Archive for the ‘UP Paglaom’ Category

We Knew At The Very Start That UP Ibalon Cannot Be A Political Organization

December 1, 2008

by Mighty Baylon

When martial law was declared in 1972 all student organizations in UP was banned. After all, there is even a presidential decree which says that any group of three persons is an “illegal assembly”. And if this three persons talk they will even be guilty of “rumor-mongering” which is punishable by imprisonment! I even remember an incident with Nestor Raneses in the waiting shed going to Yakal Residence Hall from Molave. We intended to eat dinner in Yakal cafeteria and we were waiting for the rains to subside. There was another two students who were waiting for a bus.

Out of the rain a police patrol car came and directed us to “disperse” since they said we constituted an “illegal assembly”. We didn’t even know the two others who were sharing the waiting shed with us and we were only intent on filling our hungry stomachs without getting wet. Good we were not talking when the police car appeared.

So, then, when lighting a cigarette and you no match available, it is not healthy to say “Pasindi po (Can I have a light?) if the smokers are already in a group of two.

Up to 1974, troopers of the Metrocom would sweep at dorms and drag out “subversives”. The parking lots of the residence hall were ambush areas where residents can be simply dragged away in the night. Even students going out of the classrooms can be picked up by waiting burly men.

In 1974, chapters of the national-democratic (ND) mass organizations like the KM are being disbanded and converted into legal organizations since they were ineffective anyway under the ‘white terror’ unleashed by Marcos.

It was only in the school year 1974-75 when student organizations were again recognized by the OSA (Office of Student Affairs). But not all organizations were recognized since some are proscribed–the mass organizations of whatever persuation, the fraternities, and some particular organizations like the UP Muslim Students Association (which was founded by a firebrand named Nur Misuari) and a UP Chinese students society which is suspected of mainland China links.

To form an organization that has obvious political leanings in those days is simply purchasing a one-way ticket to Camp Crame. Student organization are targets of infiltration then by intelligence agents who pretended to be students. Even UP Ibalon experienced two attempts of this (and this partly explains the feelings of some applicants that it was too hard to get to be accepted as member of Ibalon in those days).

Worse than Crame is Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang (which produced more chills on the spine of activists). The name of Abadilla was then spoken with terror–electric wires to the genitals, an overdose of water and splints under the nails readily come to the minds of activists when that name is heard. Being beaten black and blue is considered a minor case of torture in those days (Ginulpi lang ako, pare).

But more than this danger we knew UP Ibalon can not be a political organization because if it is it cannot become the “home of Bicolanos” and we will lose our purpose in being.

When we analyzed UP Paglaom, our conclusion was that it was a social organization. Anyone is automatically a member when he or she fills up its application form and pays its membership dues. Aside from the party, it has no other major activity. And we did not want that kind of organization.

“Why not make UP Ibalon a political organization?”, Tibo David, a political, rhetorically asked.

The conclusion was that only activists and politicals will then be drawn into the organization and it is the surefire recipe for us to become isolated and the danger of other Bicol organizations sprouting will then be max. It should be understood that an outside threat from another organization hangs over our head then [See my article, “The Formation And Legacy Of UP Ibalon: A Testimony”, 11/14/08]. We knew we will then blow all chances that we will be accepted by the Bicolanos in UP as their organization if we ever become a political organization. So we knew that even converting UP Ibalon after foundation is suicidal to the organization.

It is obvious that the politicals of twenty years after 1974 have no understanding whatsoever of the realities that exist when UP Ibalon was founded. There is simply no historical basis where a political organization of Bicolanos can exist in 1974. Now, isn’t the term “political organization of Bicolanos” an oxymoron? One thing I know is we were not morons when we founded UP Ibalon. But I suspect that believing in UP Ibalon “history” that came from outside sources when the founders and seniors members of UP Ibalon are still alive is probably moronic.

The Calm Before The Storm: A UP Ibalon Saga

December 1, 2008

by Mighty Baylon

I always fancied UP students to be bright. And as bright persons I thought they will be able to sift truth from facts. After all, UP was strong in empirical research.

I was hoping the queer incident I mentioned in my last article [“One Stormy Night In August 1995: A UP Ibalon Saga”, 12/01/08] will blow away after the contentious UP Student Council election. I thought that with the founders and senior members still around and being UP students they will not be brazen enough to change UP Ibalon’s history while we are still alive (but later it turned out that I was wrong in this).

It is with hope that I reminisced that though UP Paglaom was torn asunder by the CONCOMSA (Consultative Committee on Student Affairs, a predecessor organization before the full-pledged restoration of the UP Student Council) elections in 1974, it survived in the form of UP Ibalon [See my article, “The Formation And Legacy Of UP Ibalon: A Testimony”, 11/14/08]. And UP Ibalon lived to be the organization and home of the Bicolanos in UP Diliman and this is Ibalon’s legacy.

There were no other recognized UP Bicolano organizations at that time except for UP Lawod, the organization of students coming from Masbate [See my article, “A Multitude Of Bicolano Organizations In UP Diliman: The Present Problem And The Lessons Of The Past”, 11/15/08], which I didn’t really mind because Masbateno is considered a separate language and only a minority speaks Bicol in Masbate. But my initial impression of UP Ibalon is it is a small and troubled organization (a membership roll of 23 and with debts to pay). With a UP Diliman Bicolano population estimated to be 700 I can surmise that the situation is volatile.

We were asked by the President of UP Ibalon, Gerlin Catangui, to help in their upcoming traditional high school students’ contest, the Padunungan, which will be held in Legazpi City during the semestral break. It was Gerlin’s wish that the project earn enough so that all UP Ibalon debts will be paid and all unpublished souvenir programs of the previous years will be printed and distributed. She feels it was the shame of UP Ibalon that it cannot live to its commitment and promise to the donors and sponsors.

Flushed with the success of the premier of the movie “Congo”, I tapped my UPIAA Treasurer, Dan Daz, to help them out and teach them how to launch projects with enough sponsorship. Through Dan, UP Ibalon was able to tap former sponsors in “Congo”. We also tapped and the Ibalon alumni in Albay was enthusiastic in helping them on other logistical concerns. In my recollection of the project, the Ibalon couple Kulas and Lea Sala, Mac Pavia, Dean Jun Perdigon and the late George Evangelio comes to mind as the most active of its supporters.

The project achieved its highest goal and UP Ibalon’s debts were paid and all the souvenir program backlogs were erased. I thought it would usher a new era of mutually beneficial cooperation between the resident and alumni organizations of UP Ibalon. In my analysis of the “Congo” premiere, it was obvious that the UPIAA (UP Ibalon alumni Association) needs the warm bodies the UP Ibalon can provide and UPIAA can help the resident organization in a lot of ways.

It is thus with hope and enthusiasm that the resident and alumni organizations jointly prepared for the December 1, 1995 anniversary celebrations.

But illusions were soon shattered and this just turned out to be the proverbial calm before the storm.

The Formation and Legacy of UP Ibalon:A Testimony

November 14, 2008

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.