Pep to armpits! Go girls, go!
What do you get when you put 4 hardcore, hard-court cheerdancers from rival schools in one room? Girl chika of course! Check out what Marina San Gabriel (Ateneo De Manila University), Carla Piscoso (University of Santo Tomas), Nicolette Ambulo (University of the Philippines) and Maja Reyes (De La Salle University) have to say about college life, boys, being a cheerdancer and everything in between the arms! Gasp!
Not all dancers were trained. Some were born with the passion to keep moving with the paved ground under their feet. Having started with dance at 7 years, 12 years, and even as late as in high school, it’s apparent that being a competitive cheerleader these days have little to do whether they took up gymnastics or ballet, and have more to do with the desire to just keep moving at any age. “Kahit walang formal training,” Nicolette, a gorgeous, gamine dancer from UP, laughs.
It all started in their first year of college when the girls decided to join their respective school’s squad. Coming from their high school pep squads and dance groups, it seemed like a natural step for them. With the excitement, apprehension, and fear one might expect from a young woman’s first step into adulthood, there were, of course, challenges. From issues like learning to trust their new lifters, to balancing studies and working on technical skills to be a better cheerdancer, the girls agree that every year brings new challenges, including this next school year.
Asked whether the cheerdance rivalry gets as much attention as other sports like basketball, they share, “It’s less intense. Just friendly competition.” Some even go as far to say they’re good friends with other girls in other teams. The competition doesn’t just stay in the 3-minute routines. Last year, DLSU’s wide-eyed, mestiza looker, Maja, and UP’s Nicolette were both in the running for “Cheerdance Stunner” with Nicolette taking home the prize—and rocking a shaved head to boot! But more than the hype and fanfare, ADMU’s Marina— a petite girl with lips as lush as Angie’s— puts it best: “It’s really more of a competition with ourselves and trying to be better all the time.”
It’s not easy
“A lot of people think it’s easy or paganda lang. They think of the perks and the free stuff from sponsors. And it’s not (easy). Even getting sponsors is tough”, Carla, a bronzed brunette stunner from UST, shares. While most people think cheerleaders get glammed up for the cameras and dance like “it’s nothing”, when in fact, the daily training and grueling conditioning often times end past midnight. Add having to maintain a grade point average in the mix and you’ve got the exact requirements for your usual varsity. Maja is quick to remind us, “..cheerleaders are like athletes too.”
Training- class- training- class
Backed by a rigorous conditioning to rival that of other varsity sports teams, there is a constant need to improve and disciple oneself. So it’s no surprise that whenever the girls have free time, they study—during training, in between class, and any spare time they might have. “There’s not much room for anything else.”, they say. And for them, cheerleading is a full-time job. That’s why come summer, the girls are all too happy to have more time for themselves and their friends.
And no, cheerleaders aren’t dumb
“We actually study!”, the girls laugh. In fact, Marina and Carla are both in Pre-Med and are looking forward to 5 more years in Med School. And like all those before them, a look of annoyance crosses their face when the Hollywood cheerleader cliché is brought up. In fact, most of the girls’ are proud to mention that their teammates are Dean’s Listers and honor students, “It’s not about cheerdancing all the time, we value our studies too”.
The armpit ordeal
On the court and off the court, the girls can’t help but giggle about all the armpit exposure they’re getting. Although some universities have opted for a long-sleeved costumes for “a cleaner, sleeker look”, the girls share in their collective annoyance for armpits and more specifically, armpit hair. “I get asked to raise my arms all the time by friends”, one girl shakes her head in disbelief. Another, “Guys would tease me pa nga e: Ah you’re shy, you have black underarms siguro,” she laughs. But amidst the teasing and horsing around, this silent fetish keeps the girls on their toes—carrying razors for a last-minute shave en route to a competition even when they know they’ll probably get chicken skin and thicker hair.
Turning the taboo around
The 4 bubbly young ladies are the latest Facial Care Centre recruits, becoming the youngest endorsers to join the growing beauty family. Calling themselves, albeit jokingly, “Team LaserLight”, the girls have already started going through their own laser hair removal programs, which covers their underarms and legs.
The girls were all fun and cheers at their first ever photoshoot where they displayed their flexibility, skills and bright, wide smiles. Sporting their new Facial Care Centre green cheer uniforms, one girl can’t help but joke around, “I’m in shock. I’m still in shock!”.
Aside from the fun photoshoots and the great treatments, the girls are more excited about being able to reach out and become an instrument for such a taboo and personal issue. They also wish to bring the armpit taboo to rest by helping other young women their age cope with this silent problem that no one seems to talk about or is afraid to, by coming forward with their own fears and hopefully, open a discussion about it. For the least part, they came in this endeavor as strangers and left as friends.
And finally, in the middle of all the production fanfare, a battle cry was heard: “Are you ladies ready to become LaserLight ambassadors?!”. To which the girls cheer and shout, “Yes! Yes! YES!!”
And we totally raise our arms and cheers to that.
Meet the Facial Care Centre’s Team Laser Light