- October 10, 2020 12:21
By Aimerose C. Atienza and Adrian Earl E. Taruc
Behind the glorious victories of the Far Eastern University Cheering Squad (FEUCS) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Cheerdance Competition (CDC) are the elements of sensational choreographies and routines that is paired with unique concepts and striking costumes crafted by the rock-solid joint effort of Kelvin Dhel “KD” Ocampo and FEUCS Head Coach Randell San Gregorio.
In the midst of the pandemic, Ocampo looked back on the whole creative process of some of the costume masterpieces he did with San Gregorio that brought pride and loud cheers from the whole FEU community during lopthe last four seasons of the UAAP CDC.
It takes time to prepare for cheerdance competitions, especially where they are competing against eight other universities. For San Gregorio, his ideas could actually come years ahead of the actual cheerdance event of the collegiate league.
“Ako sa cheering squad, hindi pa nangyayari ‘yung competition for the year, mayroon na ako [ideas] for the next year or for the next two years (Personally in the cheering squad, the competition for the year has not even happened yet, but I already have [ideas] for the next year or for the next two years,” he shared during an online interview with FEU Advocate.
Ocampo and San Gregorio started working together in 2015 and since then, they continue to coordinate and integrate their ideas for the green-and-gold pep squad.
The costumes usually come from a hand draft design crafted by San Gregorio that would undergo approval from FEU’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs Gianna R. Montinola. Once approved, Ocampo will finalize a computerized costume design and do test fits with the athletes.
“Constant communication, hindi lang through meetings… minsan text or chat lalo na kung may inputs na mabilisan (not only through meetings… sometimes, through text or chat, especially if there are sudden inputs),” Ocampo said.
Challenges are still unavoidable for the Ocampo-San Gregorio tandem. They both agreed that the hardest part in designing costumes will always be coming up with the final decision.
“Ang laging question na dapat masagot, ‘Feasible ba siya?’ (The question that should always be answered is ‘Is it feasible?’),” KD stated.
There were also times when the team had to eliminate some accessories that pose potential hindrances to the stunts and routines and can possibly cause of injuries. In the 2019 cheerdance competition, the team removed the shoulder pads that should have been worn during their Michael Jackson-themed performance which won them the silver medal.
However, their struggles do not stop there as they also face criticisms once the public gets to see the FEUCS costumes during the annual UAAP CDC.
San Gregorio recalled how the Morayta-based pep squad received negative comments and were labelled as “waiters” after executing a Broadway-inspired act during UAAP Season 79 in 2016.
“It’s not about me, actually. It’s for the kids or the athletes who performed… Kasi (Because) for me, the art is there, but it is still based on our own interpretation and taste,” Ocampo added.
San Gregorio also implied that he would always remind his team not to comment and simply respect any opinion that they would receive from the public.
The green and gold imprint
A symbol of hope and golden opportunity to serve is what these colors stand for FEU.
From the circus theme during San Gregorio’s first stint as Head Coach in 2015 to the alluring Michael Jackson-inspired theme last 2019, their concepts and costumes have distinctly translated as a reminder of the institution’s roots, incorporating the brand of green and gold.
“That is what I think is distinct with our costumes, we go to our brand colors,” Ocampo said.
Attempting to keep a distance with their competitors while in a field of tenacity, the FEUCS ought to never forget looking back to the reason why they fight; they adamantly acknowledged the driving force in the brawl they set sights on and all of those engraved in what they wore encompassed the green and gold, a subtle representation of what makes up a Tamaraw — creative, bold, and brave.
Years have passed by, this journey has traversed with the Ocampo-San Gregorio tandem leading to the aftermath that conquers the clouds. reaching for triumph and more success on their way.
(Photo courtesy of Kelvin Dhel Ocampo)