Defending champion National University seeks to extend its reign when it shoots for a title repeat in the much-anticipated University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 Cheerdance Competition today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The decorated NU Pep Squad, aims to bag its eighth title overall, is set to perform second in the competition slated to begin at 2 p.m.
It will be a challenging year for NU as it will try to defend its crown sans long-time coach Ghika Bernabe, who decided to settle down after steering the squad back into the throne in her farewell stint last year.
Youthful new mentor Gab Bajacan, however, vows to keep the NU Pep Squad’s winning tradition alive under his watch.
“The challenge right now is more on me. I am more on the cheering side and I am also the designer as well. Coach Ghicka is more of the motherly love type of coach. Si Coach Jess is really a dance coach,” Bajacan said.
“So imagine I have to be a mother, a dancer and a cheerleader at the same time.”
True to its tag as this generation’s CDC royalty, NU will run a routine inspired by The King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley.
Last season’s runner-up, Far Eastern University Cheering Squad will perform seventh with a Super Mario-inspired routine.
“Our focus this year is to perform the theme which is far from our usual theme of pop icons,” team captain Sarah Jean Quintero said as FEU shoots to reclaim the title it lost in the last edition.
The University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe is also determined to better their third place finish last year.
The eight-time champions will ride the current K-Pop wave, paying homage to Korean pop group Blackpink, hoping to end a 17-year title drought.
“For this year, we just made sure that everybody’s going to have fun and that Salinggawi will be able to stand up for what a lot of the people are trying to say that this year’s CDC will be saving the best for the last since we’re going to be the last performers,” UST head coach Mark Chaiwalla said.
Kicking off the crowd-drawing event will be the season-host University of the East running a 90s anime-themed routine.
A Super Bowl-inspired program will be the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ piece as third performers followed by the Adamson Pep Squad, which will display a Trolls-themed showpiece.
The league’s other eight-time champs, University of the Philippines Pep Squad, will be performing fifth and is set to honor its own, the Eraserheads, with an ‘Alapaap’-inspired routine.
Little is known about the De La Salle University Animo Squad’s routine, except for their promise to rock the venue with its “LS Get Loud” theme as the sixth performers.
Some rule changes will be implemented for this edition, according to the new head judge Patricia Bianca Valencia.
The timer for performances will only begin once the last member of the team steps on the blue mat. Teams will be given five to six minutes to complete their routine and are allowed 30 seconds to recover after their final pose.
In addition to the usual judges, the league has also invited a Malaysian judge for the competition.