With matching shaved heads, long braids, genie lamps and a flawless Arabian-theme performance, the National University Pep Squad won its breakthrough championship at the 2013 UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
The Bulldogs gave the crowd a jaw-dropping show that took the pep squad to the top—a remarkable improvement from its third place finish last year.
This is NU’s first victory since the competition was established in 1994. The NU cheering team has often been seen as an underdog.
That’s the thing about underdogs. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain—they can push the bar higher, knowing no limits.
And that was precisely what NU did.
Dream come true
For coach Ghicka Bernabe, NU’s big win last Sunday was a dream come true. As the winners were announced, the team members could not help but burst into tears, baring a mix of emotions.
How did the squad get into tiptop winning shape?
Coach Ghicka said that training started last April—six days a week, three to four hours a day.
The coaching staff, with management, had a planning session to discuss the theme of the season.
Everything, down to the smallest detail, was considered—from the costume, props to choreography. “We made sure that everything was effective and authentic,” said coach Ghicka.
The hard work paid off.
As the team savored the sweet success, one member attracted a bit more attention.
Claire Cristobal wowed the crowd with her acrobatic skills—those bone twisters. This NU flyer helped the team grab the top spot in the group stunts category.
She admitted that she was the third choice for the task, and she got the role only after a few complications and injuries suffered by her teammates.
Yet her talent is so impressive that comedian Vice Ganda has already invited the young cheerleader to his TV show “Gandang Gabi Vice.”
But the big question is, what happened to the defending champion, the UP Pep Squad? After proving that its skills are indeed a force to reckon with, why did the team lose? No one seems to have a ready answer.
Despite the loss, the UP Pep Squad remains positive and hopeful, vowing to reclaim the championship title next year.
Finishing first runner-up is nonetheless a big achievement for the UP team. Despite all the miscues in its performance, cocaptain Lian Melegrito says that the team exerted extra effort in executing its stunts this year.
That was evident in its party-theme presentation. Even if the team suffered three falls, and despite the difficulty level, its polished techniques kept its scores up.
In third place was the De La Salle University Pep Squad. The team delivered a clean performance, with only one fall.
Doing a military theme, they were clad in camouflage army outfits, and carried rifle props that were converted into nunchucks or chainsticks.
This year’s UAAP Cheerdance Competition pulled one surprise after another—an event so thrilling it didn’t matter what school the audience was rooting for.