Seven months removed from the throne the National University Pep Squad delivered a performance to remember that announced its return to its rightful spot as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Cheerdance Competition standard of excellence.
NU left the 18,029-strong crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena on a rainy Saturday night gasping for air in between oohs and aahs in every difficult stunt nailed perfectly and aerial acrobatics that seemingly defied gravity in every twist and twirl in midair to rule the Season 85 edition of the much-anticipated spectator event.
The Ghicka Bernabe-mentored squad came back with a vengeance after sliding down to a bronze medal finish last season by outshining dethroned champion Far Eastern University Cheering Squad with a “cheerobics”-inspired routine executed with perfection.
“I don’t have any other emotion to express right now but happiness because this is my last season with the NU Pep Squad,” Bernabe, who has decided to leave the team after 12 years to get married, said.
“My happiness right now is bigger than the arena.”
NU proved to be a cut above the rest as it wowed the panel of judges to collect 723 points to win it all as the competition reverted to its pre-pandemic format of a maximum of 25 performers per team with each routine running up to six minutes.
NU also bagged the P50,000 champion’s purse.
From its loud and colorful aerobics costumes to 80s pop music medley to its amazing stunts, towering pyramids, tumbling and well-choreographed dance, the NU Pep Squad blew the competition away with its six-minute routine despite coming in next to an equally stunning performance by FEU.
Unfazed by the Season 84 winner’s clean Francis Magalona-themed routine, NU showed poise and confidence in running its performance to capture its seventh title in nine editions of the event.
This puts the NU Pep Squad a win away from joining the elite club of CDC champions University of the Philippines Pep Squad and University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which won eight titles each.
FEU, which won the crown in the return of the competition last May after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, settled for second place with 719 points.
FEU received P30,000 cash prize.
UST, which paid homage to Lady Gaga, salvaged a podium finish for the first time since 2017 at third place.
The Salinggawi Dance Troupe garnered 640 points and pocketed P20,000.
The University of the East Pep Squad ended fourth with 606.5 points while Season 84 runner-up Adamson Pep Squad missed the podium as it slid to fifth spot with 595 points.
Landing at sixth was UP (575.5 points), followed by De La Salle Animo Squad (528.5 points) and Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles (502.5 points).