Far Eastern University (FEU) Cheering Squad’s victory in the 2009 Samsung Cheerdance Competition has long been overdue. Always placing third in ranking for the past five years, they finally made it to the championship beating the two-time champion University of the Philippines (UP) Varsity Pep Squad and even displacing the five-year champion University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe out of the top three.
It is also such a sweet victory for the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion who was adjudged first runner-up adding another feather to the cap of Ateneo Blue Eagles who is currently the overall topnotcher in the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) 72nd season. The girls’ Michael Jackson moon walk on the lifters’ strong hands were executed creatively and uniquely.
I am speaking from the point of view of an ordinary spectator who only got interested in cheerleading competitions by virtue of my being a stage mother to a cheerleader. My husband and I, both journalists, only watch national news on television but were forced to watching cheerdance competitions since our little girl decided to become an athlete in her high school days.
Back to FEU Cheering Squad. Saving the best for last was one could only surmise when they made their opening number. Donning a sarimanok-inspired costume, the team’s concept was clear. The stunts were sharp and clean. Judges gave them 86.1 percent.
There had been competitions in the past that we thought FEU should be second placer and was better than UST. This favored team finally made it to the top after much hard work and dedication. They deserve the Php 225,000 cash prize, the highest ever given by sponsor Samsung in the Philippines, so far, plus 35 units of Samsung E1125 cellphones.
Garnering 83.4 percent, first runner-up Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion was even surprised of their victory ending a long drought for Ateneo in the field of cheerleading. Samsung Stunner Award for 2009 was given to Ateneo’s Sari Campos who demurely gave a sweet smile. It was Frances Fleta or FF of UP Pep Squad, a bedimpled beauty, who was 2008 Samsung Stunner.
Second runner-up UP Varsity Pep Squad got 83.1 percent. The cheerdance had traced UP history marked by the students day-to-day living in various periods. The UP sablay and the Ikot jeep were the historical markers that cut across time. A supposed to be second toss as a follow-up from the first was not executed because of one accidental fall. They looked tight too.
UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe had one tumbling that almost became a major error at the opening. Was it Thai or Egyptian-inspired dance? It was gracefully done. I do not like the ending though. What was supposed to be an extraordinary pyramid with the two girls walking ala St. Michael Archangel over two levels atop each other did not have a good meaning for me. The yellow color overpowering the maroon speaks of a long-time rivalry between UST and UP. It was not well meant.
DLSU Animo Squad and Adamson Pep Squad both had major falls. La Salle’s green checkered costume got me asking what is it they want to portray. Was it a clown? Please forgive me. Three major falls, for sure, were given big deductions from La Salle pulling their score down.
Adamson Pep Squad’s concept reminded me of the UP Pep Squad’s tribal theme in 2008. They also sported tattoos on their white costume.
University of the East Pep Squad had also this public jeepney concept around the University Belt. The red flag-inspired design of their costume is truly Filipino that was made unforgettable by Francis Magalona’s song Mga Kababayan ko.
A member of the National University Pep Squad was obviously in pain when she attempted to do a tumbling. Her injured leg wrapped with black support was only able to make a half instead of the full tumbling.
“What is it that you get from cheerleading?” I once asked my daughter when she came home injured that has happened not only once but many times.
Virtues of humility, magnanimity; discipline, overcoming oneself; and learning to be the best you can be – these were her usual reply to her mother whose only wish is for her daughter to come home safely – with body and soul intact.