Are Greek-letter fraternities still relevant today? If not, how will they be relevant?
This is the theme of the 56th anniversary celebration of the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity Alumni Association, Inc. (BROFAAI) held simultaneously last Saturday, October 9, 2021 in Las Vegas and via Zoom.
The 38 members who attended the Zoom meeting jointly hosted by Pioneer brother Bert Cabardo and Egay Sevilla, both from the mother chapter University of the Philippines and 18 members who attended the celebration in person in Las Vegas believe that the fraternity needs to redefine its existence and be relevant to the present times.
The alumni group heeded the messages delivered by Pioneer member Oscar David, Canada, who spoke in behalf of the overseas members and Pioneer member Ed Gonzalez, Philippines, in behalf of the members in the Philippines; to redefine the group’s existence and make it relevant to this date.
As a non-profit organization, the group will revive its scholarship program in all 15-chapter colleges and universities in the country. The scholarship program started in Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2005 with Jo Estioco as the first scholar. Now married, Jo Estioco Panday, is now a successful professional based in Singapore.
The University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-Diliman) was the mother chapter founded in 1965 and it spread in various universities and colleges in Metro Manila. The chapters include Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU), Roosevelt College, University of the East (UE). Philippine College of Commerce (PCC now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – PUP), Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU), University of Santo Thomas (UST), Philippine College of Criminology (PCCr); Adamson University, FEATI, Marikina College, Philippi.ne School of Business Administration (PSBA); and the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI).
After a long introduction by individual members who came from various places in the world (from London, to Australia, Canada, California, Hawaii, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and the Philippines), and the messages of David and Gonzalez, a Power Point Presentation (divided into two parts) was presented showing activities (trivia/memory lanes/pictures) of individual chapters, a nostalgic presentation for the members to remember. The Zoom meeting lasted for four hours using the premium Zoom account of Pioneer Brod Bert Cabardo from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
As agreed, a small group of conveners representing the various chapters will meet and prepare the working papers to be used during the next Zoom meeting. The main focus for the next Zoom meeting will be the scholarship program and the mechanics of the program.
The BRO Zoom meeting participants from the Philippines are: Feliciano Caringal, Jr.,FEATI; Aaron Cervantes, FEATI; Edilberto Cabardo, UP (Pioneer); Eduardo Gonzalez, UP (Pioneer); Jose Galo Isada, UP (Pioneer); Nick Jimeno, UP; Bobby Genio, UP/UE; Edgar Sevilla, UP; Joey Reyes, UP; Narciso Adraneda, UP; Rolly Tungpalan, UP; Raul Basa, UP; Miguel Soledad, UP; Nestor Mondok, UP; Edwin Cutiongco, UP; Oscar David UP (Pioneer), Vancouver, Canada; Elpidio Estioko, UP; California, USA; Bob Bantolo, UP, California, USA; Joven Gregorio, UP, Sydney, Australia; Raul Bautista, UP, Toronto, Canada; Gerry Cabanero, UP, London, England; Ireneo Gappe, Jr., UP, Hawaii, USA; Zoilo Belano, Mapua, Philippines; Bong Garcia, Mapua, Philippines; Rose Casasola, Mapua, Philippines; Joseph Crisostomo Vallar, Mapua, Philippines; Joanna Estioco-Panbday, Mapua, Singapore; Erick Salenga, Mapua, Sydney, Australia; David Eusebio, Jr. Mapua, Philadelphia; USA; Romy and Beth Serrano, Mapua, UE, Philippines; Juanito and Velvalane Campos, UE, Georgia, USA; Gerry Marcelo, Roosevelt/NU, Philippines; Redie Villafuerte, Roosevelt, Philippines; Jimmie Jimenez, UE, Philippines; and Joey Aspiras, UE, Philippines.
Those who attended the Las Vegas ceremonies from UP are Rudy Saez (Pioneer); Willie Osorio (Pioneer); Jun Gappe; Terry Chentes; Bob Bantolo; Onofre de Jesus (OJ); Roe Tamaray; Efren Sotto; and Boyet Barza.
The MIT brods were led by UP Pioneer and founder of MIT chapter Ed Ramos. Jojo Cruz, Ben Ang; Ding Ahyong; Gary Cuna; Romy Ignacio; Ed Jabson; Jesse Cuison; and Vergel Regencia.
The activities in the Las Vegas celebration were emceed by Jun Gappe, UP, from Hawaii and Pioneers in attendance Willie Osorio, Ed Ramos, and Rody Saez talked about how the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity was conceived and founded.
This brings me back to my college days at the UP-Diliman campus. During those days, fraternities were the training grounds for leaders in the community. Fraternity members felt they were truly men in campus transitioning to society. Maybe it was that I felt like I could control the course and direction of my own destiny. I had become truly self-reliant for the first time in my life.
But the reason I was able to succeed was because I had a brotherhood that was also working to create their own vocation on their own terms. These men helped lift me up, believe in me, and made me stronger than I was standing alone.
There’s an old saying that goes, “When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll finally do something about it.” I got sick and tired of complaining abut a lack of brotherhood when there were so many awesome men around me. So, I joined the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity in 1966 and met and rubbed elbows with other awesome men to do cool things.
The Pledge of Commitment was recited by the members, which goes this way: “Fraternal life is a constant affirmation of brotherhood among men, an unending assertion of collective worth; For this reason, living with men possessed with the same ideals, on this earth must be seen as a continuing movement toward some common goal, toward whatever talent and the thousand possibilities that each man can blend to give life a more meaningful definition.”
With a rejuvenating spirit, the Greek letter Beta Rho Omega Fraternity, Inc. will come to life after the 56th anniversary celebration as a renewed non-profit organization caring for the youth, the community, and each other from here on. The scholarship program in all chapters is the launching program of the fraternity towards its new role as a partner in community development!