Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity
During the early years of Marcos' first term, the Philippines was doing fine as manifested by the good performance of the economy. Or so it seemed.
The Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines was normally festive. Beatles and Motown records were continuously played, as they were the hits then. The only thing that disturbed the students from reading Gregorio F. Zaide's history books were complaints about terror Professors, dilapidated comfort rooms, inadequate library materials, water shortage in the campus and busted lights in the classrooms.
Rumbles and traditional fraternity balls characterized fraternity life. Fraternity men, dashing in their coats and tuxedos, were always ready to shower their muses with expensive flowers in frequently held balls. The campus was a constant battlefield as each fraternity aspired to emerge victorious in every encounter. Among the existing fraternities then, it was almost always traditional - a race for glory, glamour and supremacy.
However, outside the country, something was brewing that shall later forever be etched in history. Sweeping across the globe were liberation movements out to challenge US hegemony and imperialism. People of Asia, Africa and South America wanted emancipation from the bondage of political and economic oppression.
The Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) was America's last line of defense against a growing tide of global revolution. People in colonized countries wanted to free themselves from foreign domination to seek their own destiny. Not long after, the Vietnam War escalated.
For the Americans, retreat meant humiliation, and advancement, destruction. To lose was never an option. Weapons of modern technology proved futile against Vietnamese guerilla warfare. The war was proving too costly to sustain. And their involvement was soon becoming a moral dilemma, for people back in the US were already trying to question what the war was all about. Thereafter anti-war sentiments gained momentum as more and more street demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War were held in major cities all across the US.
West Coast university campuses became venues of progressive discussions and mobilizations. Teenagers grew their hair long to protest the compulsory drafting in the military service and militant African Americans formed the Black Panther. Freedom of speech was demanded amidst songs of freedom and peace.
All of these developments were to have a chilling effect on the Philippines. Students coming home after scholarship abroad brought with them progressive ideas. The students began questioning reality. Are we really well off? Why do we complain about trivial matters such as dilapidated comfort rooms when the Vietnamese are already giving their lives for the nobler cause of genuine freedom and independence?
Hence these dictate the tempo of the late 1960's. It was time of questioning, a time of action, a time of change. It was the students, brandishing progressive ideas like swords of steel, challenging the dragon that was the root of society's evils. Bonding together, they shook the very foundations of Philippine realm.
Awakening dawned through discussions in campus. Talks with the masses, the peasant and the workers gave the answer to their questions. Soon, the exploitation without a face was unmasked. Feudal factors tied the masses to poverty and oppression. The enemy became known - US imperialism.
Guided by Mao's "Red Book" and Lenin's "What is to be done?" students started organizing themselves. Remnants of the old revolutionary movement, the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) reassessed. In 1964, Kabataang Makabayan (KM) was founded to serve as an organization for fanning the UP students’ political and intellectual ferment.
Among the founding members of the KM was Luzvimindo Timbang David. One day, an acquaintance suggested putting up a fraternity to support the growing movement in the campus. This noble endeavor was realized in the summer of 1968 when a group of more than twenty UP students built foundations of a new fraternity. It was their desire for a stronger and more kindred bond of political unity that they sought to intervene the purpose of and action of social ideals with the camaraderie and integrity found in a brotherhood.
The fraternity envisioned was to be different from the existing ones. It was a nationalist, service-oriented, counter-institution brotherhood that was to bind Filipinos from all concerns of the Philippines.
Doroteo Cubacub Abaya Jr., a member of Crux Anzata (organization of martial arts practitioners), one among twenty students, devised the measures to determine who will be the master founders. These included hiking, swimming and many physical activities. Soon, the group was trimmed down to just five: Doroteo "Doti" Cubacub Abaya, Luzvimindo Timbang David, Joaquin "Jack" Manego Gan, Alfredo "Fred" Dela Cruz Lansangan and Willam "Willy" Yao.
And on the 1st of September 1968, in a sugarcane field in Pampanga near the Abacan River, the Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity was born amidst the turmoil of the times. Among the five left, William Yao unfortunately missed this historic event due to bad weather.
1969 was a silent year for the fraternity as it was a time for recruitment and a time to strengthen the bond between and among the members. Manny Manuel and Ding Baluyot, along with other new brods, helped the master founders lay the grounds for the fraternity's take-off.
The early 1970's was a time to lead. Fraternity members are in the forefront of student demonstrations against growing social injustices, graft and corruption in the government and other issues that were important to the students and to the Filipino people in general. By then there was a growing dissatisfaction among the people with the incumbent administration. Mobilizations formed part of the neophyte process.
When Martial Law was declared on September 21, 1972 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1081, it disbanded most of the political organizations and forced the remaining hardy few to go underground. As a consequence and in wanting to serve the people better, Mindo left the fraternity and went underground. Doti, along with Rey Mendoza and other brods, went as far as Mindanao, penetrating the plantations of Transnational Corporations (DOLE, Standard Fruit Company) to organize farmers. Brod Ed Aquino became the fraternity's first martyr when he willingly gave up his life fighting for the people's cause. One by one, many of the brods active in the protest movement were arrested. Jack eventually became a doctor while Fred tried his luck in US. Those who were left continued to fight.
The time-tested Fraternity System in the University of the Philippines has come to be regarded as a campus institution.
Greek letters came to stand for the names of the various brotherhoods in commemoration of the noble Greek Philosophies. Foremost among these is arête, the quest for physical and intellectual excellence, emotional and spiritual serenity.
A major aspect of the Greek-lettered community, common to all fraternities, lies in the rites of passage. These herald the rebirth that marks a new brother's entry into the family, as well as a tempering of his integrity and perseverance. It is the experience shared by every generation of members, binding them as a mother's umbilical cord would.
Yet the same rites that endow fraternities with their unmistakable mystique have also lent over them the shroud of elitism. Coupled with arrogance, this has resulted in the contempt held by mainstream fraternity men for others outside their exclusive circle, all often leading to aggressive confrontations.
The Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity, which stands for Samahan ng Kabataang Pilipino, being a nationalist and service-oriented brotherhood, seeks to bring down the walls of exclusivity surrounding fraternities and be one with the masses in order to serve them better. In the process, we necessarily seek to avoid the violence that accompanies vain and petty squabbling.
Taking a cue from Claro M. Recto, nationalism is "... a banner of freedom proclaiming the national interest of the people, to be promoted or safeguarded by themselves so that the fruits of their efforts and wealth derived from their God- given resources shall accrue to them and thus enable all our people to rise above poverty, and march to prosperity contentment and dignity..."
It is from this very general definition of nationalism that the fraternity wishes to express love for the country and its people. Nationalism does not limit and does not prescribe how one would show his concern for the welfare of the country and the majority of the Filipino people. Nationalism that believes that the resources of the country should be controlled and exploited only by our people and benefits resulting thereto should accrue only to them.
The fraternity espouses a kind of nationalism that does not advocate economic, political, scientific or cultural isolation. It is not anti-development in that it believes that our people deserve all the ease and comfort, good health, and access to the best products of man’s intellect and artistic spirit that the highest achievement of science and art can provide. For this reason, nationalism that believes in the economic, political, scientific and cultural interchanges with other countries but is careful and selective, always placing priority needs and welfare of the majority of the Filipino people.
Members of the Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity believe that they play an important role as catalyst of change in the society. Being so, they have never been known to be closemouthed about social problem besetting our country. In order to be effective in this important role, it is therefore imperative to every member to be of service to the Filipino people.
The Sigma Kappa Pi is a fraternity committed towards serving the Filipino people specifically of marginalized sector such as the peasants, the workers, the urban poor and the indigenous people. In this light the fraternity conducts activities to provide its members with first hand experiences of the prevalent problem problems affecting these sectors. It serves to heighten the social awareness of its members and provide them with the opportunity to extend whatever support they can give to uplift the conditions of these people.
As students, members serve the studentry by trying to fulfill their role as catalysts of change by providing venues to understand issues affecting them and the country. As professionals, members serve the people they deal with everyday in their individual professions with utmost fairness.
What makes the Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity different from the rest of the Greek-letter society is the bond that embraces its members. Unlike other traditional fraternities, the brotherhood being espoused within the fraternity does not prejudice against chapter, age, race, or religion. Every brother is treated with utmost respect.
The Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity is more than an organization. It is at once both a movement and a family. Its members are brothers in every sense of the word – standing by one another’s side through time and circumstance, yet unhesitant to correct a brother straying too far from the path. The brothers are loyal, but critical just the same and ever mindful of the goals and principles of the fraternity.