Numerous are the ways of looking at the legacy of the Upsilon Sigma Phi to Philippine politics. One could go right, left, or center — and the many shades and angles in between.
The most prominent, amazing and controversial politicians were the two mortal (and immortal) adversaries Ferdinand E. Marcos (’37) and Benigno Aquino Jr. (’50) — both brilliant but in different ways, both eloquent, again in different ways, and both loved by their admirers and loyalists, and detested as well by their opponents and critics.
Theirs was one rivalry that shaped the course of the nation in the latter half of the 20th century, its repercussions jumping over to the next millennium, the death of one leading to the downfall of the other. But Upsilon Sigma Phi’s contribution to politics is not just limited to these two great men and by, extension, their better halves and kin.
While Marcos persisted in his accusation of Aquino as a communist, two other brods were sincerely and openly left-leaning. One was Melito Glor ’67 a conscientious pre-Med student who transformed into an activist in the wake of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. After the nation fell under martial law, he went home to Quezon, his home province, where he became active as a political officer of the New People’s Army (NPA). He will later be killed by soldiers, and his name immortalized in the Melito Glor Command of the NPA, like that of another brod and comrade-in-arm, who lent his name to the Medardo Arce Command.
In the South, two brods took the cudgels for their Muslim brothers. Both became senators: Ahmad Domocao A. Alonto ’33 and Mamintal A.J. Tamano ’48.
The Senate, of course, was home to a number of Upsilonians. Aside from Marcos, who became Senate President; and Ninoy, the youngest Filipino to join the upper chamber, were other statesmen like the champion debater and constitutionalist Arturo Tolentino ’31 who also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice President during Marcos’ time; Salvador H. Laurel, who later became Vice President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs during the presidential term of Cory Aquino, the wife of his best friend and brod Ninoy, Joker Arroyo, who first became the Cory’s executive secretary and later a member of both houses of Congress, Sotero Laurel ’38, Juan Liwag ’27, Estanislao Fernandez ’31 and Gerardo Roxas Sr. ’46.
An Honorary Fellow was Gil J. Puyat ’66 who became Senate President.
In the House of Representatives, Jose Laurel ’32 was three-term Speaker. Two Upsilonians served as Speaker of the Interim Batasang Pambansa: Querube Macalintal ’30 (1978-1984) and Nicanor Yniguez ’37 (1984-1986).
Philippine provinces, too, had leaders in the brods. Samuel F. Reyes ’38 was Isabela Governor and Congressman.
Cavite had Juanito Remulla ’51 for governor. His children are continuing his legacy today — Gov. Boying Remulla ’79, Gov. Jonvic Remulla ’87 and Rep. Gilbert Remulla ’89.
Capiz would have a much beloved son in Gerardo Roxas Jr. ’83 who was its representative at the time of his demise.
Emilio R. Espinosa Jr. ’47 was Masbate governor for the longest time.
Perceived as a strongman of Ilocos was Congressman Roquito R. Ablan Jr. ’50, while Leyte would have a fair-haired son in Rep. Martin Romualdez ’85. A mayor loved by the people of Quezon City was Ismael Mathay Jr. ’50. Farther south, Isagani Amatong ’60 was elected by the people of Zamboanga del Norte.
House Representatives are Jacinto Paras ’71 of Negros Oriental, Roman Romulo ’86 of Pasig and Hermogenes Concepcion Jr. ’38.
Richard Gordon ’68 was the youngest delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, like Wenceslao Vinzons ’28 was the youngest delegate to the 1934 convention. Today, Gordon, once the mayor of Olongapo City is in the Senate.
While Philippine politics has evolved through the years, with new faces coming up and new approaches to winning elections being hatched up, the Upsilon Sigma Phi and its many political personalities continue to be in the limelight and in the consciousness of the Filipino voters. If at all, this is a manifestation of the fraternity’s political tradition as it remains committed to gathering light to the Filipino nation.