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Get ready to party with the UP Pep Squad

By Josiah Albelda Posted Sep 12th 2013

The three-time defending champion UP Pep Squad goes for a record ninth overall title in the 2013 UAAP Cheerdance Competition.

Are you ready to party like it's the end of the world?

The UP Pep Squad will help you do just that.

Doing away from a more "serious" theme, the Pep Squad ng Bayan is set to rock the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday in the 2013 UAAP Cheerdance Competition, with the three-peat champions gunning for a fourth straight title.

And while the UP Pep Squad has left their legions of fans -- and haters -- enamored with their sophisticated routines year after year, the team opts for a more interactive run this time, vowing to inspire the crowd to join them in dancing to the beat of the drums.

"When we perform, the audience watches. Now, the audience will perform with us while we're dancing and while they're doing stunts," said long-time assistant coach NJ Antonio.

Coach misses chunk of build-up

After successfully silencing competition with their freedom-themed routine in 2012, the UP Pep Squad experienced rougher sailing in their preparation for this year's tilt.

For the first time in more than a decade, Coach Lala Perena missed a chunk of their build-up and Antonio says it affected the way they perfected their routine.

"It was hard," Antonio shared. "Coach Lala is like the worst critic."

But team captain Lian Melegrito stressed that they have finished their routine even before Perena left, but admitted that it was hard preparing without their meticulous coach.

"We started early this year and we focused on our routine," she said. "Even before she left, we already had a routine. But it was difficult because she's the one who's really hands-on when it comes to cleaning up and adjusting our routine."

"She gave us her full trust," Antonio added. "When she came back, she was satisfied with what we did."

Level difficulty up

Melegrito says the theme is very different from last year's, especially because the 2013 routine's theme is far from being "serious."

However, if there is one thing that separates the two routines, it has to be the level of difficulty, which the skipper said has gone several notches higher.

"We increased the level of difficulty, but not that much so we can lessen the possibility of creating errors," Antonio quipped.

The assistant coach also said that the team is pressured to complete a perfect, error-free run of a routine he says will feature everything new.

"Everything is new," stressed Antonio. "We won't repeat any stunts and it is totally different in terms of choreography."

Back to the community

Come Sunday, expect thousands of white-clad UP Pep supporters to flock to the Mall of Asia Arena, ready to move and groove along with the winningest team in UAAP cheerdance history.

And with the team vying for a ninth title, Melegrito believes the support they get from the UP community is what makes them go for greater things and attempt to make history.

"This is for the UP community," she said. "We are so thankful because they inspire us to do good and they are always behind us. That is why instead of getting pressured, we are actually more excited to bring back the support they have always given us."

In a university starving for basketball wins, students, alumni and professors look forward to the cheerdance competition for a respite from all the losing.

And after being witnesses to the UP Pep Squad's success through the last 14 years, the community now gets to join the fun because party rock is just about to begin.