UP Beta Sigma Grand Reunion
by Gemma Nemenzo
This April, a year after Willie (Vergara) first mentioned the alumni ball
to me, a few months after he finalized the details, and just a month before
the event itself, I was actually thinking of wimping out.
Gamy Manikan, Ladies Corps Gemma Nemenzo, Benild Pires, Maribelle Payumo,
Ding Cavestany, Brandon Barrido
It was not just because my barkada will not be able to attend. Nilda
(Frias-Sarmenta) was still recovering from her eldest daughter's wedding
and had already scheduled a European cruise. Maripaz (Tagle-Chua) was hosting
a lawyers' conference in Manila; my cousins Tita (Yap-Dagus) was busy with
her book business in Cebu, and Yola (Yap-Manalo) is married to an Upsilonian.
Jojo (Sabalvaro-Tan), my last hope since she is based in Bartlett, IL, had
decided to go to Europe too.
Ed Cornelia, Rey Obed, Sweetheart Maribelle Payumo, Gemma,
Carling Taguinod, Tatang
More than their absence however, my hesitation was personal. I wasn't sure
I really wanted to dredge up that part of my college days when we spent a
lot of time at the Beta balcony. It was great fun, I have treasured memories
of the Betans who became our friends, but the girl that I was then is a
stranger to me now. I wasn't eager to resurrect her, especially in such a
grand setting as a UP Beta Sigma Alumni Homecoming Ball.
Chito '59 (DVM) and Desi Cabaluna, Dr. Emy Fajardo '57 (DVM)
And then Maribelle got her US visa and that took the wind out of my
wishy-washiness. Now, as I bask in the afterglow of the event, I'm so glad I went. I
wouldn't have missed it for the world.
In front row are Benild Pires '63, Gemma Nemenzo, Norman '65,Boi Wico '65,
Frat Sweetheart 66/67 Maribelle Payumo, Ding Cavestany '65. Brandon Barrido '67;
At the back are Ago Romero '68, George Abrina '73, Gamy Manikan '65,
Cyrus Fagar '69 and Ed Rivera '68
Driving together to the ball, Belle and I were musing about how long it
has been since we last saw our Betan friends (more than 30 years) and how we
needed to help each other remember names and faces (or at least share the
embarassment of forgetting). We did a final check at the hotel restroom -
to make sure that our makeup was intact and our gowns were doing their job of
hiding the (many) extra pounds we've gained since college - and then it
(All UPLB Brods): Seated are Tony Ordoveza, Terry Mendoza. Standing are Frank Mamaril,
Johnny Quijano, son of Terry and Johnny Abilay
Everyone was standing outside the ballroom since the doors were not yet
opened. We scanned the faces in the crowd for Willie or Boi (Wico), who
already warned Belle that they too have grown in various directions. No
one even looked familiar. Uh-oh.
Danny Pamilar, Boi Wico, Maribelle Payumo, Zeny Rivera, Elmor Villanueva, and Mildred Wico
Mercifully, a brod came over and asked if we were looking for Willie (I
wonder if he discerned the split-second panic in our smiles). Yes, I
answered, probably a little too quickly. And then he was there - Willie,
our savior, who started introducing us to old brods, and young brods, and
wives and children. For some reason, once Willie got us going, we began
recognizing faces and names -Benild, Norman, Gamy, Eric, Gabby, Freddie, Brandon, and
Boi, of course. Later, we saw Noli and his son, and Jimmy S, Elmor, Tito,
Ike, Ding, Danny, Judge, Bernie and so many other old familiar faces. It
almost felt like the good old days at the Beta balcony, when our barkada
would spend the time between classes hanging out with the resident brods
of the '60s.
No one in our group remembers how it started, how we managed to be friends
with the Betans and why we chose that part of the Arts and Sciences
building to hang out in. Was it because we campaigned for Jimmy Yambao or because
one of us had a crush on a Betan? The years have blurred this detail because
it quickly became irrelevant. Whatever our reasons, the Betans (or at least
many of them) welcomed us into their "territory" and made us feel part of the
To this day, whenever I hear Peter, Paul and Mary, I am always reminded of
Beta Sigma. I have no idea why the association is so strong but the
memories that the songs would stir up are always so pleasant.
The Pretty Stars (Mga Bituin) - Jamie and Jennifer Bituin
I still have two of Ely Santiago's sketches of me hanging in the wall
beside my bed. Through all the turmoil and the many moves in my life, I have
always carried his sketches with me. I never really stopped to ponder why I did
this; all I know is that Ely's drawings have become so much a part of me
that I can no longer imagine a wall without them.
Ago, Kino and Pogs sharing a light moment
As my Americanized children asked me a few years back when they stumbled
upon my college diaries, "Mom, who are these bey-tans that you write about so
Macky Llamarca '68b,Cyrus Fagar 69, Ed Rivera '68a, Ago Romero
'68a, Roland "Kino"
Aquino '68b, Pogs '68b, Danny Pamilar '69
Last year, when Maripaz, Jojo and I had our own mini-reunion at Jojo's
house in Illinois, we looked at old pictures of our college days. The Betans
were prominent, of course. We had pictures with some of you at college fairs
and at the Vinzons.We have quite a collection of photos of us by Mon Carpio.
And then there was the trove of memorabilia that Jojo had collected: original
drawings of Malmon, Beta Sigma stickers, Ely's sketches. It took some
effort (and a lot of giggling) on our part to put names to faces but there was no
denying the pleasure we felt in remembering those days. We loved our Betan
friends because they always made us feel cherished.
L-R back: Willy Ramos, Brandon Barrido,Freddie Young, Ed Rivera,
Belle, Elmor Villanueva.
That's Gamy Manikan beside Gemma Nemenzo.
And at the ball, 34 years later, those of us who knew each other then
bridged the gap between past and present so seamlessly that the three decades of
not seeing each other felt like a mere figment of our imagination. Except this
time we have our wrinkles, our gray hair and extra pounds to remind us
that we have come a long way from those carefree days of the '60s. No matter.
The 2001 UP Beta Sigma Alumni Ball was just as much a homecoming for me as it
was for the Betans because I realized that I have returned to lifelong
Gemma can be reached at Gnn88@aol.com.
Tito de Santos, Maribelle with Gemma Nemenzo, and Noli Nolasco
LOOK FOR: Ambassador Tony Villamor '55, Dr. Carling Taguinod '57, Dr. Ed
Cornelia '58, Dr. Fred Aquino '57, Frat Sweetheart (1966 and 1967) Maribelle Payumo, Chit Taguinod, Evelyn Cornelia, Irma Ramos, Ago '68 and Eva Romero, Danny Pamilar '69 (a legend of sorts)
One can write a whole story just about the Betan Lobby at Marriott. For three days and three nights,
this lobby was always full of
Betans. I went back on the fourth day. It was empty and in the silence,
I could still hear the voices...
Seated: Kino Aquino, Gabby Moraleda, Liling Padilla, Felix Vergara,
Standing: Jun Valenzuela, Noli Nolasco, Pogs Gaspay, Jec Marquez, Ike Araneta,
Gilbert Dulay, Eric Punzalan (President, UP Beta Sigma USA)
Front Row: Tito De Santos, Kino, Gabby, Noli, Danny Galoso. Middle Row: Benild Pires, Tatang, Sluggo Rigor, Eman Crisostomo,
Dennis Navarro, Gus Agustin, Dave Villegas, Lem Michelena. Back Rows: Roman RaulLopez Frantela and wife Josie, Ted Quijano, Brandon Barrido, Ed Rivera, James Madduma, Mandingo Casaclang, Boy Ramos, Otto Kaufmann, Billy Gurango, Billy Sevilla, Felix Vergara,
Gamy Manikan, Ago Romero, Ding Cavestany, Roger Aspiras, Manny Cayetano, Vee Vera, Nick Galvez
Seated: Liling, Tatang. Standing: Gabby, Jun Vale, Kino, Noli, Gilbert, Jec, Ike, Pogs & Eric
Make Way For Jesse James! Cameras a clickin', Movie Camera's a rollin --
COSME SANTIAGO, former GP of Forestry, beside The Legend in full western attire.
Edna's Restaurant is good for a hundred ... the reservation was for 80, but the attendance was double...
It's OK, some of the brods just stayed outside in the breezy night while SF Police watched with their telescope from afar. See some of them in this photo. Left to Right: Jec Marquez (Panzer '69), Mandingo (Utopia Quest '84), Edsel Arceo '73, Flor Pagador '73, Romy Lumauig '51, Tito de Santos (The Great Escape '63), Felix Vergara '56, and Dante Morales (Black Saints '65)
Maribelle Payumo was the fraternity's sweetheart in 1966 and 1967 (2 terms).