The International Cheer Union (ICU) declared the Southies Cheer Club as the first Filipino pep squad to score Gold in the history of the prestigious ICU World Cup in Seoul, South Korea.
Recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the ICU is comprised of 119 national federations with 10 million athletes across several continents. Its annual world championships consistently gather participants from over 70 nations to vie for the Hip Hop, Pom, and Cheerleading Divisions.
This year, the Southies Cheer Club emerged as the Top Winner of the CoEd Elite Cheerleading Category. Beast All Star Cheer and Gumi University, both from South Korea, landed Second and Third Places, respectively.
The Philippine delegation, which was only founded last summer, initially competed in the Open CoEd Elite Division of the National Cheerleading Championship. Despite a Silver finish, they were tapped by Cheer Pilipinas, the governing body of cheerleading in the Philippines, to represent the country in the ICU World Cup Seoul 2023.
The group held auditions wherein they meticulously handpicked former cheerleaders from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a source of top-caliber cheerleaders.
Assistant Coach Shawn Argel Delos Santos explained they had to compress their routine from the familiar 2 minutes and 30 seconds to the ICU guideline of 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
“We had to brainstorm to ensure that all the included skills would be enough to secure high points,” he added. “It was also a tough journey since most of us are already working. The only time we had for training was every weekend from June until the end of September.”
Delos Santos, a De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Consular and Diplomatic Affairs (CDA) alumnus, served as the captain of the Benilde Blazers Pep Squad during his academic years. He likewise recalled the challenges the crew encountered along the way. There was lack of government funding and absence of assistance. Each member had to shell out approximately P100,000 each.
“By God’s will, we were also able to raise funds through solicitation and pledges from friends, families, and private entities,” he expressed.
One player likewise suffered a knee injury a day before the competition, which required reserves to step in.
Despite the hurdles, the Southies Cheer Club pulled off an exemplary performance, earning top ratings for their partner stunts with handstands and synchronized tosses and neat kick doubles.
“We were able to lead the crowd during the cheer segment,” Delos Santos recalled. “The MA-BU-HAY chant echoed across the stadium.”
The squad comprised of fellow Benildeans Gerard Fueconcillo and Dina Mae Villamor, both from the School of Management and Information Technology (SMIT). Villamor was a former Blazers Pep Squad captain.
Completing the roster are Harly Dave Baldo, Julius Diaz, Mcleinad Divina, Arvin Jay Forto, Wilfredo Gacelos, Gerriel Getutua, Andy Gerusalem, Jalven Labradores, Gerson Labrillaso, Ronniel Madrideo, Rod Vincent Manalo, Laurence Ojales, John Joseph Regua, Marvin Rivera, Jeanelyn Briones, Christine Danica Cabaloza, Jenny Ann Calleja, Trexei Delos Santos, Shayenn Eira Dinglasan, and Dana Vivar.
Pola Raphaelle Cabidog, Hannah Alyssa Cortez, Matthew Orejas, and Rodney Santos were the reserves.
Joining Delos Santos in the coaching staff were Marnelli Calleja-Regua as the Head together with Seth Christopher Santos, Arczael Enriquez, and Kevin Chiel Copada.
The ICU World Cup Seoul 2023 likewise named UP Streetdance Club as the champion of the Hip Hop Category after gaining an advantage over the home country’s Myongji University and Team Korea.
DanSSA from the School of Saint Anthony, on the other hand, clinched a Silver in the Junior Hip-Hop. Meitouku High School Japan earned the Gold while Team Korea ended with a Bronze.
For the complete list of winners, visit https://cheerunion.org/.