The TAU’s Story: A Past Revisited

(Lifted from Bro. Clemente Santiago “Jun” Pablo, Jr.’s article entitled, “The TAU’s Story: A Past Revisited” first published in the 1998 Golden Edition and re-published in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Double Edition of The Common Voice.)

Far Eastern University

(FEU in 1945)

Imagine a ravaged and battered woman. Abandoned. Emaciated from famine. Terrified of an uncertain future.

Far Eastern University

(FEU in 1956)

Manila was more than that when the young Gregoio S. Turiano reached its confines immediately following the liberation. The war was over but its wide canvass was still filled with grim and gripping reminders of man’s vileness. Order and rehabilitation were visibly the government’s greatest challenges.

Far Eastern University 1966

(FEU in 1966)

With all the dreary sights around and the economy in shambles, the young Gregorio S. Turiano still seemed unperturbed. He smiled like it is Sunday morning. He was buoyed with the idea of entering a law school. But then, he needed a job. His meager budget then can only sustain him for a few weeks. He comforted himself that in case fate would be unkind, he would just sell newspapers, a job well known to him as a young boy from Iriga City. However, luck was on his side. After an impressive display of his typing skills, gained from his job as a dispatcher, he was given a job at the Quezon City Hall.

Gregorio Turiano, Founder and 1st Grand Chancellor, Tau Kappa Phi FEU Law FraternityIn the Far Eastern University (FEU) where he enrolled in law school, he gained fast the respect and admiration of his classmates. He was a consistent class president and became a captain of the Institute of Law’s debating team.

During that time, there exists a fraternity that established a chapter in the Institute of Law; however it is composed mostly of la students coming from and fully supported by their rich families. These elite practically controlled all social, political and extra curricular activities, hence, the poor self-supporting students who comprised the majority of the then law students decided to do something about it.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

There is a need fro the creation of an association which would embody the ideals and needs responsive to the greater mass of common students who have been shut out of the elitist and exclusivistic student societies of the Far Eastern University, thus, with the help of 17 other pioneers, Gregorio S. Turiano officially founded THE COMMONER’S FRATERNITY in 1948 and the young Gregorio S. Turiano was elected as the first Grand Chancellor. It became TAU KAPPA PHI because Greek letters were substituted to each starting letter of the three words.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The 17 pioneers include Bro. Jaime Alegre, Bro. Gregorio Abad, Bro. Francisco Llamas, Bro. Domin de Lara, bro. Peping Felipe, Bro. Roy Andal, Bro. Conrado Crucillo, G.C. Mama Sinsuat, bro. Andres Maglipon, bro. Valerio Peralta, Bro. Cesar Y. lzona, Bro. Moreto Encarnacion, Bro. Antonio Reyes, G.C. Isaac Eceta and Bro. Leonardo Alcid.

Datu Mama Sinsuat

(Datu Mama Sinsuat, a founding father and grand chancellor, was tapped by then Secretary of National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile in negotiating for peace in Muslin Mindanao.)

Our pioneers, as described by Bro. Jose De Ocampo, were the disinherited and the dispossessed. The motivation for the birth of our fraternity was “resentment of, and rebellion against, the then existing order which favored the affluent, the privileged and the elite.”

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

(Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on his speaking engagement in one of Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity’s Founding Anniversary.)

Thus, the reasons behind and conditions surrounding its establishment guaranteed it with all kinds of distress and challenges especially from its haughty contemporaries. In  the eyes and shoulders of the other law students then were clearly etched: You shall fail. All thought that its initial adherents would quickly dwindle. And like a leaf, the organization will wither away. Even the pioneers had some misgivings. They felt uneasy and were filled with doubts with their action.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

(Photo ops with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile)

But our pioneers remain bold and undaunted. Their apprehensions and fears were  overcome when they slowly gained acceptance by the administration and a few students. G.C. Turiano knew it all along. It can be done! As he said, “How could we not?” We were the brightest students. Most of us were even working.”

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

(With FEU Law Dean and later Senator Neptali Gonzales, Jr.)

With their impressive scholastic standing and excellent orators and debaters, they plodded through the narrow paths for their existence. Their unity and united defiance defied the people and the times. And they knew the only way they can sustain the organization is by earning the respect of everyone. In this vein, the policy was born: only neophytes with a weighted academic average of 80% and above were accepted. Once admitted to the fraternity, every member was required to maintain the prescribed grade until graduation. Those who failed were dropped from the roster of members. Further, certain moral standards were also prescribed.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

(With FEU Law Dean Jovito Salonga)

In the following year, their acceptance was complete. Eventually, even some of the members of the rival fraternity transferred to the fold of the Tau Kappa Phi. A good battle was waged and won. The only difficulties then that remained were the securing of places for meetings and the screening of many applicants. Their initiation rites were held inside the FEU campus. In the first stage, neophytes were asked questions on law subjects and his moral background. If the applicant failed in this examination, he is automatically disqualified. If he passed, the psychological test was applied. The usual ordeal was that the neophyte is blindfolded and is made to listen to the pleading cries of other neophytes ordered to simulate outbursts of pain and suffering. The neophytes, after reaching the edge of the top of the building or the top floors of the Institute of Law, were blindfolded and ordered to jump not knowing that they are no longer at the edge of the building or at the top floor. Some remembered seeing neophytes to have pissed on their pants after so much fright and shock during this stage.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU LawG.C. Turiano fondly remembered an incident where a neophyte was commanded to deliver a gumamela flower to a pretty lady in a dormitory with an accompanying script. The girl exclaimed that she did not have a boyfriend, threw the flower and berated the neophyte for his impertinence. He left without a word. When he was already a full-fledged member, he visited the girl ostensibly to apologize. As a smooth-talking future lawyer, this Tau Kappan member did not apologize. Later in a fraternity social, he introduced the lady as his girlfriend. Since then, they surmised that membership in the Tau Kappa Phi can be a quick way to a woman’s heart. It also signalled the staging of serenades at the ladies’ dorms at the university belt. If a lady being courted by a brother was inclined to disapprove of him or that if chances of a brod were not as good as those of the other suitors of a lady, lovely serenades were applied either for approval or to up one’s chances. There were no other groups or individuals who serenaded the dormitories during those times. Thus, when kundiman and love songs were sang in husky yet harmonious renditions in front of a dorm, the residents inside and of those nearby instantly knew that it was the Tau Kappans, again. There could be no other serenades as dense and as daring as our brods in the late forties and early fifties.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity Old Photos6

Not much was told about the 1950s, but it was shred by Bro. Judge Candido Villanueva that the Tau Kappan traditions were intact when he became a member. When he was initiated, the toughest test was in memorizing the names  of “masters.” The same psychological ordeals were implemented plus the neophytes were made to say the names loudly and repeatedly of all those who attended to his acceptance. It was told that three great “terrors” were well-remembered by neophytes namely GCs Yap, Ambal and Santiago.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

Generally, this era can be characterized as a period where the brods’ attention was only focused in getting high grades and early graduation. Campus politics was not a priority, but the recruitment continued on an average scale.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The 1960s was different. G.C. Pete Castillo recounted that at the time he entered the Tau Kappa, he was the only one of two who survived a five-day initiation conducted by the brods. Thus, when he became the Grand Chancellor, he reverted to the old method of acceptance. They shunned from student politics and other activities in the campus but not in the oratorical and debating teams where the brods excelled.

FQS 1970 bulatlat.com

(The First Quarter Storm. Photo courtesy of bulatlat.com)

In the 1970s, precedents were set. Bro. Ciriaco V. Taguinin became the Grand Chancellor for three (3) years. In 1972, he was re-elected without any opposition. Then, he was given a blanket authority to just appoint all the other officers upon motion by Bro. Florante Dris which was approved by the brods unanimously. To please all, he appointed two brods for each position. With the proclamation of Martial Law, all assemblies and organizations were banned. Clandestine meetings were thus held. Recruitment suffered. It was agreed that G.C. Taguinin’s leadership be extended. The next year, the Silver Jubilee was held and the expenses were mainly shouldered by G.C. Taguinin out of the proceeds of a sale of land in his hometown. So great was the devotion of G.C. Taguinin that he, himself, was not able to finish his studies.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The next year, the three-year reign of G.C. Taguinin ended with the election of G.C. Nap Espiritu. He was also unopposed. Bro. Rene Pagapong sent shivers among its inductees because of his broad shoulders and bulging stomach. Psychological tests remained the main course in the fraternity’s ritual of acceptance.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The new batch of officers revitalized the fraternity with greater cohesiveness and more time in attending to the recruitment of new members. Closer ties were also developed with the professors of the Institute. Not one brod got a failing grade during G.C. Espiritu’s chancellorship. It was also said that whenever the brods would want the classes to be suspended, each one of the brods would just invite some professors for a drink. All campus activities were controlled and revolved within the Tau Kappa Phi’s plans and programs.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

With the remarkable consolidation that was staged in the 1970s, it was natural to expect that the 1980s be the peak of the Tau kappa Phi’s dominance. G.C. Garing, the back-to-back oratorical champion of the university during the time of Dean Neptali Gonzales, served as the first Grand Chancellor for this era. By 1985, popular election and representation were restored mainly through the efforts of G.C. Sammy Divina and President Danny Cunanan. Not only did our dominance in the student council elections maintain year after year but the membership of the fraternity also swelled tremendously.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

This era also saw the emergence of a new breed of leaders. G.C. Divina described it as “the decade wherein the Grand Chancellors were characterized by a high political consciousness and a large following among its members. Thus, during the time of G.C. Barrameda, a “Kapihan sa Morayta” was even held were political personalities and legal luminaries were invited. Further, the Lex Forum was established by G.C. Divina. The Tau Kappa Phi’s number, at one time, reached a record of 165 resident brods, with G.C. Caloy Borromeo recruiting twenty five (25) neophytes in one speaking engagement. G.C. Nestor Jimenez also revived during this period the fraternity’s publication, The Common Voice. But this was also the time when the “longest day” ordeal was introduced. To this day, it is still being implemented even with the enactment of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

In the 1990s, Grand Chancellors emphasized the importance of the fraternity’s existence and that its membership can only be maintained if the brods hold on to their dominance in campus politics, in the academics and even in sports. It was instilled among the resident brods that they were duty-bound to preserve the good name and reputation of the organization. And never to relinquish the seat of power that brods in the 1980s had tenaciously and commandingly held.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The victory of Bro. Atty. Roel canobas in the Student Council Presidency and by Bro. Amante Liberato the following year was thus predictable. Brods were effectively mobilized for the campaign period up to the time of the election in full attendance. Such feat was, however, not repeated in 1995 when bro. Atty. Manny Sandicho lost by only eight (8) votes. At that time, brods who chose not to vote were thirteen (13). It was a bitter defeat, a lesson that was handed down year after year during election time to ensure that all brods are present in the exercise. For G.C. Raymond De Lemos, a political strategist of the fraternity, it was also a personal defeat. He vowed that never again shall he endure the pain and agony of losing. The next year, G.C. Joel Villanueva regained the much coveted post. He was succeeded by G.C. Winfred “Yags” Bartolome and in 1998, it was Bro. Atty. Jaime “Jimmy” Umlas winning by a margin of twelve (12) votes.

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The 90s is also especially remembered because of Bro. Atty. Amante Liberato’s coming up as the fifth place in the 1996 Bar Examinations. It was in 1997 that a staunch campaign against the proposed policies (maintenance of a quality point index and maximum residency rule) of the new administration officials in the Institute of Law was launched by G.C. Winfred “Yags” Bartolome, with the strong backing from the fraternity, against Dean Andres Bautista, the then newly appointed Dean of the Institute of Law. A series of consultations and petition-signing were conducted. The present administration then was forced to call a dialogue with the studentry to stymie the growing restlessness of the law students.

 Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

On the same year, after the 1997 Bar Operations, G.C. Engel Rey M. Abalos resigned as Grand Chancellor for religious reasons. G.C. Magno Belmi took over. It was already November then, less than five months to the holding of the 50th Golden Anniversary of the fraternity. G.C. Belmi knew the tremendous task that lied ahead and the grandness of the year. With a hands-on style of leadership, simple planning and all-around visibility in the committees created for the holding of the momentous occasion, G.C. Belmi impressed on every resident member the importance of everyone’s share in the overall task of making a successful and memorable celebration of the Tau Kappa Phi’s 50th Year Anniversary. He tried it all: from delivery boy in the solicitations to being a travelling buddy in visits made to alumni brothers, be it in the metropolis or in the provinces. 

Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity FEU Law

The Far Eastern Law Review, after a three-year hiatus, came out in 1998. Brods were proud that at the helm of the editorial board was also a Tau Kappan, the only working student in the group, Bro. Alexis Escobedo and Bro. Almiro Amante.

about-us-12

(Brother Sandiganbayan Justice Roland Jurado visiting the Tau Kappa Phi Fraternity Bar Operations site.)

Looking back, we can fairly state that we had grown steadily and stronger through the years. We never failed the dreams and goals of our founding fathers. The Tau Kappans remained true to their fraternal creed and worth as noble men. G.C. Turiano left a lasting gift to the Far Eastern University – Institute of Law: the Tau Kappan Legacy. In his words, it was “a seed that I planted not knowing that it will become a robust tree someday.” 

About our founding fathers:

1. G.C. Gregorio S. Turiano – became a city judge of Iriga City

2. Bro. Jaime Alegre – became a judge in Vinzons, Camarines Norte

3. Bro. Gregorio Abad – became an ambassador to Australia and New Zealand

4. Bro. Francisco Llamas – became a Pasay City judge

5. Bro. Domin de Lara – became a partner of Quasha Law Office

6. Bro. Peping Felipe – he was with the Development Bank of the Philippines

7. Bro. Roy Andal – was an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

8. Bro. Conrado Crucillo – was with the National Power Corporation

9. G.C. Mama Sinsuat – was the President of Muslim Directorate for several times and became a commissioner of the Commission on National Integration

10. Bro. Andres Maglipon

11. Bro. Valerio Peralta – was the Counsel of the Magsaysays in Zambales. He became well-known for his handling of Barretto vs. Magsaysay, People vs. Mallorca (a precedent) and People vs. Pizarro

12. Bro. Cesar Y. Alzona – the one who made our fraternity seal

13. Bro. Moreno Encarnacion – the owner of Batu-Bato Resort in Pansol, Laguna

14. Bro. Antonio Reyes –

15. G.C. Isaac Eceta – became the second Grand Chancellor

16. Bro. Leonardo Alcid

Other pioneer names in the past issue of The Common Voice based on interviews were Bros. Gabriel Valle, Justice Mama Busran and Quirino Catral.