[The UP Administration Building where UP Pres. Carlos P. Romulo in a meeting held in mid-1968, patched up the TWO (2) warring fraternities: Beta Sigma and Pi Omicron fraternities, following a shooting incident at the Vinzons Hall]
When the UP PI OMICRON Fraternity was organized in 1963, it never was the intention of the founding members to come up with a war-freak bunch of pugnacious and raucous fellows. From the first batch of graduates among the fraternity members who eventually merged into the community of professionals, medical doctors proved to be the more predominant. Thus, it can be said from this account that the first breed of Pi Omicronians were those who intended to heal, to cure, to fix and never to destroy nor hurt nor kill.
But as it became some kind of DE RIGEUR among fraternities in UP then, circa 1960s to 1970s (and even until today), you can never be entitled to the label FRATMAN, if one way or the other, you have not been involved in a FRATERNITY RUMBLE.
In February 1967, I was initiated at the commodious lawn of the La Vista Home along Ifugao Street of the then outgoing Grand Omicron, the Late Pete De Los Santos. The houses, actually mansions, at the La Vista Subdivision in Loyola Heights, Quezon City which adjoins the Miriam College grounds were not that many. In fact, even the neighboring lots adjacent to the De Los Santos residence were still vacant.
Thus, the initiation rites was done in the open as the nearest neighbor to the De Los Santos home then was about a block away.
The master initiator was Brod Jamil Lucman, Batch 66, who is a Maranaw muslim, and who was intending to become a medical doctor too as he was then enrolled in a BS Pre-Medicine course. Together with Brod Herminio “Germs” Valero, Batch 65, I was repeatedly accorded, among others, the “German kick”. A “German kick” is done with two (2) brods sandwiching the neophyte who is what is asked to go into what is then called as the “assume” position [i.e. crouching position with both hands cupped over your genitals, one on top of the other, as a protective shield, and with the knees slightly bent together] with a pointed strike aimed at the mid-upper thigh. And the number of strikes, is equivalent to the number of letters of the full name of the master initiator. And according to Brod Jamil Lucman then, his full name is: FATHATHON JAMELATHON PANGADAPUN LUCMAN. The paddle-whacking I received was given to me too, in sets and in numbers equivalent to the number of letters of Brod Jamil’s full name.
I was then sort of physically conditioned as I was taking karate lessons courtesy of my maternal first-cousin, the Late Crisanto “Boy” Pabale, Jr., who at that time was a karate black-belter.
During my initiation rites, a tall brod, Brod Bong Panlilio, Batch 66, who was almost 6 feet and 2 inches high, even challenged me to a karate match, I was only 5 foot 6 inches. And the marching order given to me by Brod Bong, was to do the ducking, parrying, evading but never do any striking or counter-punching.
The largest UP fraternity then was the venerable Beta Sigma Fraternity, which was organized in July 14, 1946. It was bruited about that then, which has not been confirmed however, that Beta Sigma came about as some kind of splinter group from the illustrious Upsilon Sigma Phi, which is the oldest fraternity not only in the Philippines but also in the whole of Asia. Upsilon Sigma Phi was founded in 1918.
The UP Beta Sigma Fraternity during that time was reportedly 100 plus strong while we only have about 30 members then, when I enlisted with the Pi Omicron Fraternity. It increased to around 50 resident members thereafter. Moreover, it was widely perceived then that the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity members are all KARATEKAS, as they have among their roll of members, a topnotch KARATE practitioner, Mr. Johnny Chiuten, who has been reported too, as teaching his fellow Beta Sigmans the famous martial art at that time, known as KARATE.
With the plausible cause unknown to us all, the Beta Sigmans seem to be so intent at bullying and intimidating us, as Beta Sigmans would pass by our hang-out casting dagger-looks at all of us. Not wanting to create any trouble, we continuously ignored this, until there was this teeny-weeny but stout and chubby Beta Sigman whose nickname was JUDGE who would even stop a while, at our very own hang-out while casting dagger-looks at all of us. Still, we ignored it.
But as it has always been DE RIGEUR among fraternity members during those days to be customarily engaged in drinking sprees for a round or two of beer, it came to pass that in one drinking session, JUDGE became the topic of the discussion. And a plan was hatched…to kidnap this short but stout JUDGE, and the risky job of kidnapping JUDGE was placed upon my shoulder.
Since this incident happened almost 50 years ago, I guess it would be safe to disclose it not as some kind of model to be emulated but as some practice that should be avoided.
“Kidnapping”, as a term used then, was not as it is being done today. When one is KIDNAPPED then, the victim is apprehended and is brought against his will to a place where all of the fraternity brods of the KIDNAPPER is having a joyous drinking spree. Actually, when I “kidnapped” JUDGE I had to booze up earlier at the drinking spree and kept myself inebriated for added bravado and courage. Thus, having known beforehand as to what is JUDGE’s last class at the Palma Hall, I together with two (2) brods stationed ourselves along the corridor and upon the ringing of the bell signaling the end of the class session at 6:00 PM, I entered all by myself inside the classroom, after the professor has exited the room. But as JUDGE was somewhat resisting the “arrest”, the assist of my two (2) other brods became necessary and thereafter, JUDGE’s resistance was overpowered.
There was no instruction to hurt JUDGE, except in the attendant jostling and “arresting”, JUDGE was pressed, gripped and manhandled one way or the other. After JUDGE felt that his further resistance was futile, he eventually decided to come freely.
At the drinking spree, JUDGE even joined us in the drinking and was even voraciously wolfing down the finger food. After telling him that we wanted peace and does not want war, JUDGE seemed to have realized that we really want to be friends and not foes. Thereafter, JUDGE was even brought home.
It turned out however that JUDGE reported this matter to his brods, who got so iked, and one by one, THREE (3) of our Pi Omicron brods were accosted and mauled.
Brod Jamil who was the incumbent Grand Omicron then, came and arrived at around noontime on campus and I together with the Late Brod Gerry Santos, Batch 66 and Grand Omicron after Brod Jamil’s term; and Brod Oca Badillo , Batch 68, was asked by Brod Jamil to come with him to the Vinzons Hall. The Vinzons Hall was known as the hang-out of the Beta Sigmans at noon. I was myself fearful to join the trek to Vinzons Hall as I am sure we will not only be outnumbered but will also be outfought. However, the sight of Brod Jamil with his eyes as fiery as a fireball, accorded me some cockiness and macho-posturing. Also, though Brod Jamil was not too tall but his frame was large and imposing, I descried some kind of a revolver tucked on his waist.
While ascending unto the uphill road towards Vinzons Hall, a throng of Betan Sigmans, about 30 of them, descended from the topmost point of the road and our group and the Beta Sigmans met at the center of the road.
It was about to turn into some kind of a peace powwow as the spokesperson of the Beta Sigmans with some degree of equanimity complained about the “kidnapping” while Brod Jamil whined about the mauling of our brods. But, a Beta Sigman who came from behind, not knowing perhaps that the talks were at the brink of turning into a peace powwow, landed a flying kick which hit Brod Jamil at his back. Due to this, Brod Jamil pulled out his powerful caliber 357 gun and with just a single shot, THREE (3) Beta Sigmans fell on the pavement: the first with a gunshot wound on his left arm, the second with a gunshot wound on his hip and the third, with a lodged bullet in his left foot. Thereafter, with the ringing shot, all the Beta Sigmans vanished as though they were swept under the rug. And Brod Jamil together with all of us fled on foot too. We were all wary then because at that point in time, we feared that someone from the Beta Sigma side might have been fatally wounded. It was only from the newspapers that got released the following day that we learned about the gunshot wounds sustained by the THREE (3) Beta Sigmans.
It was Gen. Carlos P. Romulo who was the incumbent UP President then, and what he did was to call the officers and members of the TWO (2) warring fraternities to a meeting at the UP Administration building.
On the appointed meeting date, the UP Administration building was teeming with people, courtesy of then Congressman Haroun Al Rashid Lucman of the lone district of Lanao del Sur, uncle of Brod Jamil, who required all Muslim students studying in Manila then as well as vacationing male Muslims at the Quiapo Muslim center, to attend the meeting. This was after Cong. Lucman was told that the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity is more than 100 member strong. Actually, THREE (3) bus loads of able-bodied male Muslim students were transported to UP Diliman that day.
When Pres. Romulo asked Cong. Lucman: “Rashid, why did you have to bring all these Muslim students here?”.
The Late Cong. Lucman answered with a snicker on his face: “To manifest their solidarity to my nephew, Jamil Lucman.”. And the war between Beta Sigma and Pi Omicron was then momentarily patched up.