A Monday morning with our Beloved Founder, Melecio “Rico” Arranz

Yay Topacio, 77A-UPD



My appointment was at 8:30 a.m. so I woke up early, had a quick breakfast and by 6:30 a.m. I was headed to the house of Brod Og Quesada, at Ubay Street, Quezon City.


Brod Augusto "Og" Quesada (77C , UPD), is a freelance documentary and TV commercial director. Since 2006, he has been the resident video director of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation. Together with his team, they have documented the lives and "best practices" of the Magsaysay laureates, in countries like China, Thailand, India, Japan, Nepal, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.  Brod Og was one of the fraternity thespians in the late 70s who appeared in several U.P. Repertory Company stage plays with the other “artista” Brods like me, Sammy Lazo, Chris Michelena, and the late Bong Medina to name a few.  Brod Og is also my Kumpare as her unica hija, Isabel, is my inaanak.  His charming wife, writer and comedienne extraordinaire Ces Quesada is Ninang to my youngest son, Serjei.  Despite his very hectic schedule, Brod Og acceded to my request to do this video feature pro bono with the help of Isabel, a Film major in U.P.


Brod Og, Isabel and I arrived at Valencia Hills Condominiums at the corner of Broadway and N. Domingo a bit early. As I entered the lobby, Brod Melecio “Rico” Arranz was already there, waiting with his winsome smile.

Who doesn’t know Brod Rico.  Founder and icon, his presence in many fraternity affairs and activities, national or international, has always been sought after. As a Guest or Keynote Speaker he is the highlight of each event. His opinion and views on fraternity matters always sublime.


Before we started, Brod Rico asked me why was I interviewing him and why is the interview being filmed.  The question was inevitable but there I was groping for an answer. I wasn’t prepared for it. I casually told him I will be writing an interview article for the UPBSFI website and had also asked Brod Og Quesada to film the interview so that we can do a short feature that we would like to present when he celebrates his 87th birthday on October 25. He smiled and gamely said, “Ah ganun ba? O sige!


I smiled.  It was half the truth.  I could not admit to him that this was also my selfish way of having a more intimate, more personal conversation with one of our beloved founders.  There were countless times I’ve been with Brod Rico but I never really had the chance to ask him questions I have always wanted to ask.  I guess this was my way of getting his candid and innermost thoughts about our beloved fraternity, have him take me back to in time to his college days and maybe have him reminisce an unforgettable time with our Brods back then.


Let me share this special time I had with Brod Rico as he reflects on how our beloved Beta Sigma came about, his college days with our Brods, the transformation of the fraternity after 67 glorious years, and what lies ahead.




Yay:  What was U.P. like in 1946?


Rico: Katatapos lang ng guerra, yung Cancer Intitute where Beta Sigma was born puro tama ng shrapnel and walls noon. Sawali lang ang mga dibisyon noon kaya nagkakadinigan ang mga kuwarto. You have to consider that the Battle of Manila was 1945, so 1946 lang napakaraming destruction. That was the general atmosphere at that time sa UP. Maraming building ang UP noon but as far as our fraternity is concerned doon kami sa Cancer Institute. Doon nagiging “Porch Lizards” ang mga kasama natin. Kaya naging Porch Lizards tinitingnan ang mga babaeng lumalakad doon and waiting for mga sundo. Walang gasoline noon kaya alcohol ang ginagamit. That was the general situation in 1946.


Yay: Take us back to July 1946. Where exactly were you and this bunch of what you call back then as "Porch Lizards" when you conspired about this Brotherhood of Scholars we are so proud of now?


Rico:  Actually brainchild ni “Jesse James” (Jesus Jaime) yon. Dahil sila, I understand they are Upsilonians at tila nagkaroon sila ng desgusto sa mga Upsilonians kaya humiwalay sila. Sila ni Tom Cosio (ang father ni Ivy Cosio, the wife of Brod Nonoy Bautista). Nag scout sila ni Jesse James kung sino ang mabuting grupo na makukuha. At kami naman na mga taga Ateneo at La Salle ay pirming magkasama ang aming grupo at naramdaman o nakita nila na mabuting grupo ito at isa pa ay puro scholar itong mga ito.  Sa grupo namin si Teddy Padilla ay University scholar,  si Brod Escaler ay scholar at ako naman ay partial scholar kaya kami ang nilapitan nila.


Of course the merger was not easy because unang-una, kami ay may superiority complex Ateneo at LaSalle kami eh yung mga UP  nandoon na sila and most of them are in the Business Dept. sila Jesse James, kaya kami ni-recruit nila. Syempre hindi kami magkakasundo kaagad dahil puro kami mayayabang eh! eh mayayabang din pala yung mga taga UP at mga scholars din sila. Eh kaya nagkaroon ng common grounds na medyo ang gusto ng pareho ay academic excellence. Kasi naman you have to consider that we are third year high school ng magkagiyera kaya naman pagbalik naming ay gutom na gutom kami for education at ganun din ang mga taga UP kaya pare-pareho kaming ganun.


Nakikita nila ng mga founders they excelled in the classroom. Eh kami mag ingles lang kami ay iba eh yung mga “Promdi” iba ang ingles nila kaya that was the attraction to Jesse James.


Pero ang problema noon ay kung sino ang magiging presidente. Aba eh sabi namin gusto namin ay kami,  aba ang sabi ni Jesse hindi naman puede na kapapasok nyo lang dito ay gusto niyo na maging captain ball. Hindi puede, next year na kayo kaya siya ang naging unang presidente. Next year si Nick Jacinto ang naging second president and I was the third president.and then after that eh tuloy tuloy na yon.


Yay:  What kind of a student were you back then Brod


Rico:  Even if I am an athletic, I was very serious in my studies. I was also a member of the dramatic club. I remember we had to go to Dingras, Ilocos Norte and presented a play and I was one of the principal actors so in short I was serious in my studies, serious in athletics and also serious in extra curricular activities.


I was a varsity player but I was more interested in the intramurals at that time.  I was in the LA (Liberal Arts) team and then was Captain of the Law team na naging Champion at that time.  When I was in 4th year Law,  si Prof. Ambrosio Padilla talked to me and said pagbigyan mo naman ang U.P. so I joined the Varsity team. Hindi lang yon as I was chosen sa selection ng UAAP noon as one of the centers.  I was very enthusiastic in sports for the simple reason na sa bahay ko mismo ay may court and at a very young age I was already playing basketball not only in school but also in the community. Nung Japanese time nga eh yung grupo naming sa San Juan went to as far as Pasay to play and dito nga sa Sampaloc naglaro kami at ng nanalo kami eh may biglang pumutok na baril eh yon pala mga bata ni Mayor Lacson yun kaya natigil ang laro.


Yay: Having described yourself like that, can you give us a candid, honest description of our beloved Brod "Jesse James" back then?


Rico:  Si Jesse James, my affiliation with him eh just fraternity.  Hindi naman kami magkaklase eh. Pero sa fraternity noon he was described as “Verdugo” eh talagang siya ay namamalo talaga! In fact, yung father mo nga (Ted Topacio, Batch 49) at si Brod Manalili (Fausto “Usting” Manalili, Batch 49) eh sinabihan niya - “O sige magsampalan kayong dalawa”. Nung mahina ang sampal nila sabi ni Jesse - “ Hind puede yan! laksan ninyo!  kung hindi ako sasampal sa inyo nyan! Kaya hayun nagsampalan yung dalawa and then sinabi ni Jesse - “Hayan ha, I did not even lay a hand on you!”


Yay: How did you recruit the scholars at that time? Did you start by stealing the "Dean's list?"


Rico: By way of mouth lang yon. There is really no criteria at that time.  Nakikita naman namin sa mga kaklase namin kung sino may capacity so yun ang kinukuha namin.


Yay: During my time in the late 70's, aside from the "occasional" rumbles that keep the scholarly Brothers up and about, we have ginebra being passed around in plastic cups in our tambayan starting at 9:00 in the morning so that we go to our respective classes inspired. Saan Brod ang tambayan ninyo noon?  May mga kapilyuhan o kalokohan din ba ang mga esteemed founders of our beloved fraternity back in your student days?  Could you share a couple of unforgetable anecdotes with us?


Rico: Of course nagiinuman din kami noon. Ewan ko kung kailangan malaman ninyo ito but in one instance gusto namin “binyagan” si Teddy Padilla.  It was my birthday and my father was Senator at that time. Ang plate number ng auto ko ay “7” at ito naman si Brod Villarama ang tatay naman niya ay Secretary of Health kaya naman ang coche niya noon ay “6” ang plate number so “13” yon. Eh bibinyagan nga itong si Teddy Padilla so nagkakarera kami sa Roxas Blvd. and we decided to go somewhere in South eh hayun naaksidente kami. Pero incidentally, ang mga nakasakay 13 din kaming Brods noon at ang “casualty” doon sa akisidente ay si Brod Jacinto (Nick) who had a broken leg but the others are okay. I was driving and si Brod Villarama bumulong sa akin at sabi “Brod wala akong lisensya”. Sabi ko ang importante dalhin  natin sa hospital ang mga nasaktan so we brought Nick sa  ospital at dumating ang ambulansya ng Dept of Health. Ah ito nga palang si Nick Jacinto ang tatay naman niya ang Director ng UST Hospital kaya dumating din ang ambulansya ng UST. Na-headline kami sa Manila Times next day – “Sons of prominent Government Officials feature in an  accident”. Eto namang si Brod Cahayon ay tuwang tuwa siya ng mabasa ang newspaper at nakasama siya  kaya noong araw na yon nagyayabang sa tambayan pagakatapos.  Ang hirap noon ay second floor yung classroom namin kaya kami ang nagkakarga kay Nick Jacinto kasi naka-cast siya. Sabi ng mga kaibigan namin - "Hayan sa kalokohan ninyo naakisdente kayo!!"  Pero hindi nga namin masabi kung saan kami pupunta noon pero nahulaan din nila. That was one of the rare moments na ang “brotherhhod of scholars" ay nasabit  sa aksidente.


Hindi natuloy ang pagbibinyag kay Teddy Padilla. But of course as you know, Brod Teddy became a Supreme Court Justice.  Alam mo, fifth grade pa lang magkakasama na kami ni Teddy Padilla at ni Nick Jacinto, at si Brod Escaler parati na kaming magkasama. We all took up Law.  We were actually “brothers” and our families were also together.


Yay: After 67 years, did you or the other founders ever imagined the Beta Sigma you founded will be where we are right now?


Rico: Kausap ko nga si Fronny (San Juan) nung isang araw at natanong ko nga ano ba nangyari sa atin? Papaano nangyari itong naging 67 years na tayo. Yon ang hindi namin maintindihan, why Beta Sigma blossomed into what it is right now. Eh ang explanation namin ay ang mga fraternity brother natin tinutulangan natin ke magkakilala o hindi ay walang diperensya yon kaya siguro it was contagious to the others that is why they joined.  Yon naman ang katotohanan. 


Yay: Let me throw in a controversial question, an issue… was the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity founded for UP alone?


Rico: Well at that time of course it was for U.P. All we were concerned about is to register it in U.P. and we never thought that it will spread all over the Philippines.  Yung mga galing sa U.P. na lumipat sa ibang universities they adopted the name and they did not abandon the name and principles and they continued to have relations with those sa U.P. kaya nag spread ito up to the south, sa Mindanao, sa Visayas. In fact today they are more “die hards” than the original Beta Sigmans from U.P. The non-UP are more enthusiastic and militant in the pursuit of the fraternity ideals.


Yay: One of your dreams sa fraternity is to have a Fraternity House.  Can we hear your thoughts on this dream and do you think this will come true in our lifetime?


Rico: As one of the founders eh sumabog na ang pangalan ko, yung telephone number ko eh occasionally parati ako tumatanggap ng appearance request for guest speaker sa Fraternity… from Lyceum to Fatima sa tuwing anniversary eh patong-patong ito at magkakasunod. Yung iba (Brods) pumupunta dito sa condominium sari-sari - galing ng Batangas, galing ng Baguio, galing ng Ilocos. Nakita ko na hindi coordinated and one does not know what’s happening to the other eh kanya-kanyang anibersaryo at projects eh yun ang problema kaya to my mind a coordinating center is necessary kaya ang sabi ko nga eh tayo dapat meron tayong bahay o opisina at sayang kung if we are together and we can combine all our resources together for the benefit of the country. Eh malaking bagay ito siguro kaya to me one of the reasons I said about 2 years  ago na ang yabang yabang natin eh hanggang ngayon ay squatter tayo wala man lang tayong opisina. Yung 15,000 (Brods) na sinabi nila I doubt it. Baka tingin ko ay mga 20,000 na tayo ngayon.


Yay: Give me a candid description of the some of our Brods at that time:


Teddy Padila?

Rico: Pirming no. 1 sa school at sa College of law. He is one of the few who graduated Magna Cum Laude. He’s been on top all the way through


Tuyo Fernandez?

Rico: Tuyo is in Business.  He was the one who formed the Alumni group. He spearheaded the creation of the Alumni association.  Very energetic yon as far as the fraternity is concerned and  he is also a founder from the UP High side.


Guillermo Pecache?

Rico: A dedicated professional soldier. Tapped by Marcos to head the National Pollution Control Commission. I am glad I was instrumental in helping him get to PMA. Nung sa UP he was one of the Brods and asked me for a recommendation from a Senator so I called the secretary of my father and incidentally ang gumawa ng sulat para makapasok ng PMA. Ginawa nga ito and the next day inabot ko kaagad sa kanya. Dinala niya sa PMA at napasok siya kaagad!  My father at that time was one of the founders of the Liberal party and rank niya at that time was high kaya pinakikinggan naman.


Ted Topacio? 

Rico: Tumira sa San Juan kaya pirmi kaming nagkikita and since we met parati na kaming magkasama.


Raoul Victorino?

Rico: Ng maging Dean yan sa isang school ang sabi ko -  “Ang hirap dito sa ating bayan eh kung sino-sino na lang ginagawang Dean. Golfer yan si Raoul and every Saturday magkasama kami tapos isang Saturday hindi raw siya puede dahil pupunta siya ng Toronto at inimbita to be a Guest Speaker ng mga Brods doon. Ang sabi ko yan naman ang hirap sa fraternity natin kung sino sino na lang ang kinukuhang guest speaker.


And Nonoy Bautista?

Rico: Siya raw ang nag recruit sa akin,  Matagal ko na yan kasama at kaya naman ay he was working for the Jacintos.  Siya ang “Deep Penetration Agent” (of the Jacintos) at lahat nung pinapagawa sa kanya ay ginagawa niya.  Nick Jacinto and family are close to Nonoy. When Nonoy talks to about the Jacintos alam namin ang intricacies of the family.


Yay: If you’re given a chance to go back in time , in 1946 what would you have done differently?


Rico: Well, siguro pareho din kasi as that time ang vision ko in the future was purely to become a lawyer, but the fraternity was incidental except that the mentality that I have today on the fraternity if brought back to that time, it would have been different.


Yay:  Brod this was an honor and a privilege.  Maraming salamat.  Is there anything you want to convey to the Brods?


Rico:  The fraternity has been growing spontaneously with or without my knowledge and of course the key is in our Credo. Ang sabi nga ni Brod Rolly (current President Rolly Reyes), “The core of our credo is love and love conquers all.” It is for this reason that we extend a helping hand to one another it goes farther than what we think and that is the reason why at this point in time since we have been practicing these not only in words but also in deed. I do not think that I can further improve on the current performance of the fraternity considering that it has been continuously growing since 1946, for the last 67 years. 





          **Click for video film of interview>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/w3qxo813pcwwt9s/Arranz%202nd%20cut.mp4*

                           *Note 9/13/16: This link is not working right now and will be restored by Yay Topacio.




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