IT didn’t take long for Ghicka Bernabe to achieve something that was denied her in college.
The 25-year-old Bernabe steered the National University Cheer Squadron to a breakthrough championship in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition on Sunday, in the process foiling three-time winner University of the Philippines' bid to become the most successful team in the 19-year history of the event.
For Bernabe, the victory was the culmination of a long-cherished dream she nurtured as a cheerdancer with Far Eastern University during her college years - with a surprise twist in the end.
“Dati sobrang gusto ko ma-experience mag-champion kasi four years ako na hindi nag-champion," she narrated to Spin.ph in the din of NU’s celebration at the Mall of Asia Arena.
As part of the FEU Cheerdance Squad from 2005 to 2009, Bernabe said she didn’t get to celebrate the way she did on this special day.
She has all the reasons to be happy and proud.
In just two years with NU, Bernabe readily turned the fortune of the cheerleaders in blue and gold, guiding them to their very first podium finish last year when they placed third, and now to a maiden championship that made the school only the fourth team to win the title after University of Santo Tomas, UP, and FEU.
“Dito (sa NU) ko pala ma-e-experince ang mag-champion," she said.
A Legal Management major at FEU, Bernabe never imagined that fate would bring her from Morayta to Gastambide and hand her the daunting task of molding a champion team out of the NU Cheer Squadron.
But she believes God has a plan for everything, including her becoming a cheerdance coach despite graduating with a background in both law and management.
"Hindi ko naman plinano ito na mag-coach. Ang naisip ko pa nga corporate ako or sa law school. Siguro dinala na ako ni Lord dito para i-mold pa 'yung ibang bata sa dreams nila," she said.
In the end, Bernabe has mixed emotions over the success of her current team and the sad fate of her alma mater which fell short of a podium finish for the first time in its history.
"Malungkot kasi 'di nakapasok ng top three (ang FEU), pero na o-over power ako ng saya para sa NU," said a teary-eyed Bernabe.