Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Fraternities (1st of two parts)

Once again, fraternities are in the news, and people are wondering why they are still around. Following the death of Lenny Villa at the hands of his masters during an Aquila Legis initiation rite, an outraged public, mostly parents whose kids were in college, angrily called for the abolition of all Greek lettered organizations, which prompted some publicity conscious legislators to sponsor bills that would outlaw fraternities and even sororities.

After the clamor died down however, the proposed bill likewise suffered the same fate.

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But before the fatal hazing of Horacio Castillo III, a UST first year Law student with a promising future, there were other previous incidents involving two Ateneo Law fraternities that made the headlines.

It happened on one Sunday of the Bar exams. Rival fraternities Aquila Legis and the Utopia were then conducting their respective Bar ops, with both groups taunting each other before engaging in a bloody brawl, many of the protagonists brandishing guns and bladed weapons.

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At another time, a grenade or homemade bomb was thrown at a gathered group said to be members of a rival fraternity, causing serious injuries to many, one of them the daughter of a Law Dean of a local university.

One suspect was later apprehended and charged, but he denied any participation in the incident.

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A lot of people have this notion that fraternities are nothing more but a bunch of hooligans who love to inflict pain and suffering on the helpless and willing.

Not farfetched, but quite wrong.

There are fraternities who are almost as old as the university where they are founded.

For example, the Upsilon Sigma Phi will celebrate its centennial anniversary next year, and the Sigma Rho, to which I belong, will be 80 years old in 2018.

Famous Upsilonians are Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino. The joke among other frats is that only a “Lonsi” (short for Upsilon) would imprison his own brod. Truth is, it was just politics, and that there was no bad blood bet-ween the two, given their fraternal ties. Just like Lonsi Doy Laurel and FM.

Local “Lonsi” brods are the siblings Fer and Des Bautista, Kidlat Tahimik, lawyers Condring Bueno, Sinai Hamada, Dammy Bangaoet, and Charlie Bareng.

Other prominent “Lonsis” are former Comelec chair Christian Monsod (married to Sigma Delta Winnie Collas), business magnates the Puyats and the Concepcions, and many more in other important fields.

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The father and son Senators Ed and Sonny Angara are Sigma Rhoans, and so is ACCRA senior and managing partner Victor “Boy Luz” Lazatin. So too with Senator Frank Drilon, Senior Associate Justice Tony Carpio, topnotch law practitioners Pandio Vilaraza, Baguio boy Avelino Cruz and former Ombudsman Sonny Marcelo, retiring Justice Presyterio Velasco, millionaire businessman Alfonso “Boy” Reyno. In fact, there are quite a number of Sigma Rhoans in all branches of government.

My local frat brods are Benguet Rep. Ronnie Cosalan (former Grand Archon), Dr. Roger Narvaez, and the late lawyers Art Chan and Placdo Babia. Lawyers Tenefrancia brothers – Danny with billionaire brod Romy Roxas, his younger brother with the Cruz-Marcelo law office, but formerly with the Villaraza law firm.

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Other UP frats are the Beta Sigma, of which the late Horacio “Boy” Morales and former BCDA chair Yongyong Afable are brods, the Tau Gamma, of which I am an “adopted” brod, the Beta Epsilon, with Engineering genius Balatoc boy Dennis Quinto, one of its famous alumnus, and the Theta Alpha Rho, which frat pin resembles the Golden Gate bridge, and famed Thetan high school ‘58 batchmate Rollie Duculan.

High school ‘58 batchmate Rene Cortes is a Utopian, arch enemy of the Aquila Legis, the frat of since deceased lawyer Lizo Bucaycay and Roger Cortes, Mike Arroyo, and Bebot Bello are Aquilans, former first gentleman and current Labor secretary respectively.

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If deaths occur during the initiation rite, the blame is on the head of the Grand Archon, most illustrious fellow or whatever he is called, for failing to his brods and making sure that doctors are always present especially during the finals.

The trouble is that even if the doctors say that a neophyte is all done, the latter will still insist on running the gauntlet, feeling and thinking that he would not be a full pledged brod if he does not undergo the ritual.

(More next Sunday)

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