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Blazing trails in arts and culture



While Upsilon Sigma Phi is known primarily for its statesmen and legislators, the fraternity brothers were also moving forces in the country’s arts and culture.

Foremost among the list is Jose “Pitoy” Moreno (’48), acknowledged by Le Figaro as the “fashion czar of Asia” when he staged his first show in Paris. While Moreno’s membership resulted in much debate within the fraternity, he proved to be a stellar addition to its membership, as well as influential in helping many brods find their forever-afters among his well-heeled clients.

On another front, architect Cesar Concio (’26), who is known for his modernist designs, was another artistic genius. His plan for the grounds of UP Diliman was patterned after the University of Virginia. His sketches for Palma Hall (commonly known as “AS” among UP students) and Melchor Hall (Engineering building) enlarged on the original American-designed Benitez and Delaney halls to provide a symmetrical look to the campus. Likewise, his idea for Quezon Hall served as crown to the university oval.

Thespian Behn Cervantes, director Alexander Cortez, actor Tony Mabesa, fashion czar Pitoy Moreno, National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik, lyricist Mart Martell and theater director Teddy Yabut.

Upsilon is also blessed to have been the wellspring of many great literary minds: writer and UP president S. P. Lopez (’32), journalist Dean Armando Malay (’34), short story writer Sinai Hamada (’35), acknowledged as the father of journalism in the Cordilleras, historian and UP president Onofre D. Corpuz (’47), National Library director Serafin Quiason Jr. (’50), poet Gemino Abad (’55), publisher Tony Hidalgo and essayist and fictionist Elmer Ordoñez (‘50).

In mass media, esteemed brods include Daily Tribune publisher and CEO Willie Fernandez (‘69), Philippine Daily Inquirer publisher Raul Palabrica, Manila Standard publisher Martin Romualdez, and Philippine Daily Express executive editor Enrique “Pocholo” Romualdez (’47).
Other Upsilonians read, seen and heard include newscaster and actor Angelo Castro Jr., lawyer Jake Almeda Lopez of ABS-CBN, veteran GMA newsman Jun Bautista (Augurio Camu Jr. ’55), Danny Gozo (’67), Rolly Fernandez (’70), lawyer Chito Avecilla (’79), former reporter and now Rep. Gilbert Remulla (’89), Norman Bordadora (’92), and Kevin Manalo.

Apart from the Yabut-Zamora-Martell team, other leading lights of Philippine theater were also Upsilon brods: Tony Mabesa (’54), Behn Cervantes (’58) and Alexander Cortez (’67). They spearheaded Dulaang UP and UP Repertory into the formidable creative forces that they now are in Philippine theater.

In show business, Upsilonians also dominate the field. Antonio “Tony” Quirino is considered to be the father of Philippine television; in partnership with Fernando Lopez, he was behind the birth of ABS-CBN. Others brods are Unitel head honcho Tony Gloria, baritone and character actor Gamaliel Viray (’63), photographer and actor Ding Navasero (’70), jazz musician Johnny Alegre (’79), tenor Lemuel Cuento (’89), movie director Manuel “Maning” Rivera (’57), independent filmmakers Kidlat Tahimik (Eric de Guia ’59) and Mike Sandejas (’91) and documentary filmmaker Gabby Malvar (’85).



Prominent members who joined the Fellowship in the ‘40s include Joker P. Arroyo ‘48 (Congressman and Senator), Salvador H. Laurel 47 (Prime Minister, Vice President, Senator and Secretary of Foreign Affairs), Onofre Corpuz ’47 (UP President), Jose “Pitoy” R. Moreno ’48 (National Artist and Asian Fashion Czar), Gerardo Roxas ’46 (Senator), Estelito Mendoza ’47 (Pampanga Governor and Solicitor General), Camilo D. Quiason ’47 (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), Mamintal A. B. Tamano ’48 (Senator), Gen. Rene R. Cruz ’49 (Chairman Philippine Olympic Committee) and Romeo M. Escareal ’48 (Justice of the Sandiganbayan).

An aerial view of UP Diliman on its early years.


Music was very much a part of Upsilon life. Since 1948, the fraternity staged its annual Cavalcade, a musical showcase of the artistic talents of its fellows.

It was from this celebration that the legendary triumvirate of writer and director Teodoro Yabut (’49), composer Ricardo “Dick” Zamora (’49) and lyricist Manuel “Mart” Martell (’47) was born. The trio were the creative geniuses behind “Aloyan,” acknowledged to be the first all-original English-language, Broadway-style musical written in the Philippines by Filipinos.

Taking it on a nationwide tour in 1952, Upsilon was able to raise funds for the construction of the UP Chapel, or Parish of the Holy Sacrifice. This structure is acknowledged to be a Catholic landmark, with architecture by Leandro “Lindy” Locsin, murals by Vicente Manansala and Ang Kiukok, religious sculpture by Napoleon Abueva and mosaics by Arturo Luz, all national artists.

Zamora earlier composed the Upsilon March, with Martell adding later the lyrics and transforming it into the Upsilon March Song. The first few notes of the march follow the opening melody of UP Beloved; he explained that it was the fraternity’s way of paying homage to its alma mater.

Zamora and Martell would also be the brains behind the Upsilon Centennial hymn, which will have its world premiere at tonight’s centennial ball.

Written by Zamora in 2008, in anticipation of the fraternity’s 100th anniversary in 2018 – he was then battling cancer which would later claim his life in 2011 – he collaborated with Martell for the last time in what would be his final contribution to the fraternity.

Roberto Benedicto ’36 (left) and other fellows.


Luminaries of the ‘30s decade are led by Jose P. Laurel (4th President of the Republic of the Philippines), Salvador P. Lopez ‘33 (Foreign Secretary and President of the UP), Estanislao A. Fernandez ’31 (Senator and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), Pablo R. Roman ’33 (Congressman of Bataan), Querube Makalintal ‘30 (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Speaker Batasang Pambansa), Jolly Bugarin ’37 (President Interpol, NBI director), Vicente Ericta ’37 (Justice Tanodbayan), Nicanor Yniguez ’37 (Speaker Interim Batasang Pambansa), Wenceslao Q. Vinzons ‘30 (Congressman, Camarines Sur Governor and Philippine War Hero), Armando D. Malay (Journalist), Domocao A. Alonto ’33 (Senator), Sotero H. Laurel ‘38, (Senator) and Jose B. Laurel ’32 (Speaker of the House of Representatives), to name a few.