Photo by Mikee Garcia

Text by Jillian Velasco and Cristina Chi

Despite holding 20 podium finishes, most in the UAAP history, the University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad’s glory days seem to fade as they struggle to return to the podium. 

Clad in maroon and black, the squad went on full blast with the theme ‘MaMaWaTaKK’ an embodiment of UP’s cheer Matatapang, Matatalino, Walang Takot Kahit Kanino which was attributed to every iskolar ng bayan.

“MaMaWaTaKK is UP. Ito kami, ito yung characteristics na nagde-describe sa UP na gustong mapakita ng UP Pep Squad,” team captain Meanne Ignacio said.

However, this year’s performance of a squad hungry for redemption failed to propel them to victory.

The former powerhouse found themselves at a 6th place finish for the third straight year since their return from their 2016 boycott, despite the vastly improved stunts, creative pyramid mountings and challenging tosses. 

Nonetheless, team captains Ignacio, Julianne De Vera, and Chloe Lacsamana had no regrets with what they described as a ‘perfect run’, citing the team’s effort at best. 

Masaya naman po kami kahit hindi kami nakabalik sa podium kasi binigay ng bawat isa sa team namin yung best na kaya nilang ibigay,” Ignacio shared.

“What’s important is it was really a good routine and no regrets talaga,” Lacsamana added.

The Fighting Maroons scored an overall total of 622.5 points — 54 more points than their last year’s record — built from 339.5 points in dancing, 86.5 in pyramids, 73.5 in tosses, 63 in tumbling and 62 in stunts while earning only two deduction points.

Despite another dismal finish, the captains believe they still have what it takes to return to their powerhouse status, but it takes one day at a time.

Every year kasi, tina-try namin na lumevel [at] pumantay sa mga teams na gumagaling. At the same time, hindi namin minamadali yung proseso,” Lacsamana said.

“In time, darating din kami doon basta ngayon ang iniisip lang namin is maging better in terms of skills, techniques [at] mas maging confident kami kahit sa training pa lang,” De Verra added.

Meanwhile, National University (NU) kept the crown at Sampaloc as they bagged their sixth gold in seven years with a #MabuhayPilipinas routine, followed by second placer Far Eastern University (FEU) who moonwalked through the MOA arena with a Michael Jackson-inspired performance. Adamson University (AdU) completed the podium finishers at third, gracing the crowd with a Carribean routine. – Reports from Luisa Morales

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