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October 11, 2010 / whyhansdantes

State U’s cheerdance victory at the UAAP: A home view

*This article has been published on Asian Correspondent, September 19, 2010. This is a feature on the University of the Philippines Athletic Association Season 73 Cheerdance competition – but from a different angle: the audiences, and in particular those who rooted for the victors, the Universtiy of the Philippines, to whom the ‘State U’ tag was referring to. Despite that, it must be remembered that it is not the only State University in the Philippines – only that it is the only one in the UAAP. But for the purpose of avoiding undue offense, I made the UAAP distinction clear in the revised title.


The Araneta Coliseum (


State U’s cheerdance victory at the UAAP: A home view
By Hans Joshua Dantes

Just last week, September 12, 2010, the shouts and screams of around 20,000 spectators filled the Araneta Coliseum, dubbed the Mecca of Philippine Sports and Entertainment. The event: the Cheerdance Competition for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 73.

The first place was bagged by the University of the Philippines (UP), followed by Far Eastern University (FEU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST). Needless to say, the UP Pep Squad was most ecstatic in receiving this year’s championship. But while they have their own stories of tears and sweat to tell, there’s always another lens with which to look at the state university’s well-received victory.

If sports becomes the battlefield, you find an image of the cheering squads as heroes of their respective universities. But behind the glory of it all lay the average spectator – students and alumni alike who literally stood by rooting for State U. And, coming back to the image of the battlefield, they would be your average GI, looking up to heroes but no less doing their part on that fateful day.

The Crowd

The competition was set at 2 in the afternoon, but even the early birds found high noon to be a wee bit late, as most of the seats near the UP Pep Squad in the upper levels were already taken.

“As early as 12, people were already filling the place,” said Ian Imperial, a 3rd year Journalism student. “I was in the aisle back then looking for seats at Upper Box B but all were taken, so I decided to just stand in my place.”

He later transferred to a better area, but it didn’t spare him the heat brought by the inflow of more spectators, let alone the latecomers.

“Our spot was okay, but the heat was getting to us; I was quite sweaty by the time the cheerdance was over,” said Imperial.

By the time the competition began, those from the other schools were just coming in. Some, like the FEU and UST, both clad in yellow, had numerous cheerers, but by no means uncomfortable. But any space or isle for UP, still playing the microcosm of Philippine society, was clogged to the brim by standing audiences, the way train rides are during rush hours.

Many who came to the said area were members of UP’s cheerleading classes, who, despite the saddening losses at the basketball games (the season saw a winless UP Fighting Maroons basketball team), still rushed to the Araneta determined to see UP bounce back at the cheerdance.

“It’s just nice to see the entire UP community supporting the Pep Squad – it was very fun,” said Fatima Davila, a 2nd year Education student and a member of the cheerleading classes.

Notwithstanding the requirements to be fulfilled for their classes, Davila found the freebies and paraphernalia fueling the excitement.

“Everytime somebody gives out the cheering materials, everyone just wants to get a hold of one,” said Davila.

The Circumstances

True enough, the performance of the different universities made the UP crowd feel formidable obstacles.

As Imperial observed: “I could say that the performances of all schools stepped up compared to previous seasons. Although there are occasional lapses, the excellent performers just stand out.”

Inevitably, the UP crowd took special notice of their close rivals, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, who holds the most number of championships in the competition’s history.  The UP Pep Squad, whose record follows UST, held the latest winning streak from 2007-2008 until it was snatched by the FEU Cheering Squad the previous year, hence gaining UP’s extra attention.

Needless to say, when UP got their turn on the turf, the home crowd was all cheers and screams. Small trash talks also flutter here and there, as with many other contests, but the spirit of sportsmanship seems to have remained. Going up (or down) amidst the ecstatic audience was something only braved by few, including some vendors bringing iced tea or hotdogs and popcorn – business as usual, of course.

“Some of us get stuck in the middle; we bring our products full-packed because going through that crowd could get us either with no way in, or no way out,” said Lea Juarez, a snack vendor at the Araneta.


The ordeal was done by 5pm; suspense kept the commotions down and the drums silent as Boom Gonzalez announced the winners. UST’s name was first on the list – third place – and in the spirit of fair fun, the UP audience joined the “Go USTe” cheer of the Salinggawi, hotdog balloons alongside UP fiesta flags. UST seemed to have returned the favor when it was UP’s turn in the championships, drums and all. Meanwhile, the FEU cheerers were disappointed, but by no means broken with their cheers still resounding for the prestige of 2nd place.

For the spectators standing for hours, the train ride is over. And sure enough, it was a worthwhile trip.


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