“We want our routine to be described as something remarkable. We want them to remember us even after the season because everyone was able to relate with us.”
This was the statement of National University Pep Squad Head Coach Ghicka Bernabe in an interview with The Manila Times when asked how their team would want the crowd to describe their another yet heart-pumping six-minute routine as the team shoots for a back-to-back and sixth championship crown in the Cheerdance Competition of UAAP Season 82 to be held in the afternoon today.
This season, the NU Pep Squad, known for its flawless performances, will show off a breathtaking cheerdance routine inspired by Philippine culture, Bernabe said, in time for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games starting November 30.
“It’s about showcasing the beauty of the Philippines — from the music, costumes and steps — that will surely make you appreciate the Philippines. It’s also very timely that SEA Games will happen here in the country. It’s about time to really be pro-Philippines. Through our music and our routine, we will be able to show how great Filipinos are,” the 31-year-old coach explained.
Bernabe said the competing members of the NU Pep Squad this season is composed of 14 rookies, but she was quick to add there was nothing that could stop the team from getting into the top.
The Sampaloc-based squad, she said, took six months to complete their cheerdance routine, which is expected to top their previous performances in the league.
Currently, the NU Pep Squad is the team to beat with five championship titles — including a four-peat streak starting in 2013.
Following a dismal fifth-place finish in 2017, NU came back from the dead with their routine inspired by the Pixar animated film “Coco” last year, finishing with 711 points — the first in tumbling, stunts and pyramids, and second in tosses. Moreover, the NU Pep Squad had no error deductions.
To recall, the NU Pep Squad was most talked about when it shocked the country with its flawless “futuristic” routine in 2016. NU was the only squad to score above 700 points, tallying 711 points, during the 80th season of UAAP.
For the Bulldogs squad, however, the championship title is just their “very last wish.”
“All we want is a perfect and safe routine because everything will follow after that. We just really want all the sacrifices, missed occasions and moments with our families to be worth it,” Bernabe said.
This was echoed by star flyer and senior member Mary-Ann Calleja, who has been cheering for NU Pep Squad for six years and competing in the UAAP for five years.
“This season we aim to really complete our routine and enjoy it because when we do, the rest will follow,” Calleja said.
“We’re really confident [in winning the championship] because we take it as a case that tells us we don’t have any other competitors but ourselves,” she added.
For the group stunts, the NU Pep Squad will be led by flyer Hiyamine Pili, a 19-year-old cheer dancer who bagged the championship title competing in the same category last season.
“We were given a very good routine. We were given the winning formula over and over again and it’s up to us on the day of the competition on how we will take the pressure and fight for our stunts. And surely we will fight,” Pili said.
The NU Pep Squad will perform last among the eight teams of the UAAP at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.