A Brief History of the U.P. Beta Sigma Fraternity

By Atty. Rico Arranz, Jr.

 One of the Founders and 3rd President of the U.P. Beta Sigma Fraternity




How We Met
At the outbreak of the war on December 8, 1941, together with Ben Arcinas, Tony Cabral, Weiss Escaler, Ernesto Gomba, Nick Jacinto, Bert Macasaet, Teddy Padilla, Ruben Roxas, Carlos Rustia, Ruben Santos-Cuyugan, and Rafael Villarama, I enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila High School at Padre Faura.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, most of us were hearing an early morning mass at the Ateneo Chapel, since it was the Feast of Immaculate Conception. After the mass, we walked home. Public transportation was paralyzed.

On January 1, 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Manila. Ateneo was closed, as it was then ran by American Jesuit fathers. De La Salle, however, was ran by German brothers. Since Germany was allied with Japan, as part of the Axis Powers, De La Salle was not closed.

Ateneans Study At La Salle
Reluctantly, we enrolled at the rival school, De La Salle. There, we met Jaime Blanco, Carlos Ylanan, and others. At that time, La Salle in Taft Avenue was occupied by the Japanese. All La Salle students had classes at Sta. Scholastica in Singalong. For us it was fun. It was the first time we had encounters with the opposite sex. In March, 1944, we graduated from high school.

Moving On To UP
In June of the same year, most of us took pre-law; others took the pre-med course. I took foreign service. During this period, there were very few vehicles; and all civilian cars ran on alcohol. Most rode the Meralco street cars of the bus which were charcoal-fed; or, the Dokar, which was a dressed up version of the caretela. In September, 1944, US carrier-borne Navy Planes began bombing Japanese warships anchored in Manila Bay, preparatory to the landing in Leyte in October, 1944. Because of the hostilities, classes were again closed until after the liberation of Manila in February, 1945.

In June, 1945, U.P. opened for classes again. We had classes at the Cancer Institute in Padre Faura, as the other buildings were in shambles. Classroom partitions were sawali. Practically, all students were wearing khaki and combat boots, the fashion statement of the times. There were very few cars as gasoline was scarce. Those who could afford it rode in army jeeps purchased by their parents from the US surplus depot. After one year in the College of Liberal Arts, campus politics began brewing. Older fraternities lorded over campus activities.

Getting Together
This drove the group from Ateneo and La Salle to join the group from U.P. High School. The three groups decided to coalesce and form one solid group composed of scholars. One of the conditions to join the group was an academic average of 1.8.

The three groups met practically everyday at the 2nd floor of the Cancer Institute. After a series of discussions, Jesus Jayme from U.P. High School was elected president. Nicanor Jacinto, Jr., from Ateneo and La Salle was vice president. In the next year, Jacinto became the president. I succeeded Jacinto the next year, to become the third of the Fraternity. Providing consistent advice to the Fraternity was David Wico, our Social Science professor. One of the first projects initiated by the Fraternity was the Inter-Fraternity-Sorority Council Oratorical Contest held in March, 1947. As the contestant representing Beta Sigma, I won the contest.

In campus politics, the Fraternity campaigned for Teddy Padilla. He was elected President of the Junior Council, and later President of the U.P. Student Council. After graduation from the College of Liberal Arts, together with Ben Arcinas, Weiss Escaler, Nick Jacinto, Teddy Padilla, Ruben Roxas, Carlos Rustia, and Jimmy Blanco, I enrolled at the College of Law. Teddy Padilla graduated magna cum laude; Nick Jacinto and Weiss Escaler were both cum laude.

Tony Cabral, Bert Macasaet, and Rafael Villarama went on to enroll at the College of Medicine and became successful doctors.

Weiss Escaler, Nick Jacinto, and Ruben Roxas are now dead. Ben Arcinas is a successful law practitioner. Caloy Rustia is a retired judge of the Regional Trial Court. Teddy Padilla is now the Senior Justice of the Supreme Court. Dr. Cabral and Dr. Villarama died earlier. Dr. Macasaet is now one of the top urologists of the country. He is based at the Makati Medical Center.

Out of the original 40 founders of the Fraternity, 12 are known to have passed away.




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