Representing the Philippine Team, the UP Varsity Pep Squad is leaving for Tokyo on May 14 to compete in the 3rd Open International Cheerleading Competition in Japan.
My daughter is all the same excited for her team although she is absent in this year’s competition because of an injury she had last March that needed a surgery. I did not see her shed a tear for this international competition she will be missing but I saw her cry a lot during the Elevate 9 Dance Concert last March because she cannot dance Elena, her favorite warrior dance. Coach Lala said my daughter stands out onstage dancing Elena.
“Sasayaw ako! Sasayaw ako!” she silently insisted when UP physiotherapist Czar told us parents she must have an ACL operation to cure her knee injury. Not being able to dance during the concert in the evening was a shock for her more painful than the injury she had in the morning.
This daughter of mine has got what it takes to be a champion. I knew it the day she told me she wants to become a cheerleader in high school. She has that fire inside and a focus she only knows where to get and how to switch on. Her compassion in the food she eats being a vegetarian and her discipline during long hours of training she devotes everyday can attest to this.
Multiplied many times over in each of the athletes, these qualities are what make each of them a winner. But the Peppers (Coaches Lala, NJ, Suyin and Brent call the UP Pep Squad as such) go beyond these qualities. Cheerleaders go beyond cheering for the UP Fighting Maroons. They not only live the indefatigable maroon spirit drawn from fighting slaves of Jamaica whom Spain called cimarrones during the 17th century. (As what the word maroon connotes, the slaves fought the status quo for 150 years to maintain independence.)
They know the true meaning of independence. While having sugar and spice, and everything nice, the Peppers have imbibed the virtue of sincerity to attain individual independence yet holding on to team work. The routines make each individual shine; multiply the beautifully executed dance steps and stunts, one gets a clean, sharp and artistic expression of a concept that is uniquely the UP Pep Squad’s.
They go beyond winning. Champion of UAAP for two consecutive years after a five-year drought, the UP Pep Squad has not only brought the University of the Philippines honor in 2007 and 2008. They have also taught us the true meaning of cheerleading.
My daughter has taught us the virtues of cheerleading. She has been cheering us on our daily individual battles in what we collectively call life. Tugod (Ay, sugod pala), Tuhod! Win or lose, she remains to be our champion.
Good luck to the Philippine Team!