[This was the front page headline of the July 21, 1969 issue of the Manila Times, which stories (i.e. Miss Universe contest and the landing on the moon) were continuously carried in the news throughout that week. Efforts on my part to get an image of the July 22, 1969 issue proved futile.]
About that clash between me and the Betans which happened almost in front of the Men’s Room along the corridor at the ground floor of the Palma Hall, in early July 1969, the Late Brod Gerardo “Gerry” Santos (Batch 66) would almost always recount to the junior brods of the fraternity, an intriguing story.
Brod Gerry would usually start off with the statement that he was so amazed as to how I was able to scuttle, dart and dash out of Palma Hall with my head covered by the wooden waste receptacle. Brod Gerry would always jestingly picture me as having x-ray eyes to see through the wooden waste receptacle and out into our escape from the pursuing Betans.
Thus, during reunions, a lot of the younger brods would ask me if indeed it were true that the wooden waste receptacle landed smack unto my head, thereby capturing the whole of it. And they would make a follow up question as to how I was able to run without tripping and eventually wangle that stuck receptacle from out of my head.
Indeed, after that clash, the whole of the fraternity was haunted with the question as to whether we will all continuously be on a long private holiday. Skipping our classes and making our presence rare at the UP Diliman campus became the order of the day.
Truly, not one among us, was able to attend our classes at UP for fear that the Betans were hunting us all down. And, we surely will be outnumbered and outfought.
There was a mixture of doves and hawks in our war room. The doves wanted immediate peace as they say that we cannot go on continuously gallivanting on a self-appointed private holiday. They wanted to start up a peace talk with the Betans outright so that they can attend their classes without fear.
The hawks however which included me, opined that if we will not deliver a telling blow unto the Betans, we will perennially be looked upon as cowards and that we will always be just ignoring the dagger looks of those combative Betans. Also, the hawks in our midst said that if no big thing would happen, the UP authorities will not immediately intervene to patch up things just what Gen. Romulo did during the 1968 Vinzons Hall incident. At that time, the UP President was Pres. Salvador P. Lopez.
Eventually, a decision was reached to “invade” the hang-out of the Betans. Our assembly area was at the house of Brod Carlos “Bong” Panlilio (Batch 66) along Xavierville Avenue in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
It was a Monday morning, July 21, 1969, as we assembled at the large garage of Brod Bong’s parent’s house along Xavierville Avenue, and every one of us was required to bring a lead pipe.
Brod Felixberto “Jun” Olalia, Jr. (Batch 66) who was the incumbent Grand Omicron then, spoke first and I was thereafter tasked to pep up and deliver a talk to incite my brods into their fiercest anger. I started out by asking them if they were contented to be looked down upon, to be trampled upon and to be humiliated by the Betans. I even told them that if they think that fighting for our dignity was not worth it, they can freely leave the premises of Brod Bong’s parents’ house and no questions will be asked.
I then started to cry like a child with the aim of making them feel how I felt when I fought off the Betan Moraleda and risking a stab from his balisong just as to stand up for the name and honor of the Pi Omicron Fraternity. I wanted them to become incensed and enraged as though as fierce as a tiger ready to pounce upon its prey when we land upon the Beta Sigma hang out.
Earlier, I was pessimistic that I could fire them up as I know that most, if not all of them, are peace-loving, never pugnacious not having been involved in a brawl or this kind of combat that we will be pursuing against a known horde of KARATE practitioners. However, I and Brod Gerry identified one particular brod whom we think was an extreme pacifist, the soft-spoken and humble Tom Badique who was then in his junior years at the College of Engineering. And we spotted Brod Tom, being the most peace-loving of them all, as our measure and guide, our crucible.
While I was crying, I saw the other brods shedding tears too and when I saw that Brod Tom was already gritting his teeth in anger, I said to myself that we have all been prepped up and are now prepared to face the test. And we, about 40 of us in groups of 10, will face off with the enemy, the Beta Sigmans; all of us armed with lead pipes, from the east, from the west, from the north and from the south.
Brod Jun Olalia as leader of the SOUTH GROUP wanted me to come with his group and we will be approaching the Beta Sigma hang-out from the south, coming in from the pavilion located at the extreme eastern portion of Palma Hall. With our group was Brod Oscar “Oca” Badillo (Batch 68) too.
The WEST GROUP was headed by the Brod Gerry Santos who will approach the target through the corridor coming in from the west end entrance to the Palma Hall. The NORTH GROUP was being commanded by Brod Godofredo “Fred” Tunac (Batch 68) coming in, using the main entrance of the Palma Hall, ascending unto the second floor and descending unto the ground floor at the extreme eastern end of Palma Hall through the stairs adjoining the Beta Sigma hang-out. The EAST GROUP skippered by Brod Dante Ferrer (Batch 68), was to come in, into Beta Sigma’s hang out from the then BA Building. All of us were on board hired taxicabs coming in into the Diliman campus, and that as our crude escape plan, every one will be on his own, getting and escaping out from the fracas.
We set the attack upon the sound of the school bell ending the 12 noon class sessions. The MARCHING ORDER given to each of the brods was to HIT, HIT, HIT and HIT with the use of the lead pipes; and thereafter, RUN.
The Betans were caught unaware as they never thought that we will invade them at their own TURF. They felt resigned that we have called the whole semester as a holiday and that we will never ever set foot at UP Diliman campus again.
But with respect to our group, the SOUTH GROUP, something went wrong on our way to the target. Brod Oca was as fierce as a famished wolf and he mistook a member of the Alpha Phi Omega (“APO”) as a Betan, while we were passing the Greenhouse (actually the Greenhouse is a cafeteria located between the 4th and 3rd Palma Hall pavilions), the acknowledged hang out of the APO. Thus, Brod Oca whacked the head of an APO member, whom he mistook as a Betan, with his lead pipe. And all hell broke loose when the APO members ganged up upon Brod Oca and accosted and mauled him. But Brod Jun Olalia intervened and when the mauling continued, Brod Jun did the most wonderful thing that I ever saw, like a parent to a child. Brod Jun enveloped and embraced Brod Oca and eventually they rolled together on the grassy portion of that patch near the Greenhouse as Brod Oca fell from the violent blows, strikes and kicks delivered by the APO members. Thus, instead of Brod Oca receiving all the blows, Brod Jun received the blows instead. I kept watch and pleaded to the APO members some of whom were my friends and known to me and after a while, the melee near the Greenhouse stopped. The other members of our SOUTH GROUP particularly Brod Alberto “Al” Bernabe of Batch 68, whom I assigned to head the splinter, however moved on and delivered their own whacks at the heart of the target. I stayed behind as Brod Jun continued to embrace Brod Oca, as I tried to appease the APO for I was thinking that if this spat with APO would not be settled, we will end up with TWO (2) enemies in Diliman, the Beta Sigma and APO fraternities.
Thereafter, we scuttled, darted and dashed out after the appointed time for the “RUN”, has lapsed. However, police officers were all around the campus then, as they were in fact suspecting that some violence could erupt.
On my way to our escape route, I was apprehended by the police officers of the UP detachment. I tried to run but the police officers surrounded me and I gave up. I was apprehended in front of the Faculty Center at the corner of A. Roces Sr. and Roxas Avenues. We, about SIX (6) of us, were all brought to the police station which was located near the College of Law then. We were hauled into a mobile car [at that time for sheer lack of funds perhaps, a police mobile car was actually a Willys-type jeep (with no sidings but bare iron braces in “X” form)] for eventual delivery unto the police station. All of us were cramped unto the small back seat. What was funny was that Brod Ronaldo “Ronnie” Manalastas, Batch 66, before the Willys-type jeep (“Jeep“) started to roll unto the station, managed to escape by jumping out of the Jeep. Thus, the police-driver and his companions alighted (who actually just hanged unto the Jeep’s side) alighted drew their pistols, raised them up and hollered: “WALANG TATAKAS PA HA!” [English translation: “DON’T EVER FOLLOW AND ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE!’]. And as Brod Ronnie raced northward through A. Roces Sr. Avenue like an Olympian trying to break the 100 meter dash record, towards the Engineering Building along Osmeña Avenue, a motorcyled cop materialized at the corner of A. Roces Sr. and Osmeña Avenues. The motorcycled cop actually just waited for him at what seemed to be Brod Ronnie’s supposed 100 meter dash finish line. And Brod Ronnie had to raise his hands up in surrender.
When I was arrested, the arresting police officer frisked me and found a balisong (i.e. fan knife) inside my pocket. I was looking forward to a sure expulsion as I know then that such an act is punishable by the extreme sanction of EXPULSION.
At that time, the fashion trend was the AMBOY look…it was an outfit of a white undershirt with round collar and a loose short-sleeved polo shirt with denim pants over it and the outfit is capped with sneakers on one’s feet. I was wearing a navy blue polo shirt and upon reaching the police station, I asked permission to urinate at the comfort room inside the police station. Upon entering the comfort room, I quickly removed my navy blue polo shirt, dumped it down unto the waste basket after lifting and replacing its cover. As I exited the comfort room which is situated nearest to the entrance, as there were many students already milling at the entrance to the police station (having heard about the rumble at Palma Hall and that culprits were already detained at the station), I managed to mix into the crowd and eventually walked out to freedom. WHEW…that was truly close!!!
On hind sight, whenever I and Brod Jun Olalia, who was our Grand Omicron then, and who eventually became a magistrate (i.e. Regional Trial Court Judge in Manila) after graduating from UP Law in 1979; would reminisce about those days, Brod Jun would jestingly announce: “IF NOT FOR THE FUROR ABOUT THE MISS UNIVERSE CONTEST IN 1969 WHERE OUR GLORIA DIAZ WON AND THE LANDING ON THE MOON, WHICH WAS THE TALK OF THE TOWN DURING THE WHOLE WEEK THEN, THE MANILA TIMES BANNER HEADLINE ON JULY 22, 1969 COULD HAVE READ THIS WAY: “OLALIA TERRORIZES U.P. DILIMAN CAMPUS””
Actually, the Manila Times (i.e. the Manila Times was the leading daily then) issue for the following day, July 22, 1969 actually reported about the fraternity rumble in UP but that it landed at the lower portion of the papers’ FRONT PAGE.
On the other hand, the Philippine Collegian reported with photos about NINE (9) members of the Beta Sigma Fraternity who were all admitted at the UP Infirmary with ugly wounds on their head. Ironically, lying in bed beside the Beta Sigmans also at the UP Infirmary was our brod, Brod Narciso “Tito” Mendoza (Batch 69), who tripped during the escape, was ganged up and mauled by the Betans except that the police officers timely called in to his rescue.
As I have earlier said, memorializing these events about fraternity rumbles is not for the younger brods to emulate, but to serve as a helpful guide by deriving moral lessons therefrom towards charting the future for a better PI OMICRON FRATERNITY and a better PHILIPPINES.