Hail to the chief!
PERHAPS the most peculiar—if not the most famous—cheer in collegiate sports is San Beda College’s “Indian Yell.”
Its thundering beats herald the entry of chubby school kids, known as the Little Indians, during halftime performances.
Excitement builds up even before they emerge from the dugout.
Tapping the Little Indians to perform the “Indian Yell” at NCAA basketball games was the idea of the most venerable cheerleader in San Beda history, Ramon Ventosa, fondly known in the campus as Tito Mon or Señor/Don Ramon, though he preferred everyone call him Mon.
It would be misleading to think that the Little Indians doing the “Indian Yell”—not to mention his other accomplishments—is his greatest legacy to the Bedan community. More than that, Tito Mon touched many lives on campus.
Tito Mon’s death last November left a big void in San Beda; up until his passing, he was still very active, watching the games, cheering his lungs out for the Red Lions.
During the school’s 28-year title drought, he was moderator of the San Beda Cheerleading Association (SBCA) and did his best in motivating the Bedan community to comprise the biggest crowd in the NCAA.
But he also showed that to love one’s school went beyond winning basketball trophies.
“The Don of San Beda cheerleading was a man of loyalty and service,” said one cheerleader, Dennis Dy, in a written post after Mon’s death.
Dy recalled that Tito Mon’s contributions to SBCA were very much appreciated in the early 1990s—a time when the varsity basketball team was not doing well, the cheerleaders lacked inspiration, and the support of the Bedan community was wanting.
“I was there when he first came to help,” said Dy. “He would eventually appoint me as chief cheerleader. In his first year with us, he was able to secure full sponsorship for our jackets and shirts.”
Dy added that, although he hated the jacket due to its retro design—“it looked like it was from the ’70s”—he loved the cheerleading team’s new mentor.
In the late ’90s, Dingdong Dantes, then a fresh high school graduate from Ateneo de Manila, transferred to San Beda for college. Much to everyone’s surprise, he joined the SBCA.
Tito Mon had imposed an initiation rite for new San Beda cheerleaders—they had to stand in the middle of Mendiola Street, facing Centro Escolar University, and then perform a Bedan cheer as loud as possible, or approach a random girl on the street and give her flowers.
Dingdong was not spared from this; when his turn came, a huge crowd turned out. It looked like there was a concert on Mendiola that day.
Several other former Bedan cheerleaders and band members recounted their fondest memories of Tito Mon.
“Tito Mon believed that as a San Beda cheerleader, you have to love your school. And when you perform the cheer, do it from the heart. Tito Mon was like a father to me. I was under his supervision for three years.”—Ram Manangan
“What I really learned from him was that being a Bedan meant being part of a big brotherhood. I just called him ‘Mon,’ not Señor, not Don, and not even Sir, because he felt that no matter what batch you came from, you are a Bedan, and you are a brother… He was a true class act and a gentleman. Beyond teaching us about cheering, he taught us how to live.”—Vincent Cortez
“It was so inspiring to feel the way he loved us like his own children and to see the kind of passion he put into his work. Tito Mon was the epitome of a loyal Bedan. I want to thank him for being such a great cheerleader, and for being a life coach as well. May his legacy live forever in our hearts.”— Ramil R. Gutierrez
“I was a band member. Though we were never under him, we would always work together. I remember everyone being tired, but there was Tito Mon still shouting his lungs out.”—J.P. Ines
“I remember when I was still a band recruit, we were training with the cheerleaders. Tito Mon got frustrated due to our erroneous playing of the ‘Indian Yell.’ He walked toward us, took a drum beater and played the ‘Indian Yell’ as loud as he could. His hands trembled after playing. His passion and attention to detail were truly remarkable.”—Miguel Senador
Though it saddens us that there will be another vacant seat at the San Beda gallery in the coming 92nd NCAA season, the Bedan community knows that Tito Mon will be watching from above, along with Mang Roger and other Bedan diehards who have gone to heaven.
Rest assured we will treasure our memories of Tito Mon and preserve his legacy—not just in cheerleading but also in living life like a true Bedan, serving school, country and God.
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