AS NATIONAL University head coach Ghicka Bernabe forged a storybook ending to her famed career with the team, her peers looked back on her impact to the school's Pep Squad.
Ghicka Bernabe draws tributes
"Ghicka is the heart and soul of NU. So, not to take away anything from the other coaches, pero iba yung touch ni Ghicka," FEU Cheering Squad head coach Randell San Gregorio said after the UAAP cheerdance tilt on Saturday.
"All praises go to her. Kumbaga, pag tinanggal mo siya sa equation, di natin alam. I’m sure NU will still be great pero they’re greater or can be greatest with Ghicka," he continued.
Bernabe, who steered her team to seven UAAP CDC titles in a nine-season stretch, announced that she was stepping down due to personal reasons.
During that period, the FEU alumna elevated not only her team, but the rest of the field in a spectacle that is enjoyed by millions of Filipinos yearly.
After suffering a minor setback in a third-place finish last May, the team bounced back gracefully towards their rightful throne through a "cheerobics"-inspired routine, garnering a total of 723 points.
One of her wards described her with fondness as she looked back on her mentor's impact in and out of the stage.
"Si Coach Ghicka kasi yung coach na hindi lang coach ng team. Life coach din po siya ng bawat member ng team, so may mga times na two hours yung training, tapos two hours sermon lang niya," recalled skipper Daniela Jane Silos.
"Kahit aalis man kami sa team, maaalala namin yung words ni Coach Ghicka na sinasabi lagi sa amin," she added, likening her pep talks to the President's State of the Nation Address.
"Technically, hindi lang siya coach namin as an athlete, pero naging life coach din namin po siya, naging adviser po namin siya."