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Key campus lights of the 20th century

Jojo G. Silvestre

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The first 100 years of the Philippine Republic were particularly interesting and exciting times for the young leaders of the country. The Upsilon brethren, who considered themselves among the cream of the Philippine youth sector, led the men and women of their generation in nationalist endeavors, even as they sought and fought for educational reforms and socio-economic programs leading to the development of the youth.

Right on campus at the University of the Philippines, first in Padre Faura and later in Diliman , as well as Los Baños, the Upsilon Sigma Phi spearheaded many activities and projects that put the young leaders on the spotlight. Many of the brods themselves became the center of controversy, even as they themselves were critical of the country’s government leaders and their programs.

No less than 16 fellows served as University Student Council presidents, while 15 became college student council presidents. An equally prestigious post then, as today, was the editorship of the Philippine Collegian, the UP student paper, held at various times by Upsilonians.

Names to reckon with, not only on the UP Campus, but in Philippine university and collegiate life, were Wenceslao Q. Vinzons ’30, Arturo Tolentino ’31 and Armando Malay ’34, all of whom became Collegian editors.

Tolentino was firm in his “pro” stand in favor of the Hare-Hawes- Cutting Act of 1933, and thus received the ire of Law Dean Jorge Bocobo, who was ferociously “anti.” On Tolentino’s side was UP President Rafael Palma.

Manuel L. Quezon, it has been said, had a love-hate relationship with UP, as he and the students constantly met during convocations where he often tested his political ideas. Student Council President Jose B. Laurel Jr. ’32 once led students in a rally when the President was visiting. Quezon, initially engaged the students in a heated debate, but convinced by their point of view, took a 180-degree turn.

Ferdinand Marcos ’37, a top orator of the era, once attacked Quezon’s frivolous ways, as exemplified by the lavish parties in Malacañang where he loved to tango, at a “turbulent” time when he should instead be concentrating on governance. Marcos had a shouting match with Quezon over the issue of the transfer of the UP Campus from Padre Faura to Diliman, a move that students viewed as a strategy to lead them away from the center of action in Manila.

If there is one name that continues to evoke the noblest of student leadership and activism, it is that of Vinzons, who was both president of the UP Student Council and editor of the Philippine Collegian. In his speeches, he continuously fought Quezon who, he claimed, was turning into a dictator.

The post-war years would finally see the transfer of the campus to Diliman where the Upsilon Sigma Phi continued to lord it over campus politics, but not without its share of defeats and failures.

Emerging as leaders of the war and postwar years were Troadio T. Quiazon ’40, Delfin J Villanueva ’40, Guillermo P. Santos ’41 and Augusto S. Gonzalez, who all became presidents of the UP Student Council, also known as the Student Body Organization. Ponciano G. Mathay ’48, Illustrious Fellow of 1952-1953, became Chairman of the Inter-Fraternity Council.

Other interesting names of the era were those of Catalino Macaraig Jr. ’47, Associate Editor of Philippinensian who would become executive secretary under President Cory Aquino; UP President and Secretary of Education Onofre Corpuz ’47; UP Los Baños Chancellor Abelardo Samonte ‘49; National Library Director Serafin Quiason Jr. ‘50, International Rice Research Institute Executive Director Marcos Vega ‘51; and National Scientists Jose Encarnacion Jr. ‘48 and Ricardo Lantican ’51. Three future senators of the Republic were Salvador H. Laurel ’47, Joker Arroyo ’48 and Mamintal Tamano ’48.

To the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), another extra-curricular activity in which student leaders were expected to excel, Upsilon Sigma Phi contributed Corps Commander-brods Enrique Belo ’46, Angel Arambulo ’47 and Ernesto Sanvictores ’50.

One Collegian editor-in- chief whose name remains emblazoned in the annals of Philippine literature is Elmer Ordonez ’50.

Under the leadership of the Upsilonians, funds were raised to build the Carillon. It also significantly contributed to the coffers intended for the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice, this despite a conflict with the Student Catholic Action and the fraternity’s avowed support for a secular UP.

Described as the “lull before the storm” were the mid-1950s all the way to the mid-1960s. It was the period when Eric de Guia ’59 and Tristan Catindig ’63 became USC President.

The succeeding decade saw the height of student unrest. Memorable through the years was the Diliman Commune from 1 to 9 February 1971. The next year, Manuel Ortega ’66 became president of the University Student Council, the last Upsilonian to hold the post for almost three decades.

It may have been the end of an era in campus politics, but in the national political firmament, the brods were to remain at the helm of various sectors. With martial law enforced in 1972, resident Upsilonians took different sides in the political spectrum. A number became dissidents and many eventually joined the ranks of the best and the brightest of the Marcos administration.

1980s

The passage of time saw the Upsilonians of the ‘80s persevere and ultimately succeed in carving out a name in Philippine society. Among them are Government Service Insurance System Board Director  Jesse Andres ’81, Palawan Vice Governor Dennis Socrates ’82, NASA Scientist Johnson Apacible ’82, Ayala business executive Dan Abando ‘82, Roxas Rep. Gerardo “Dinggoy” Roxas ’83, Tarlac Gov. Victor Yap ’84, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang ’84, Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner Angelico “Chito” Salud ’84, UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez ’84, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez ’85, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo ’86, Assistant Solicitor General Eric Panga ’86, Laguna Board Member Neil Nocon ’87, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla ’87, Pampanga Rep. Rimpy Bondoc ’87, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta ’88, Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla ’89, lawyer Javier Flores ’89, UP President Danilo Concepcion ’89 and world-class singers Dondi Ong ’88 and Lemuel Cuento ’89, among others.

1990s

The ‘90s ushered in a new age of Upsilonians who have shared struggles and a vision of an Upsilon that continues to stand the test of time. Among the prominent Upsilonians of this generation are Raul Paras ’90, Louie Pawid ’90, Danger Sanchez ’91, Mike Sandejas ’91, Lawin Bulatao ’91, Blas Viterbo ’91, Jorenz Tañada ’92, Noel Puyat ’92, Norman Bordadora ’92, Mark Gutierrez ’92, Babes Calixto ’92, William Fuentebella ’93, Miko Palarca ’93, Arnie Fuentebella ’94, Chet Tan ’94, Carlo Vistan ’94, Joseph Angeles ’95, Emil Liwanag ’96, Karlo Tugaff ’96, Pong Ponferrada ’97, Rey Vivo ’97, Professor Nicky Ty ’99 and Judge Jat Caringal ’99.

2000s and beyond

The Upsilonians of the new millennium continue to share the vision and objectives of the founding fathers back in 1918. They remain steadfast in their unending work of gathering light to scatter.

Those fellows include Kris Ablan ’00, Marc Marasigan ’00, Paolo Mapula ’02, Timmy Chua ’02, Third Bagro ’02, Benjo Delarmente ’05, Lester Yupingkun ’07, Ibarra Guballa ’08, JC Tejano ’09, Sean Aquilino ’09, Aaron Letaba ’10, Noel Bernardo ’11, JP Delas Nieves ’13, Leandro Anton Castro ’15, Rai Velasco ’14, Gab Mejia ’16 and Yael Toribio ’16.

To the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), another extra-curricular activity in which student leaders were expected to excel, Upsilon Sigma Phi contributed Corps Commander brods Enrique Belo ’46, Angel Arambulo ’47 and Ernesto Sanvictores ’50.

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