MANILA, Philippines — Expect another high-risk, high-reward performance from the National University Pep Squad as it seeks to regain its lost glory in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
After falling down to third place last May in a limited three-minute performance with just performers and without the presence of drums, NU Pep Squad coach Ghicka Bernabe said they will make the fans inside the MOA Arena dance with their ‘cheer-obics’ theme — cheerdance and aerobics – this time.
“We focused on dance this tournament. In the previous competitions we lacked in dancing but this time we exerted extra time on that. Our performance is very alive, because in cheer-obics or aerobics there’s no chance to have a sad or fierce moment,” said Bernabe in Filipino. “The audience, not only the old ones but also the young ones, will enjoy our routine because even us, coaches, were dancing while watching them perform and hearing music from the 80s and 90s.”
The NU Pep squad will perform seventh after the defending champion FEU Pep Squad’s Francis Magalona-themed routine.
With the league reverting to the pre-pandemic tournament format with a maximum of 25 performers and a 5-6 minutes routine including the presence of drums before a full-capacity arena, the NU coach said it will be the same fast-paced cheering squad that set the standard in the past decade, winning six of the last eight seasons.
“I feel that our routine is more lively and in terms of difficulty, it’s still difficult and fast pacing. But I would say I’m very proud of the dance segments because if they made us coaches dance it means they share their energy with the spectators. That’s the goal, we have to make the crowd dance,” she said.
Last May, Bernabe couldn’t stop wondering about the change in the judging system as the NU PEP Squad’s 90’s-themed routine only scored 681 points with a six-point penalty and deduction, finishing behind champion FEU Cheering Squad and runner-up Adamson Pep Squad.
In the second midseason extravaganza this year, the multi-titled coach admitted they tried to adjust their routine based on the standards of the previous season, but the team couldn’t hide its fast-paced nature.
That’s why they decided to stick to their character.
“We tried, we actually tried to slow down the routine and to downgrade the difficulty. You all know that I have other coaches with me, our goal right after the performance was to slow down. But in the process of doing the routine, it didn’t come up, it’s the same NU. So we decided to stick to where NU Pep Squad is known,” said Bernabe.
After failing to complete a ‘three-peat’ six months ago, Bernabe said her cheerleaders are out to redeem themselves from that heartbreak with a lively routine.
“It’s actually heartbreaking for everyone and to motivate them is to keep the faith because, for me as their coach and their number one fan, I believe the team has become stronger. Everyone is well-bonded and I have senior members who stayed with the team because our goal is to win back the championship,” Bernabe said.
“We are challenged this season, we all know that we didn’t land on the same spot last season but at least now we prepared well and worked really hard for this season. Praying for the best performance,” she added.