The Formation and Legacy of UP Ibalon:A Testimony


by Mighty Baylon

The first Bicolano organization in UP Diliman after martial law was declared was the Molave Kurahaw which was formed in 1973. It was an informal organization of 23 Bicolanos residing in Molave Residence Hall during the time when student organizations were still banned in UP.

In June 1974, when student organizations were again allowed in UP, the pre-martial law Bicolano organization, the UP Paglaom, which was established in 1962, was revived. It used the former organization’s constitution, structure and admission policy. To become a member one has only to register and pay the membership dues. Membership is good for one semester and elections are held every semester.

The revived UP Paglaom lasted barely a semester. An internal fight connected with UP student elections arose and it led to the forced resignation of all the officers. When it seemed that the organization was about to be hijacked four members questioned the proceedings.

To lead the organization, a Steering Committee of 15, four of which came from an outside organization and the four that questioned was formed. It was to lead the organization through a transition period and the only agendum was to draft a new constitution, after which a new election will be held. With a quorum requirement of 3/4 and all decisions needing a 3/4 absolute majority (12 votes are always needed) the compromise soon reached a deadlock and the semester was fast ending.

Walking away from one of the many meetings that failed to reached a quorum (it was only in the first meeting that there was a quorum), the consensus of the majority was to build a new organization under a new basis. It was the agreement that a new constitution will be drafted during the semester break.

To lead the new process the founders (or revivalists) of the UP Paglaom and the leadership of the Molave Kurahaw (the ‘Molave Kurahaw Core Group’ of 7 members) coalesced. A new Steering Committee of 5 was formed. Two from the first group was nominated (Jake Repomanta and Yoli Reyeg) and another two from the second group was also nominated (Mighty Baylon and Nestor Raneses). A fifth tie-breaking member, Steve David, who belonged to both groups was included.

To monitor the day-to-day situation and to offer a choice menu to the Steering Committee, a Planning Group was formed consisting of the other four members of the Molave Kurahaw Core Group. The four were Floro Balce, Totie Mesia, Ray Rayel and Raul Sabularse.

The Steering Committee and the Planning Group tackled four points:
1. The ‘blueprint’ or the master plan in forming the organization secretly (because of the physical threats) and how it would be sold to the Bicolano studentry.
2. The organization’s model. It was decided that rather than following UP Paglaom’s model of a mass organization of Bicolano students with automatic membership, it will be a much-smaller but compact organization of highly-motivated Bicolano students and that subsequently an application process will be instituted until the majority of interested Bicolano students are under its fold.
3. The preparation of a new constitution.
4. The selection of the first batch of members, the charter members. A criteria was prepared and high on the list was leadership ability because we wanted to get the leaders of the fragments of UP Paglaom.

Seeded to charter membership were the members of the Steering Committee and Planning Group and three of the four that objected to the take-over (Lily Hidalgo, Eden Lao and Caring Nasol, the fourth being yours truly). An additional 16 Paglaom members passed the ranking process. However, four of the 16 were not invited because the rules called for a subsequent unanimous vote of the Steering Committee.

So 12 Paglaom members were invited. Two declined because of previous commitments (Lily Hidalgo and Bullitt Marquez) but promised to help. One left for Canada shortly because of a YFU (Youth for Understanding) scholarship (Egay Rosero). Another two declined because of personal reasons (Cathy Triunfante and Jean Cortes) but promised to withdraw only when the organization is already formed (however Jean Cortes didn’t want her name to be included). So the OSA (Office of Student Affairs) requirement that a student organization must have 20 members to be recognized was met.

To avoid prying eyes the plenary discussion of the constitution was held in the Mt. Makiling resort area of UPLB where Cathy and Jean also attended. All the subsequent meetings were held secretly, mainly in a secure room at the UP Women’s Center (courtesy of Mita Jimenez) or the Parks and Wildlife Nature Area in Quezon Avenue. The 3/4 signature needed to activate the new constitution was reached on December 1, 1974 and it was ratified in a subsequent meeting on December 4 at the Parks and Wildlife where the first elections were held.

The first Board of Directors consisted of:
President – Mighty Baylon
Vice-President – Jake Repomanta
Secretary – Min Paje
Treasurer – Nes Raneses
PRO – Grace Princesa
Academics Committee Chair – Asena Arcilla
Socio-Cultural Committee Chair – Caring Nasol
COMELEC Chair – Eden Lao
Sports Committee Chair – Gods Lanuza

With the election of the new BOD the Steering Committee and the Planning Group ceased to exist.

Other Charter Members were Yoli Reyeg, Steve David, Floro Balce, Totie Mesia, Ray Rayel, Raul Sabularse, Delen Padilla, Vines Nolasco, Joey Jaucian, Bobby Peralta and Cathy Triunfante.

Since help was needed in the transition process, a secret batch of applicants were already present even before December 1, 1974. They were already part of the group dynamics introduced to aid the getting-to-know you process since Ibalon came from diverse Paglaom fragments. The six that comprised Ibalon Batch 74-B were Fem Espinas, May Velasco, Allen Bonafe, Elsie Munoz, Jo Prades and Butch Ragragio.

All of the above can rightfully claim that they are the founders of Ibalon.

Christmas break was the time to grapple with the question of Paglaom’s fate, UP Ibalon’s recognition and how to win the allegiance and leadership of the Bicolano studentry.

UP Ibalon submitted to OSA its application for submission minutes before office closing time on the last day allowed, Jan. 15, 1975 and Dean Armando Malay signed his approval.

On Jan. 30, 1975, UP Paglaom was officially dissolved following a 2/3 vote on a 20% quorum, the requirement of the old constitution.

On Valentine’s week in 1975, UP Ibalon held its 1st Bicol Products Sale in AS Walk. It was here that the existence of the new organization was announced to the Bicolano studentry and the campaign to win their allegiance and leadership started.

UP Ibalon occupied the old “tambayan” of UP Paglaom in AS 3230. It was possible since the Bicolano studentry accepted the formation of the new organization.

In 1976, Min Paje and Jorge Sarmiento signed the peace treaty, removing the threat to Ibalon. As a sign that everything is now alright Jorge and his members applied in UP Ibalon with the agreement that they would withdraw before the end of the application process and not become members but they would play in the Sanlahi sportsfest where applicants are allowed to play.

I would always treasure the statesmanship of Jorge Sarmiento.

Afterwards, we were careful never to lose the allegiance and leadership of the Bicolano studentry so that Bicol unity in the campus will be undivided.

Until that fateful time in the early ’90s when some Ibalon leaders acquiesced to the conversion of UP Ibalon into a national-democratic (ND) organization under the umbrella of the NDF using the mantra “Poon sa poon an UP Ibalon ay sarong political organization”, which is not true.

And the subsequent breaking up of the Bicolano studentry into separate organizations began.

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