state funding in the country’s premier national university.

Ultimately, it was not the comeback everyone expected, but for the UP community, it was the narrative of every iskolar ng bayan.

An isko would never back out of a struggle. After 20 years of bagging the podium finish, the Fighting Maroons face a challenge to return stronger than ever after sliding to sixth place from a strong finish in 2015.

With a rookie-laden squad, questions of inexperience will always be an issue. Equipped with guts of steel and unmatched grit, the UP Pep Squad still delivered a routine which made their university proud.

“Ginagawa lang namin to para sa UP community, para din sa supporters… hanggang dulo nandyan sila kahit anong mangyari, yun yung pinanghuhugutan namin, dun kami humuhugot,” said captain Thea Obanil.

But the squad would not go home empty handed. The Fighting Maroons bagged bronze in the group stunts category, placing behind season hosts Far Eastern University and CDC champions Adamson University.

In the end, the UP Pep Squad is happy to bring the fight of the iskolar ng bayan to the UAAP arena once more.

“Kasi for me, walang ibang makakapantay sa pagcheer ng UP crowd para sa UP pep squad,” Obanil said.


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