By: Father Lito Arong'55, OMI
What is this organization called The Filipinos '55 ?
An organization is usually identified by some kind of specific objectives or lofty ideals. professional societies seek to promote intellectual pursuits within the university; fraternities try to form an exclusive and elite corps of campus personalities; sectarian groups strive to create a moral and religious atmosphere in student life; etc.
The Filipinos'55 can boast of no such pretentious purposes. To be very blunt about it The Filipinos'55 can boast of no particular purpose at all, save that which is at the heart and foundation of every human association: the satisfaction of that fundamental manly longing for good and solid camaraderie. In this sense, The Filipinos'55 is unique among student organizations in that it professes no artificial reasons for its existence.
In order to appreciate this uniqueness, let us briefly go back to its unorthodox beginnings. During the school year, 1955-56, there were at what was then called the U.P. Men's South Dormitory (now Narra Residence Hall ), nineteen men, mostly Cebuano-speaking Visayans, who for one reason or another simply got along "good and solid" with each other. They could enjoy long bull sessions- in a word, they just "click" together. At that time, they had no thoughts whatsoever of forming an organization. But whether they knew it or not, they were in fact the nineteen Original Filipinos because among themselves they had already realized the essence of what it is to be a Filipino - the spirit of man-to-man camaraderie among university men.
It was actually the next school year, 1956-57, which saw the unprecedented birth of The Filipinos'55 if, to extend the metaphor, we may speak of the previous year as witnessing its unconscious conception. For it was around that time when what started out as a big joke became the organization's official name. Someone argued that only Cebuano-speaking people are true Filipinos because the first Filipino here was a Cebuano - Lapu-Lapu. So it came to pass that the group's password became "Filipino" and the counter-password, "Lapu-Lapu."
With characteristic irony, the occasion on which the group first identified itself as The Fiipinos'55 was a tragedy. The father of one of its members suddenly met a violent death. The others in the group decided to express their condolences as one body - The Filipino Community. Then, after the final exams of that year, the group agreed to hold its official party - a stag party which they called "Slaughter the Pig". A good - sized pig was bought , slaughtered and dressed somewhere in Bulacan and then hand-carried in the bus all the way to Old Balara where it was roasted and consumed over gallons of rhum and beer.
Up until that time, not a single member of the group so much dreamed of a formal organization. They all felt that The Filipinos'55 was simple what they were - comrades in the university. No organizational structure could make that fact more real and alive than it already was. But soon the decision to formally organize was reached during the stag party. They all decided to initiate themselves into a fraternity. It was a give-and-take affair, and everybody came out of it black-and-blue but happy and glad that they were all brothers at last. The fourteen members who joined that year were added to the first batch of nineteen, and together they are now considered as the founders of the university fraternity - "The 33 original Filipinos"
It is thus, that for better or worse, The Filipinos'55 came to be.
This, then, is what constitutes the uniqueness of The Filipinos'55: it was not artificially constructed with preconceived purposes. It was rather spontaneously created as a very genuine response to a very natural need for man-to-man camaraderie among university men. The fact that The Filipinos'55 is composed mostly of Cebuano-speaking Visayans bears witness to its uninhabited lack of artificiality. For what could be more natural in Philippine culture than the tendency toward regional groups?
But The Filipinos'55 is not just a regional association, as is clear from its roll of members. Not only that, the fact that its membership cuts across other student organizations that rival one another, is a testimony to the transcendence of the human values of interpersonal friendship over narrow organizational ends. Because it is the organization that should serve the person. The human person was not created to serve an organization. It is because of this that The Filipinos'55 is what it is.
It is a symbolic that the fraternity should be The Filipinos'55. The name has no meaning at all. It is a symbol. The Filipinos'55 could just as well be any name, for the natural camaraderie among men has no name, nor can it be defined. It is lived and shared. The Filipinos'55 will live as long as men in the university feel the need for this close camaraderie-as long as men are men.
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