Upsilonians hold 12th world congress
Upsilonians hold 12th world congress
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - January 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Just like in any of their gatherings, Upsilonians held their 12th Congress at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni last week characteristically with fanfare. The immediate past president of the fraternity, Jun Aniag, described such a gathering as one “na walang katapusan ang kwentuhan at pananabik sa brods” (An endless storytelling and fond bonding among the brods). The congress, which carried the theme “Back to Basics,” was held under the auspices of Jun and the past fraternity chair Tony Abad.

The Upsilon Sigma Phi of the University of the Philippines is the first Greek letter society founded in Asia in 1918. It holds a congress every two years, with Upsilon alumni and resident fellows, who pause in their naughty conversations, to talk about substantial issues about the frat and its continuing role in the university. Last week’s Congress was attended by Upsilonians hailing from all parts of the country and the globe.

UP President Emerlinda Roman gave the keynote speech, in which she asked for the fraternity members’ support not in terms of money or funding but by helping make the university as the University of the Philippines. Other speakers were Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, and Cong. Roman Romulo.

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Dick Gordon spoke about his inspiration in joining the fraternity while a fresh graduate from Ateneo entering the UP College of Law in 1968. Ferdinand Marcos, an Upsilonian, was then president of the Republic, and a lot of Upsilonians were in top positions in all branches of government. All presidentiables at the time were Upsilonians — Ninoy Aquino, Gerry Roxas, Turing Tolentino, Doy Laurel, and even Gil Puyat. Dick said he joined the frat not because of those great guys, but due to Upsilonian Wenceslao Vinzons.

The senator filed last year a resolution in the Senate calling for support of government agencies efforts in preparing programs for the centennial celebration of Vinzons’ birth anniversary on Sept. 28, 2010. Vinzons is considered by many as a hero, having organized armed resistance against the Japanese forces during the Second World War, for which he was bayoneted to death.

In his resolution, Senator Gordon said, “It is sad and unfortunate if we allow stories about the great sacrifices of our heroes to be buried into the ages of oblivion . . . If we want to move our country in the right direction, we have to look back to our rich history as a nation and as a people, for then and only then can we ably declare that we have conquered our future.”

At the Upsilon congress, Dick said that Upsilonians have excelled in the arts, culture, education, engineering, medicine and the sciences. However, instead of resting on these laurels, he challenged his brods “to renew your ideals, and aside from ‘Gathering Light to Scatter,’ you must discern from gathering and spreading the ‘Kinang’ from ‘Kislap’ especially in these dark trying times.”

He also spoke of his advocacies — volunteerism as a means to strengthen the values of hard work, computerization of the election process, fighting graft and corruption, and promoting education and health.

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Several fellows were accorded the Upsilonian Noble and Outstanding (UNO) and Luminary Awards. Among the UNO awardees are Dick Zamora, Ricardo Lantican and Gari Tiongco in recognition of their exemplary achievement of the imperative of membership in the fraternity. The luminary awards last week went to Eric de Guia aka Kidlat Tahimik and Antonio Hidalgo for their excellent contributions to the fields of independent filmmaking and literature.

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The congress elected the new directors of the Upsilon Alumni Board led by Eli Ilano as chair, and Tong Puno as president.

Eli joined the fraternity in 1957. He has an MBA, major in administrative sciences, at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has worked in various IT management positions for Burroughs, now Unisys, mainly in the American-Pacific areas. He has tri-citizenship (Swiss, American and Filipino), but prefers residing in the Philippines where his fellow Upsilonians are mostly gathered.

Tong joined the fraternity in 1965, and has an MBA in marketing management from Saint John’s University in New York. In 1996, he established his ad agency, now known as TBWA /Santiago Mangada Puno, which has earned the singular distinction of Philippine Advertising Agency of the Year for three consecutive years, and is recognized locally and globally as one of the leading-edge creative agencies in the field.

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An observer of the comings and goings (and heart-breaking episodes) of Upsilonians, I agree that the Upsilon is the leading fraternity in the country. Politicians, lawyers, medical doctors, academicians and businessmen were present at the 12th Congress. Among those I saw were Tony Abad, Mon Abad, Dante Canlas, Saeed Daof, Danny Gozo, Verden Dangilan, Alfredo Pascual, Rico Agcaoili, Jess Yabes, Gari Tiongco, Chitong Rivera, Arnon Rivera, Arbie Bisenio, Inky Reyes, Sonny Garcia, Efren Yambot, Lito Pedrosa, Maronilla, Bong Manlulu, Behn Cervantes, Igy Ejercito, Romy Escudero, and Carlo Magno.

In his acceptance speech, Tong Puno said “going back to basics is the right way to go. Let us be true to the Credo. We have to study the past in order to live the present as upright, self-respecting men, and prepare for the future, bringing our fraternity to the next level, keeping up with the changing world around us.”

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Heavy rains have caused the overflow of Kahulugan and Gahub rivers, consequently flooding Gingoog City. News reports have reached us about numerous infrastructure and agricultural fields having been destroyed. People are in need of shelter and food. Assistance may be sent to Gingoog City Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona, Gingoog City Hall.

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