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Filipino world dance champion HQ eyes more gold for the country

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Filipino world dance champion HQ eyes more gold for the country
Filipino dance group HQ led by Jacob Jaurigue
Jacob Jaurigue

MANILA, Philippines — The year 2023 was a stellar one for the Philippines at the annual World Hip Hop Dance Championship as three different Filipino groups took home medals.

Dance group HQ became the first Filipino crew to finish as champions of the competition's Adult category in over a decade, while Legit Status and the UP Streetdance Club won gold and bronze, respectively, in the Megacrew division.

It was Legit Status' first gold medal after two previous bronzes, finishes that the UP Streetdance Club garnered in 2012 and 2013.

The three groups cemented the Philippines as one of the best competing countries as its total medal tally at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship went up to 22, a legacy contributed by the likes of Philippine All-Stars, A-Team, UPeepz, The Crew and The Alliance.

Because of the gold medal finishes, both HQ and Legit Status are assured of a semi-finals slot at this year's World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Arizona, United States in August.

This did not stop HQ, led by coach and co-director Jacob Jaurigue, to take another leap in a different category at this year's local competition hosted by Hip Hop International (HHI) Philippines.

HQ entered the Minicrew division with three members — Zion Wuxinyi, Diego Aviles and Jed Ardiente — and went on to finish as champions yet again, opening up a chance for the group to compete in two categories this August.

In an exclusive interview with Philstar.com, Jaurigue discussed HQ's recent success and the group's plans going forward.

It is only been a week since HQ became champions again, and for Jaurigue, it is an overwhelming feeling that never sinks in, even winning the international crown last year.

Related: Choreographer says 'quick learners' Bini help with dance choreographies

Jaurigue said this year's win in the Minicrew division was less nervewracking than winning in the Adult division last year because previous champions also competed in the latter.

"[That] made it challenging for us but what also lessened the nerves this year was our experience from last year's competition,"  Jaurigue continued. "We came in this year more confident in what we do and more composed as well. Experience is, indeed, the best teacher!"

While an Adults semi-final spot awaits in the United States — and potentially a preliminary Minicrew spot — Jaurigue is not entirely sure yet if HQ will indeed make the flight to Arizona.

The main reason is the financial situation and the need for the members to temporarily leave their work.

"The willingness to compete and defend our title is definitely there and we are really on fire but it's always a difficult task to bring 10 people to the United States," Jaurigue explained to Philstar.com.

The worst case scenario is if HQ does not fly out to defend their Adult title. If this would be the case, Jaurigue will likely accompany Wuxinyi, Aviles and Ardiente (or whoever HQ fields) to compete in the Minicrew division alone.

Regardless of which team competes, Jaurigue waved off the pressure that HQ and any other Philippine teams face to match or exceed the success of past Filipino groups.

"With the amount of talent that we have here in the Philippines, I would not be surprised if we're able to achieve the same feat or even top it with how crazy the Philippine delegation is this year," Jaurigue said.

On HQ's part, "We don't ever think that there's pressure in what we do honestly. We enjoy the journey and the process the same way we enjoy the result so we always just aim to have an amazing time while aiming to win as well."

Related: Filipina women learning to 'feel sexy' through dance

Jaurigue went back to praising the Filipino dance groups that competed last April 7 in Manila Metropolitan Theater, speaking not as a competitor or coach, but as a member of the audience.

"I felt like a little kid in Disneyland with all of the great performances in this year's HHI Philippines," said Jaurigue, noting that five previous world champions competed in different divisions. "A lot of old faces coming back and how it was on paper when we all saw the initial lineup, did not disappoint at all."

He continued, "It's crazy how teams at the top of the game still find a way to best their past selves. It's just a treat when you combine that and a bunch of newcomers all competing in a big local event and even seeing some new names come out on top."

Joining HQ as medalists in the Minicrew division were Warlock and Hype It Up, while the JV Megacrew category saw the Sayawatha Dance Troupe triumph over A-Kidz and VPeepz, the varsity teams of A-Team and UPeepz.

A-Kidz did win gold in the Junior division while Sayawatha took home bronze, sandwiching Young TG, which the Miriam-based group also won in the Junior category topped by Lil Peepz (another division of UPeepz) and TG Kids.

With HQ not competing, UPeepz's Adult team, The Peepz, won gold with SQ1 and Astrophile getting podium finishes. A-Team and UPeepz settled for bronze and silver, respectively, as Fresno Style PH became the Philippine Megacrew champion.

"The dance scene here in the Philippines is really something that everyone should be able to witness. It felt like the world championships was held here in the Philippines last weekend!" Jaurigue exclaimed.

The 2024 World Hip Hop Dance Championship is just four months away, so what Jaurigue and HQ are focusing on now is doing everything to take part in it.

"Train hard, raise funds, and train hard again. We're yet to find out if we'll even be there but when we do get there we're definitely going for the gold once again," Jaurigue said. 

He is not sure what lies in HQ's future after the competition, but Jaurigue is confident that wherever the group goes glory will be in sight.

"We might take HQ to the next level, we might stay hungry and keep competing, or we might just ride off into the sunset and retire. We'll know it when we get there but for now our focus is getting another gold for our country," Jaurigue ended.

RELATED: Lisa Macuja unveils Ballet Manila's 2024 offerings; honors late dance partner Osias Barroso Jr.

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