By Elmer Ordonez
Sociologist Randy David was impressed when presiding officer Senate Juan President Ponce Enrile addressed prosecutor Rep. Raul Daza as “brod” and quickly turned to defense counsel Serafin Cuevas to address him too as “brod.” Enrile and Daza are both fraternity members (Sigma Rhoans), but Cuevas, as far as the 1952 Philippinensian shows, did not list any fraternity affiliation. If he is not a “brod” then Enrile may well have used the term as an honorific, designed perhaps to avoid any apprehension that he might be partial to the prosecution. “Brod” has been used loosely like “pare” but not normally by frat members.
UP law graduates abound in the impeachment trial, many of them fraternity members. Other than the Sigma Rhoans are members of Upsilon Sigma Phi (Senators Joker Arroyo and Francisco Pangilinan), and Alpha Phi Beta (Senators Chiz Escudero, Aquilino “Koko” Pimental, and Alan Cayetano), to name a few. I do not know the fraternity affiliations of those in the prosecution and defense panels. I am sure there are several.
As a frat man I may say something about the “brod mystique” and its provenance. At core of this mystique is pride and sense of belonging. In my time before one was mustered in the Upsilon Sigma Phi, he was required to know about its traditions like its founders (young Freemasons), its heroes and martyrs like Wenceslao Vinzons and Jose Abad Santos, and distinguished alumni in public service, its history particularly leading positions held in the student council and Philippine Collegian. The frat recruited members with leadership, writing, debating and oratorical skills, and candidates for honors. For instance, there were two summa cum laudes, Florentino Feliciano and Shen Lin, among Upsilonians from Class ’52. Some masters impressed us neophytes to say that the Upsilon was the only fraternity in UP, the rest were sororities. Gender sensitivity was unknown then but we treated the chauvinist line as a joke.
Before I joined I was told that the frat’s initiation was the toughest; no paddles then, only ingenious methods of mental and physical hazing.
When my turn came to be a “master” I never hazed any neophyte who had to introduce himself. And when I was asked to become its adviser in the early 60s, I set one condition that physical hazing be abolished. The officers balked apparently to maintain the “mystique” of being the toughest frat to get into. Today I understand physical hazing has been abolished on campus—after decades of mindless violence on hapless neophytes.
Fraternity connections have indeed played a role in politics, governance and business.
Outstanding “brods” are found in almost every area of endeavor including science, the arts, literature, media, education, music, sports, entertainment, fashion, and even the mass movement. Fraternities open to students from all colleges are most likely to make a wider range of achievement other than law– like the Upsilon Sigma Phi founded in 1918 by members of the Order of DeMolay. Its rites have Freemasonic touches. Many Upsilonians later become Freemasons or join the ruling establishment. A good number came from old dynastic or elite families–Roxas, Laurel, Yulo, Araneta etc. Hence its reputation of being a “sosyal” frat.
Fraternity brods in public service do not always see eye to eye – like SC justice Presbiterio Velasco and SC justice Antonio Carpio, both Sigma Rhoans. But not as spectacular or lethal as the struggle between Senator Ninoy Aquino and President Ferdinand Marcos, both Upsilonians.
The fraternity was divided then – from the time of the Jabidah massacre in the late sixties to Aquino’s assassination in 1983 and its aftermath. Many Upsilonians refuse to believe that it was Marcos who ordered the assassination. They hint at the “usual suspects”—a few who were interested in succeeding Marcos, said to have a terminal illness.
I remember Aquino and Marcos in a frat reunion in the late 60s at Wack Wack country club where the two protagonists were brought together to shake hands and embrace each other, muttering “brod.” To say “brod” to another is supposed to establish the fraternal ties among senior and junior fellows forged during final initiation rites. But Senator Aquino (from the same batch as mine, ’50) was unstoppable in his attacks on the President (of a pre-war batch) until his last expose of Oplan Saggitarius for the declaration of martial law in September 1972, said to be crafted by two brilliant legal minds, Sigma Rhoan Enrile and Upsilonian Marcos. The rest is history, but what a history! And many like myself did not see anything commendable in putting the whole country under a dictatorship. Here’s one instance where the “brod mystique” goes out of the window. Like what I said, the brods were divided into pro-Marcos (some enjoying the perks or largess under the “New Society”) and pro-Aquino (many joining the people’s resistance against the Marcos dictatorship).