One Stormy Night In August 1995:A UP Ibalon Saga

by

by Mighty Baylon


One very stormy night (there was a typhoon signal) in late August 1995, I was a little annoyed by an insistent phone call. I was busy packing my things for my 12 o’clock midnight SuperFerry trip back home to Mindanao and Cainta was a long way from the North Harbor. I worried that I would find it difficult to get a taxi ride with flash floods being broadcast. That was the reason I wanted to leave early.

The caller was a dear friend. To my surprise he was asking me to postpone my trip and attend a “special meeting” of the resident members. I wondered with irritation what very important topic needs to be discussed in the dead of a stormy night that warrants my presence in the resident organization. And to think I don’t normally show myself for their meetings or drop by in their tambayan.

“Please. The organization needs you”. That began to change my mind. As the founder I normally cannot turn down appeals by my organization.

There was no time to call SuperFerry. Usually their phones are swamped by calls when a ship is about to depart. I thought, “Okey, I will just take the ‘No-show’ charge”.

I didn’t know it then that I was about to embark on a journey of intrigue and struggle.

By the time I showed myself up in the old Drugstore in Balara my pants were soaked up to the knees even though I was using an umbrella and a jacket. I asked my friend, “What’s up?”. No, he won’t give me any details. I began to suspect that it was not a normal meeting. All I heard was “Board of Directors Plus”.

We took a taxi till we came to a small apartment in Balara. There were about 20 people present and I knew the Ibalon BOD consists of only 12 officers. Scanning them I knew I was among the members of the UG group in Ibalon.

The place was jampacked and the meeting began as soon as I arrived. Somebody, not a board member, began, “Aram man kan gabos na an Ibalon, poon sa poon, ay sarong political organization” (Everybody knows that Ibalon, right from the very start, is a political organization). I can scarcely believe my ears. Here it is, the very concept we rejected when we founded the organization. We knew even then that Ibalon cannot be a political or even a semi-political organization if it wants to be a home of the Bicolanos in UP Diliman.

“Dahil political organization man kita dapat magbale kita sa SAMASA” (Since we are a political organization we must join SAMASA). But he was referring to a particular faction of the SAMASA. And most of the BOD members don’t want to join either SAMASA factions so that Ibalon won’t be involved in the messy split of the national-democratic movement going on in the campus.

It now dawned on me why they invited me to this meeting. As the organization’s founder, they were expecting my crucial “imprimatur” to a scheme. They wanted to override all opposition with that (false) mantra of “pol-org”.

I was the first one asked for a reaction. “Where did you get the idea that Ibalon is a political organization?”, I asked them. “We rejected that at the very start and we defined Ibalon to be a varsitarian”.

I continued, “If anyone tried to establish a pol-org in 1974, when ‘white terror’ reigned in the campus and recognition of some organizations has just began, they would certainly ended up in Camp Crame. In fact, ND mass organizations like KM were being converted then into legal organizations”. I added, “Until 1974, residents of dormitories are still being dragged out by military men in the middle of the night and some students are arrested after stepping out of classrooms”.

Looking at their surprised but ashen faces I realized that my comment was the least they expected me to make. I was not out to defeat a scheme I was not privy to; I was only trying to stand for the truth and for the correct version of Ibalon history.

The meeting ended right there and only some lame talk remained. My optimistic side was thinking, “I hope that will be the end of it” but my pessimistic side was also saying, “This is just the beginning. Their political minders won’t take it sitting down”.

I reported the incident to the UP Ibalon Alumni Association Board of Directors, which I headed.

When I took a different ship a few days later, I cannot erase from my mind that queer episode. With chill in my spine I cannot shake the feeling I am being sucked in an intrigue that I feel will impact UP Ibalon and my life.

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