Behind the Babbleby Cheryl C. Ong and Iya P. Joson
ROME WAS not built in a day. Those low, striking cries we hear echoing from various points in the campus, that heart-thumping bass confidently pounding in the hallowed dome of the Araneta Coliseum, and those glorious cheers of the Ateneo we yell out with pride, were not cre- ated with one swift beat of the drum.
The exact year the Ate- neo’s cheers were written and the people behind them still remain a mystery, but current captain of the Ateneo Blue Babble Batallion, Mat- thew Quiros, explains that the cheers have been influ- enced by the glorious Roman civilization.“The logic behind this was, Ateneans thought them- selves to be a great breed of people. They wanted to pattern their cheers after a great civilization, the people of Rome,” Matthew says.
The Romans always welcomed their homecoming heroes with celebrations, accompanied by often incomprehensible cheers. The ovation, despite lacking sense, remained one-of-a- kind, and the hero never failed to recognize his people’s call.
Contrary to popular belief, the cheers them- selves have no underlying meaning. Crowd favorites, like Fabilioh and Halikinu, are neither Greek nor Latin.
Drew Nadal, a sophomore Babble member, says, “[Fabilioh and Halikinu] have no meaning to them. It’s just random babble. It has a psychological effect, when a whole stadium of Ateneans is shouting ‘Oh! Fabilioh!’ over and over again. So the opponents of the Ateneo team, natatakot sila (get scared).”
The people who com- prise the Ateneo crowd may have changed over the decades, but the same old cheers reverberate throughout the games. This is not because the Blue Babble Batallion has ne- glected the idea of coming up with cheers, but rather, the classics have made such an indelible mark in history that replacing them would not do them justice.
Apart from that, it is but difficult to both create and learn a new cheer be- cause of its marketability to the crowd, its impact in the games, and the time to disseminate this certain in- formation to the multitude, among others. According to Sev Sar- menta, an ex-Blue Babble Batallion captain, “We’re cheering these [the old cheers] because we don’t have time to study new ones even if we go to PE and teach them. It’s hard.”
“The nice thing about the old cheers is that when we watch, the whole commu- nity, nasa isang buong side tayo ng Araneta. ‘Pagsigaw ng Blue Eagle Spelling, ev- erybody knows that (we’re on one side of the Araneta. When someone shouts Blue Eagle Spelling, everybody knows that),” he says. Because of certain com- plications, what the Blue Babble has been doing instead is experimenting with the current cheers and making a few alterations on the routines that accom- pany these, as well as how they’re being chanted.
In the end, it is not exactly about how many attempts have been made to bring in new cheers, but about integrating some- thing new while continuing to live a tradition.