UPDATED: The NU Pep Squad rose from the ashes as they brought home the crown in the 2018 UAAP Cheerdance Competition on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Defending champion, Adamson Pep Squad, failed to secure a back-to-back championship as the second runner-up, also taken down a step by the FEU Cheering Squad who came in as the first runner-up, concluding the much-anticipated event of the season.

The group stunts standings were no different, with three of the winning squads in the same spots, locking in their victories.

The San Marcelino-based Falcons returned the UAAP CDC championship to the Bulldogs this year, putting an end to their short-lived reign and adding another win on NU’s shelf. Living up to cheerdance tradition, the themes of each squad varied in color, creativity, and execution.

UE Pep Squad got the beat of the drums started with their high ponytails and skin-toned costumes inked with meticulous, tribal designs in honor of their Pintados concept, showing how it’s done in the way of the Warriors.

Starting fresh and simple, the UP Pep Squad returned to the mats in a uniformed get-up and routine, staying consistent from their hairstyle to stunts, and making the maroon-clad crowd cheer for their no-fail tactics. The Diliman-bound squad presented an iceberg-esque performance that showed less but meant more with #IskulayngSablay, doning the significant colors green, yellow, and purple.

Slaying with #DivaTomas, an upbeat and empowering tribute to legendary pop star Beyonće, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe gave their loyal yellow and black crowd a show to remember, yet failed to land a spot on the top three despite the overwhelming outpour of support felt all the way from España.

The Green and White representatives of Taft, Animo Pep Squad made sure that we can’t stop their beat with a Hairspray-inspired performance, making a mark on the entire arena as the audience made themselves part of the performance, with a collective effort to form images that complemented their squad’s dance moves.

True to their intentions of bouncing back strong in the competition, the NU Pep Squad in their Diá de Muertos themed performance that was reminiscent to the Disney Pixar film, Coco, made for a colorful squad and audience that was hard to miss. Their almost flawless execution made sure that the squad was bound to come back from the dead and reclaim their title.

Giving off whimsical vibes, the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion came next in yet another disney inspired display, with silver crowns and royal-like blue and white costumes. The subtle magical aesthetic provided good contrast to the dark red rose petals that graced the mats during their time, accompanied by eye-catching, music box type of moves only they can pull off.

First-runner up, FEU Cheering Squad really did have the punk in their glittering performance, complete with a 70’s groove in both their moves and outfits that boogied their way to the final three. The Tamaraws stepped their game up as the just dethroned Falcons threatened to steal their thunder as the last performers after their stunts, allegedly the most awaited exhibition.

Hakuna Matata was the chosen mantra of last year’s first time winners, the Adamson Pep Squad, paying homage to the Disney childhood classic, The Lion King. The stage became the prowling grounds for the King of the Jungle, giving AdU the bravery they needed to fight their way to the top again, to no avail. The UAAP Cheerdance Competition, always a showcase of school pride and a break from the usual ball-related grind, concluded this year with a power play between the 8 schools, particularly NU, FEU, and ADU that sweeped all the categories and gathered higher expectations from the audience that will surely manifest next year, in the UAAP’s 82nd season. ■

(Photo by Skip Tan.)


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