Juan Paolo Lorenzo Escano, a sports science senior; John Michael Fitzgerald Domingo, an architecture junior; Maria Bettina Pe, a physical therapy freshman; Rene Ignacio III, a fine arts freshman and Ryan Ramos, pre-school education freshman, were among the crew members of the A-Team.

The win marked the first time that the Philippines emerged as champion in the World Hip Hop International mega crew division. The country had brought home titles in the adult crew division when The Crew won in 2012, Armistice in 2011, and the Philippine All Stars in 2009, 2008 and 2006. C.I.D.G was also victorious in the varsity crew division in 2007.

Hip Hop International, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 2002 and is the producer of several live and televised street dance competitions such as MTV’s Randy Jackson presents America’s Best Dance Crew, the World Hip Hop Dance Championship, the World Battles and Urban Moves Dance Workshops.

The A-Team went up against 280 dance crews from more than 40 countries and bested ID CO from New Zealand and Flyographers Dance Team from Russia which bagged silver and bronze, respectively.

Gaining the title of Varsity and Mega Crew Divisions of the World Hip Hop International Philippines-National Champion last May paved the way for A-Team’s participation in the 2014 World Hip Hop International.

The A-team first competed during the Slimmers’ World Step-Up Philippines last October 2011 where they placed second. They went on to win numerous dance competitions abroad such as placing 2nd in the World Supremacy Battlegrounds Varsity Division in Sydney, Australia in December 2012 and then later on earning the championship title in the same competition in December last year.

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The A-Team was founded by Angelica and Michael Jordan Arda, two of the country’s most sought after coaches in the Philippine Hip Hop community.

To perform on the world stage, the group had to raise funds through concerts and mall tours. It also got support from SM supermalls and other sponsors.

“Every time we have mall tours and concerts, we have a donation box that we pass around so we could collect some amount to help us with our expenses,” Pe said.

A-Team, along with another Filipino group, Romancon Dance Company from the College of Saint Benilde, anchored the banner of the Philippines in the world dancing arena.

Trading sweat for success

The road to victory wasn’t easy. 

Ignacio sacrificed his time for his family because of his commitment with the A-Team while Escano, being then an incoming graduating student, had a hard time completing his internship hours while training.

“I had a very early shift during my internship so it was hard to keep up when my I get home at already 12 midnight from training,” Escano said.

On top of everything, two of the members of their crew were denied of a US visa, which forced their coach to make some changes.

“They were one of the strongest dancers in the team so our coach had to reblock,” Ramos said.

“There were parts that were choreographed only for them that is why it became a struggle on our part but we viewed the situation as a motivation.”

The members set aside their studies first in order to give way to the competition so that their efforts would not be put in vain.

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“We prioritized the A-Team first because we worked hard for it and it was expensive to fly in Las Vegas.” Ignacio said.

It was more challenging for Pe to catch up with her studies when she came back from the competition.

“When I got back, it was already the period of my exams and I had no notes at that time, but my friends helped me to cope up so I think I can still make the quota,” she said.

Amid all the pains and struggles the 30-manned crew encountered throughout the whole experience, they did not forget to seek the guidance of their greatest member, the Lord.

“I think our greatest asset is our hold with the Lord,” Pe said. “Even during our trainings, our coaches inspire us to do well through the prayers we offer to Him.”

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