2022 Philippine Elections

Viral UP Visayas cheer team returns with parody of presidential bets

Joey Baldonado
Viral UP Visayas cheer team returns with parody of presidential bets

Photo from UPV Skimmers Facebook Page

The UPV Skimmers’ performance has a clear message: blind fanaticism is not the solution to the country's problems

BACOLOD, Philippines – Despite facing backlash for their 2019 satirical cheer routine, the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Skimmers has returned with another parody – this time about this year’s presidential candidates.

True to the group’s tradition of sharp political commentary, the “Skimmers Bardagulan Race: A Cheering-Parody Special”, which premiered on the UPV Skimmers’ Facebook page on Friday, May 6, combined elements of the Presidential Forum and comedies like RuPaul’s Drag Race to introduce the platforms, ideals, and backgrounds of the five presidential bets.

UPV is home to an annual cheering competition that kicks off its campus-wide sportsfest. But while most cheer contests in the Philippines involve stunts and dancing, this one-of-a-kind tradition is an avenue for its students’ creative protests on issues inside and outside the school. The Skimmers, an organization composed of students from the Division of Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, are the reigning champions.

With the May 2022 national elections just around the corner and the “future of the Filipinos at stake”, Skimmers Governor Mary Paul Therese Agpalo said they believe it’s vital to publicly stand with the masses through their performance.

“More than ever, we want to move past winning the crown and instead focus on championing the calls of the masses,” Agpalo said. 

Skimmers cheering head and scriptwriter Jose Levy Biojan Jr. urged viewers to avoid idolizing candidates as they are “not perfect.”

“If they ever win, people should still learn to call them out if they do something wrong,” he said.

The message of the performance is clear: blind fanaticism is not the solution. 

“We want to tell people that their vote is not only for themselves, but also for their fellow Filipinos,” added Biojan.

Presidential parody

The routine featured main players Lenlen Robredoe, BlengBlong Narcos, Iskrrrt Morenonono, Money Pakyow, and Pingpong Lason, representing each of the five presidential bets. 

Through tongue-in-cheek dialogue, the group was able to poke fun at the mannerisms and public image of the presidential candidates while sending a valuable message to Filipinos.

The debate showcased the stances of the different politicians on controversial issues like the West Philippine Sea, the war on drugs, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked about their opinion on online disinformation, for example, the Leni Robredo character promptly told the public to keep their distance from anything fake, “kagaya ng diploma ng isa diyan. (Just like the diploma of a certain someone.) Senator Bongbong Marcos faced controversy after Oxford University staff revealed that he did not earn a Bachelor’s degree as previously claimed.

Manny Pacquiao and Isko Moreno were not spared from critique. 

When asked about his plans on the West Philippine Sea, the Pacquiao figure said he planned to just purchase the body of water to avoid any problems. 

To this, the Marcos character responded: “Para hindi na po tayo gagastos, nanakawin natin ang West Philippine Sea.” (We will steal the West Philippine Sea so that we don’t have to spend anything.)

Isko Moreno’s character took every opportunity to establish himself as part of the younger crowd by using slang and the “two joints” hand sign in his answers.

The supporters of each candidate (called “the chupporters”) were also given time to air out their own concerns. However, what was supposed to be a civil discussion immediately turned to below-the-belt insults.

“‘Di niyo ba naririnig ang mga sarili niyo? Parang mga panatikong galit. Ito na ba ang Pilipino — mga alipin sa politiko?” the host, Ms. Jessica Soju, cried out to the crowd.

(Can’t you hear yourselves? You’re like angry fanatics. Is this what Filipinos have become – slaves to politics?)

The UPV Skimmers faced harassment and red-tagging in 2019 after their cheer routine criticizing the Duterte administration went viral. A clip of their performance even gained 1.5 million views on Twitter.

The following year, the university put its annual competition on hold because of the pandemic. Until now, there has been no news on the possible return of intra-campus festivities. – Rappler.com

Joey Baldonado is a citizen journalist under Rappler’s civic engagement arm, MovePH. She is based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.