SportsAiana Lontok : One-Armed Superwoman
Aiana Lontok : One-Armed Superwoman

Photo by Suzanne de Asis

Photo by Suzanne de Asis

The saying goes “it takes two to tango,” but for DLSU Animo Squad’s flyer Aiana Lontok a good arm is enough to cartwheel, dance, spot, catch, fly and finish the rest of the routine.

In the starting minutes of the Coach Rhufa Rosario-mentored squad’s hat-trick performance, one of its flyers, Lontok, dislocated her right elbow during execution of the jumps for the second front walk.

For a moment, she was lost, but she found the strength to comeback to continue the show.

“The squad made me continue, I know that all of us shed blood, sweat and tears in preparing and training for this competition, and I don’t want all of it to be wasted,” Lontok remarked.

No effort was wasted, and all the hard work of the Green-and-White energetic bunch paid off. The DLSU Animo Squad mounted a UAAP Season 74 Samsung Cheer Dance Competition (CDC) 1st runner-up victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last September 17.

Getting to know her

One of the few, the chosen, the loud and the proud members of the DLSU Animo Squad, Aiana Nina Ruth Lontok is a third year BS in Advertising Management major.

This Animo Squad dancer-flyer started dancing at a young age, and carried her finesse and flair up to high school and college year.

She joined the high school dance troupe at St. Paul College Pasig, where she became the cheer captain. Eventually, following her sister’s footsteps, the 20-year old travel aficionado suited up for the Taft-based pep squad.

Contrary to the common stereotype of cheer dancers, Aiana is a quiet person.

“I am a not a very friendly girl but I’m very nice. People just find me “mataray” because I don’t talk to strangers… but when I get to know a person and became my friend, I will be comfortable and be as talkative as I can be,” Aiana affirms.

CDC back-stage moments

Before the Animo Squad’s curtain call, Aiana and her team were in anxious and excited at the backstage.

The rules of the competition were flashed, and the last thing Aiana read was the imperative, which states that if a member of a squad incurs an accident in the middle of the routine, deductions will be, sued to his/her team and the squad will be given the chance to perform once again.

“I don’t know if this [reading the tournament rule] was a sign but I just realized now that if I left the floor and did not finish the routine, the squad will perform again without me and there is a greater possibility that the Animo Squad would not win,” she shared.

First runner-up high

Aiana holding her elbow during the cheerdance routine. Photo by Kristine Barreiro

Aiana holding her elbow during the cheerdance routine. Photo by Kristine Barreiro

After her heroics, Aiana was given first aid, and sent immediately to the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center for her arm cast.

All the care and concern of her family and friends came to her as a surprise. “It was the very first time that I saw my family crying at the same time when they saw me being carried to the ambulance. Even when they knew we won, they were still crying,” Aiana said.

The reunion with the Animo Squad was another tearjerker moment. Aiana was in more tears of joy as she saw the trophy and her medal, the fulfillment of her goals as a cheer dancer.

Barging in the CDC top three elite was a surprise feat from last year’s fifth placers for UAAP fanatics, and cheer dance enthusiast as even Aiana only predicted a third place finish beforehand.

Aiana attributed the bridesmaids honor to the clean and well timed executions of their stunts and lifting. The costume and props also complimented the warrior-inspired theme and the team’s desire to outshine their premier 4th finish way back in 2005.

However, critics keep on doubting the silver shocker of the Green-and-White squad, which came with a P200, 000 accolade. “It can’t be ‘luto’ because in fact the pep fund is just too small to pay people to make us win. I ignore those things that others say because I have faith that we deserved to win second,” Aiana defended.

Aiana humbly admitted that reigning champions UP Pep Squad earned the CDC crown back this year. “Honestly, after I watched the routines of the other schools in YouTube, second place was right for us because UP Pep squad deserves it, since they really had a great routine,” Aiana said.

All back to normal?

This Animo Squad dancer-flyer found her first day back in school strange. She experienced atypical attention from fellow Lasallians. Aiana was also an online fad from social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

Another change that Aiana is facing is her right arm cast. Again, the team is up for the challenge; it will be one more team effort.

If for theater performers, its figuratively good luck to break a leg; for the Animo Squad and Aiana maybe it’s to break an elbow, both figuratively and literally.