My 2015 UAAP Cheerdance Competition review: The “winning” routine (UPDATED)

2nd update (10/16):

UP has formally filed complaints over the judges’ decision. I definitely support this move and their plans to boycott next year’s competition if their questions aren’t addressed.

* * * *

1st update:

UP Pep Squad’s stunts, tosses, and pyramids are posted here. Success rate: 100 percent.

* * * *

It’s hard to make sense of this year’s UAAP Cheerdancing Competition.

In 2013, with the more difficult Party routine, UP had to play bridesmaid to NU because of the former’s performance errors.

Last year, NU had a more difficult routine and relatively clean performance (notwithstanding its 15-point penalty), so it made sense that they were the champions.

It seemed then that striking that balance between difficulty and cleanliness was the winning formula to win the championship. After all, what’s the point of having difficult stunts if you can’t execute them properly? In sports, a score is earned not by effort but by execution.

This is why I was confident about ranking Saturday’s competition as follows: UP, UST, NU.

UST was pristine in its performance but its routine didn’t have as much difficulty in its routine relative to the two schools. NU had more difficult stunts in some areas (tumblings and tosses), but overall, its routine was marred by many errors.

UP’s, while not error-free, still had a high degree of difficulty (transitions/mountings, partner stunts, and pyramids). In fact, it earned no deductions, according to this scoresheet, which makes all this all the more a mystery.

When UP was announced third placers, I was in shock, but in my head, I was trying to be objective and make sense of the judging, hence my tempered tweet at that point:

I was in no way conceding that NU had a better performance than UP, but I figured that okay, maybe UST won first place for the cleanliness in its execution.

But when UST was announced as second placers, the gloves were off:

There had been many tweets saying it was a “cooking show,” which implied that the judges were bribed. I don’t personally know the judges, but I trust that these are people with high integrity, at least on paper. So no, I refuse to acknowledge such a below-the-belt accusation. I would rather question the judging process.

The criteria for judging have undergone many iterations, mainly to address accusations of biased judging and other unpopular decisions in the past. The UAAP league has recently settled with having one judge scoring just one specific category for the technical aspects of cheerleading, and another set of judges for dance. No one is judging the performance in its entirety; the winner is determined not as a whole, but by the sum of its parts.

Hence, you have, what in my opinion, is the worst winning routine of UAAP Cheerdance.

I give you your 2015 champion:

Yep, that’s 30 seconds’ worth of errors. Actually, even if you judge this on a per category basis, I find the scores questionable. NU topped the pyramid category – please point me to exactly which pyramid they may have earned that many points in terms of successful execution, not failed attempts.


17 thoughts on “My 2015 UAAP Cheerdance Competition review: The “winning” routine (UPDATED)

  1. Kevin says:

    NU winning this year was pretty much like UP back in 2008. That year, UP had the highest level of difficulty but had so many errors. Also, that year was the last time there was a record breaking crowd.

    I am truly happy that NU won, they deserve it. In my opinion they are advancing cheerleading in our Pilipinas. Out of all the teams in the Philippines I am confident to say that they can go almost head-to-head against Thailand and Japan.

    I am not happy with my beloved alma mater placing 3rd. They deserved 2nd place behind NU.
    As much as I love UP pep paying tribute to our UP community, I don’t think a routine paying tribute to UP will win 1st place. Throwback to 2009 (may bluebook pa nga eh), when they also placed 3rd.

    FYI: Paula Nunag was a UP pep squad captain.


    • Jason says:

      I need to review the video, but I think UP had no falls in 2008. There were many wobbly stunts and pyramids, but lahat nilaban nila. Besides, no other squad came close to the difficulty and dance element of the Tribo routine then. I maintain that it’s one of the best winning routines of all time, as I’ve previously written here. To compare it to NU’s 2015 mess is a travesty. 😀

      Again, refer to the video on how bad NU’s errors were. Also, it topped the pyramid category when it only managed to execute one out of four correctly. That’s nuts. That’s why I made that point about 2013 – eh di dapat nanalo din UP despite their errors.

      That’s why I was confident about UP this year – degree of difficulty was high and there were no falls; there were a few wobbly ones but all were executed. I don’t see how the theme would have been an issue.

      And yup, I know about Paula.

      One thing I agree with you is how cheerleading in the country has grown so fast in the last few years.


  2. King says:

    It’s hard to make sense of this year’s UAAP Cheerdancing Champion if you dont know what are the elements of cheerdance and the criteria of judging. Ofcourse, to those who do not know what are the basis of judging, it’s easy to rank what you think the best dancer ever happened. But with the entire competition, it is not all about dance. Come on! It’s a combination of TECHNICALITY and DIFFICULTY OF STUNTS. Sana dina sila tumawag ng judge for stunts, tumblings, pyramids, tosses at DANCE and EXECUTION nalang ang criteria for judging. So funny how those fantards keep on insisting that NU didn’t deserve the crown eh halos pinaghirapan din naman nila yun title. Ni hindi niyo nga maexplain how they did the double full twisting nila and from second to seconds transitions to pyramid nila eh. Aminin niyo, pagsamahin niyo man lahat ng pyramid nila versus the pyramid of NU, di nila magagawa yun eh in just one event. To the writer of this article, i hope you experience competing in any national cheerdance/cheerleading competition so that you won’t ask again any further questions why they deserved the crown. You will never know the criteria of judging unless you experience it. Sabi nga ng National University: Winners train the losers to complain. So stop and deal with it.

    -former NCAA School’s Pepsquad member here.
    NCC 2009 and 2010 performer
    NCAA 2014 Cheerleading Competition performer


    • Jason says:

      If the NCC is okay with haphazardly executed routines with sequences of falls, then that league is free to award said routines as champions.

      This is why in my post, I would have been fine if UST was crowned as the winner with its almost faultless execution in both cheerleading AND dance, which I personally find is the hallmark of a true UAAP CDC champion based on its history.

      The list of stunts and pyramids that UP showed is posted here. Since you are a cheerleader, I trust you recognize their difficulty. Their success rate in executing ALL of them: 100 percent.

      – From a UAAP community member

      Re: “Winners train the losers to complain. So stop and deal with it.” – Yup, UP Pep is training for Berlin in November. #winners


  3. King says:

    Yeah its true! The routine of UST is highly recognizable. But if you will see the whole performance of UST was full of execution of dance only. Less stunts, pyramids and transitions. I understand you and some of your community members who has the same thought, but you need to understand aswell that in cheerleading competition today, the progress is consistently growing and that’s what NU is trying to show to give you better performance. Compare to the countable flaws of NU in 1 hand, you will never give them deductions that may affect the whole routine that can cause losing the title. Hindi porke’t nalaglagan ka eh major deduction na agad at ipapanalo mo yung malinis na hindi naman nagconsist ng high level stunts. Edi sana ganun nalang din stunts na ginawa ng NU, more on execution at less hazardly routines na wala ng thrill. At part naman talaga ng cheerleading yun masaktan ka when u fall. I think binigay lang nila yun laban na maganda.

    Take note: You’re from the UP community pala kaya pala ganyan ka nalang magbigay ng comments. Peace!


    • Jason says:

      Again, UP showed difficult stunts with a 100-percent success rate. And I disagree with your implied idea that cheerleading should be hazardous – coaches are supposed to keep their cheerleaders safe. 🙂

      Yes, I’m proud to be from UP, but I’d like to think I made valid points so far in our discussion. Pero sige, in the interest of unbiased opinion, here’s a post by Coach Ruf on who he thinks the winner should have been. Like you, he has ties to both NCC and NCCA. And he’s well-versed in cheerleading criteria. 🙂

      Peace be with you as well.


    • Kevin says:

      ok woah, stop generalizing. I have a UP degree, yet I have no issues with NU winning. What I don’t agree is with UP placing third.

      Sure I had my teary moments (when UP naming mahal was playing, matagal-tagal ko na rin hindi nakakanta yun) but after watching their routine I thought – this isn’t enough 😦

      Transitions were slow compared to NU, quality of tosses was not enough to beat NU, dance and spacings were so-so, shall we talk about tumblings? However, I do admire their improvements on partner stunts and pyramids. I believe they’re on the right track.

      Utak Puso routine was great in impressing UP pep fans, but not enough to impress the judges.

      I wish they do our country proud in Berlin!


      • Jason says:

        What did I generalize? Nothing in my comment/s stated or even implied that everyone from UP agrees with my opinion.

        CDC Critiko’s comment below details how the difficulty of each squad’s routine compare to one another.


  4. CDC Critiko says:

    We actually have the same perspectives about the UAAP CDC 2015. As diplomatic students we are, I also refuse to label the competition as a cooking show, wherein judges were bribed in exchange for NU’s victory. I believe in the credibility of this international standard-based judges.

    What remains questionable here is the judging process. We all know that there are 4 DANCE judges, 1 TUMBLING judge, 1 PYRAMID judge, 1 STUNT judge, and 1 TOSS judge. However, it seems that having only one judge per category in the cheer component is very alarming. This gives a one-sided criticism of the stunt, toss, pyramid or tumbling. Statistically speaking, how would the data (in this case, the scores in each cheer component) become valid and widely acceptable if they were only taken from a single sample (in this case, the judge of each component)? I hope everyone here is opening their eyes to this statistical yet invalid possibility. My original ranking is UP > UST>NU. How? Let us examine and give a constructive criticism of the routines of each team one by one. Keep in mind that I won’t be able to give criticism to dance because I do not know how to judge this component yet. In evaluating stunts, you have to look if it is assisted, one-man or unassisted, the transition and difficulty of mounting and dismounting. If a stunt is mounted on a lifter directly in a fully extended arm (full extension), that is really difficult you know. It is hard to lift someone with your arms extended right away without the prep level. The prep level is the stage when you bend your arms before you fully extend it. In pyramids, the number of bases matter. More bases means more support = Not actually difficult. Having only one base with one or two people above you is intensely difficult. The transition, duration, difficulty of mounting and dismounting are also factors. For tumbling, the duration is very important. The difficulty relies on the twists after the final jump. Some could actually execute double full twists while some could only do single full twists. The running and standing tumbling is also judged. Finally, the tosses are judged in terms of quantity, variability. Some of the most difficult stunts are the double full twists and x-out followed by a single twist.

    1. NU Pep Squad.
    Undoubtedly, this squad never fails to show us their jaw-dropping and difficult stunts, pyramids, tosses and tumbling (SPTT). For me, this squad, still has the most difficult routine among all the performers. The mounts, dismounts and transitions for the stunts and pyramids are very difficult in nature. When they execute a stunt, you will always think that they are already done but no, they will still do something in the next few seconds and surprise you for the actual stunt. What is also commendable is the stability of their flyers. They always look stable despite the difficult stunts and pyramids. Their tosses and tumbling look amazingly beautiful and difficult because of those twists in mid-air. However, the squad failed to deliver the cleanliness and flawlessness of these difficult SPTT. There is no point in having a high degree of difficulty if you cannot execute them properly. Another thing I noticed is that they also keep on using the same pyramids they did in the previous years. One example is their opening 1-1-1 which rewinds the top flyer from a tumbling to an inverted split position. Note that they have did this last year and this was given a special award. Another reused pyramid is that 1-1-1 again wherein the flyers are tossed and air splits before landing on the arms of the midbase. Yes, the innovation and reuse of old stunts and pyramids are not judged here. But for me, the effect of this pyramid easily wears off when it is recycled over and over again. I would also like to question their score on penalties and deductions. I still cannot comprehend how they were able to only have a 6-point deduction in spite of the messy performance. Their incredible skills still make them a candidate in the top 3.

    Most difficult pyramid: 2-2-5. Mounting: The two sets of 1-1-1 were difficultly mounted from first level then side rewind to shoulder sit. Middle top girl mounted from first level to hand stand. The two remaining flyers were tossed on sides. Transition: The last two flyers do an arabesque then the middle flyer bends legs forwards. Dismount: The shoulder seated flyers back tuck. Out of the four major pyramids they have prepared, this was one out of the two properly executed pyramids, the other successful pyramids are done at the start of the performance where they rewind the three flyers from a tumbling series to an inverted split 1-1-1 pyramid.

    Most difficult tumbling: (4:27-4:33) The guy in the middle: 5 seconds tumbling+single twist after first high jump+front tumbling+double twist after final jump. Other tumbling series include several of them doing a half to full twist.

    Most difficult toss: (5:05-5:10) 5 kick out followed by a double twist.

    Most difficult stunt: (3:18-3:36) 6 sets of assisted Mounting: Back walk to full extension. Transition: Hand stand mount flip to back then heel stretch-needle-liberty. Dismount: toss backwards with added twist. Other difficult stunt is the 10 full extension. More than half are unassisted.

    2. UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe.
    Welcome back UST. This squad was highly commended by everyone because of the cleanliness of the performance. The tosses and tumbling are second to NU because they show a lot of skills in midair. Those double twists NU, relatively had an edge on them in this component in terms of difficulty and execution. What is interesting to see here is that despite having a very flawless routine, it is not totally a difficult one. I wonder if they are playing safe or what but in comparison to NU and UP’s performance. Remember when UP performed the Equality routine, it is not actually a difficult one (not to mention the difficulty of women lifting men) but they managed to make a 1st place finish that year.

    Most difficult pyramid: (2:23-2:33) 4-4-3. Mounting: 1-1-1 at both sides are mounted from the second level already, making it not totally difficult. The mounting at A-frame in the middle is a little messy though it was mounted from the first level. Transition: none. Dismount: Top flyers front tuck dismount.

    Most difficult tumbling: (3:56-4:02) The guy in the middle: 5 seconds tumbling + double twist after final jump. Other series include THREE of them doing a full twist.

    Most difficult toss: (2:00-2:04) 4 X-Out Toss followed by a single (or double twist) – correct me if I’m wrong. And (1:50-1:54) 4 Double Full Twist Toss

    Most difficult stunt: (4:51-4:) 5 sets of assisted Mounting: Back tumbling, then lying position to hand stand mount. Transition: flip to back then heel stretch. Dismount. Front tuck.

    3. UP Pep Squad
    Overall, the UP Pep Squad displayed difficult stunts and a relatively clean performance. The mounts, pyramids and stunts are what should you watch out for this squad. Unbelievably, the series of breath-taking stunts and pyramids also use innovated mounts and dismounts. Other than that, the tosses are somewhat repetitive and not high in variability. The tumbling is very synchronized among others. UP Pep Squad performed a perfect blend of difficulty and cleanliness + impact.

    Most difficult pyramid: (3:00-) 3-3-6. Mounting: Starts with a 1-1-1 shoulder sit from a first level front tuck mount then front tuck dismount. Another set of 1-1-1 shoulder sit from an inverted position to a cartwheel mount. Transition: A middle base appears at the center and carried two top fliers. The 1-1-1 at the sides accept one flyer who perform a heel stretch each resulting to three sets of 1-1-2. Dismount: The shoulder seated pyramids front tuck dismount. Another pyramid formed by difficult mount is in 1:37-1:40. The top flyer in the middle is rewind PLUS FULL TWIST mounted from first to third level. This is the most difficult mounting seen on the entire UAAP CDC history. The dismount is also a front tuck with a full twist. This is a mount done in international competitions. The duration of the 2-1-1 in (5:13-5:38) mounted from a swing toss to the “Dawn Zulueta” or dirty dancing stunt is also remarkable. The added difficulty here is they both flip in a dead man position at the top!

    Most difficult tumbling: (2:11-2:15) 4 seconds tumbling + 5 full twists after final jump.

    Most difficult toss: (1:15-1:19) 1 Double Full Twist Toss and 2 X Out Toss followed by a single twist. I have been noticing that since 2013, the quantity of UP’s tosses are not high. They usually do 3-4 in a given time. NU, on the other hand, always go for at least 5 with double full twists as their primary toss.

    Most difficult stunt: (4:51-5:07) 5 sets of assisted Mounting: Front walk, to hand stand (pop)-inverted split-handstand mount. Transition: side flip full extension and Y-scale position. Dismount. Front tuck WHILE in Y-scale position. Other difficult stunts include the 9 one man rewind, 2 of which are unassisted. The double cupie FULL EXTENSION mount (no prep level) is also a difficult one. Another is the 6 sets of FULL EXTENSION WITH ONE AND A HALF TWIST.

    Please remember that the “most difficult stuff” I mentioned per team is solely dependent on my judgment.

    Now, let us synthesize the technicalities I have presented. For the best pyramid, the 3-3-6 of UP remains the most difficult. Plus points for the most difficult mount in other pyramids as well. UST’s pyramid only includes several bases with less flyers. NU’s flaws in other pyramids should have affected the overall delivery of the pyramids. For best stunts, UP and NU are almost similar in difficulty so the score should depend on the execution itself. For best tumbling, NU undeniably wins this component. For the best toss, UST and NU could be at par, only that the quantity that NU executes per time outweighs UST’s tosses.

    I kinda believe that the order of performance knocks out the senses of the judges here. If UP performs last, then their difficulty and flawlessness should outweigh the performance of NU and UST. I saw a lot of posts who strongly believe that the order of performance theory still works. Just go check on them guys. If I were to rank them in flawlessness, it should be UST>UP>>>NU. If I were to rank them in difficulty, it should be UP~NU>>>UST. Remember? In 2014, NU’s performance is undeniably the best in terms of difficulty supported by a relatively flawless performance. UP and UST’s performance at that time were not difficult but their clean performance gave them a podium finish. Thus, it is more interesting to compare it with 2013 CDC. UP’s performance is intensely difficult that year but were marred by many errors causing them to land 1st place behind the champion NU whose performance is relatively cleaner and difficult. Given the 2013 scenario, UP2013=NU2015 (Both are difficult and had many errors), UP2015=NU2013 (Both are difficult and flawless). How come this year’s difficult and clean performance of UP only gave them a 2nd-runner up finish? While the UAAP judging process standard is not renewed, it also remains questionable why the scores of UP Pep Squad in 2014 also decreased this 2015 despite delivering a heavier and more difficult routine? This leads us to question the judging process, as I have mentioned earlier. I’m typing all of this because I still can’t move on from the competition because I JUST CANNOT TOLERATE A FLAWED JUDGING PROCESS. No one is judging the team as a whole resulting to an INDIVIDUALISTIC criticizing process. Since this is a group performance, the totality should be observed in a bird’s-eye-view. Agree? And it actually fears me that no one is doing that. Moreover, it also fears me that this will happen annually. I hope somebody out there would call for a 1) STATISTICALLY SOUND; 2) EQUITABLE and 3) UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTABLE judging process. I hope the UAAP CDC committee will be able to see this loophole. Hay.

    Sorry for the grammatical errors, if there are any. #UPuso #GoUSTe


    • CDC Critiko says:

      For the minutes and seconds I have mentioned, please refer to the videos of ABSCBN Sports and Action channel in Youtube. I rest my case. Open your hearts and minds, earthlings.


      • CDC Critiko says:

        Thanks. Haha. Actually! I love that post. Every competition should be objective in nature. I now conclude that the criteria seems to be a little subjective for the lack of a clear and universal definition. The breakdown must be shown to everyone as well for transparency so that we will know if the corresponding points clearly justify the performance of each team. 🙂 I hope you would give more reviews to CDC 2015. 🙂


      • Torio says:

        Hey Jason,thanks for linking my comment. I actually wrote that analysis more than a year ago and I think I failed to mention, that despite my analysis, I actually agree with the 2015 CDC rankings.

        Honestly, the 2015 rankings were just right for me, assuming na walang illegal na ginawa ang NU. Even if you raise NU’s deductions to 16 points (which I think is a realistic penalty), hindi na sila mahahabol ng UST. And even if UST’s Pyramid, Stunts and Tumblings scores were reduced, I don’t think mahahabol pa din sila ng UP. Waley ang scores ng UP sa Dance, Tumblings and Tosses kasi.

        But regarding the prone dismount that Lala is protesting, I really don’t know.

        P.S. I hope you also post analysis with NU’s 2016 performance.


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