56th Anniversary Shapes Fraternity’s New Role As A Partner Of The Community

by Elpidio R. Estioko

To exist as a potent organization in this modern times, Greek-letter fraternities need to find a way to be relevant!

This was the position of the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity Alumni Association, Inc. (BROFAAI) during its 56th-anniversary celebration held simultaneously last Sunday, October 10, 2021, in Las Vegas and via Zoom.

Hawaii-based Ireneo “Jun” Gappe, a member of the mother chapter University of the Philippines, who attended the Las Vegas gathering, said it is high time the Greek-letter fraternity needs to focus on things that will make the organization relevant to the community.

The 38 members who attended the Zoom meeting hosted by Pioneer brother Bert Cabardo and Egay Sevilla, both from the mother chapter University of the Philippines and 18 members who attended the celebration in person in Las Vegas believe that the fraternity needs to redefine its existence and be relevant to the present times.

The alumni group heeded the messages delivered by Pioneer member Oscar David, Canada, who spoke on behalf of the overseas members and Pioneer member Ed Gonzalez, Philippines, on behalf of the members in the Philippines; to redefine the group’s existence and make it relevant to this date.

As a non-profit organization, the group will revive its scholarship program in all 15-chapter colleges and universities in the Philippines. The scholarship program started at Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2005 with Jo Estioco as the first scholar. Now married, Jo Estioco Panday, is a successful professional based in Singapore.

The University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-Diliman) was the mother chapter founded in 1965 and it spread in various universities and colleges in Metro Manila. The chapters include Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU), Roosevelt College, University of the East (UE). Philippine College of Commerce (PCC now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – PUP), Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU), University of Santo Thomas (UST), Philippine College of Criminology (PCCr); Adamson University, FEATI, Marikina College, Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA); and the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI).

Attendees came from various places in the world such as London, Australia, Canada, California, Singapore, Hawaii, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Georgia, and the Philippines.

After the messages by David and Gonzalez, a two-part presentation was presented showing activities (trivia/memory lanes/pictures) of individual chapters and a nostalgic presentation for the members to remember. The Zoom meeting lasted for four hours using the Zoom account of Pioneer Brod Bert Cabardo from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

As agreed, a small group of conveners representing the various chapters will meet and prepare the working papers to be used during the next Zoom meeting. The focus for the next Zoom meeting will be the scholarship program and the mechanics of the program.

The BRO Zoom meeting participants from the Philippines are: Feliciano Caringal, Jr.,FEATI; Aaron Cervantes, FEATI; Edilberto Cabardo, UP (Pioneer); Eduardo Gonzalez, UP (Pioneer); Jose Galo Isada, UP (Pioneer); Nick Jimeno, UP; Bobby Genio, UP/UE; Edgar Sevilla, UP; Joey Reyes, UP; Narciso Adraneda, UP; Rolly Tungpalan, UP; Raul Basa, UP; Miguel Soledad, UP; Nestor Mondok, UP; Edwin Cutiongco, UP; Romy and Beth Serrano, Mapua; Gerry Marcelo, Roosevelt/NU; Redie Villafuerte, Roosevelt; Jimmie Jimenez, UE; Joey Aspiras, UE; Zoilo Belano, Mapua; Bong Garcia, Mapua; Rose Casasola, Mapua; Joseph Crisostomo Vallar, Mapua; Romy and Beth Serrano, Mapua; Gerry Marcelo, Roosevelt/NU; Redie Villafuerte; Jimmie Jimenez, UE; and Joey Aspiras, UE;

Overseas – Oscar David UP (Pioneer), Vancouver, Canada; Elpidio Estioko, UP, California, USA; Bob Bantolo, UP, California, USA; Joven Gregorio, UP, Sydney, Australia; Raul Bautista, UP, Toronto, Canada; Gerry Cabanero, UP, London, England; Ireneo Gappe, Jr., UP, Hawaii, USA; Juanito and Velvalane Campos, UE, Georgia, USA; Joanna Estioco Panday, Singapore; Erick Salenga, Mapua, Sydney, Australia; and David Eusebio, Jr. Mapua, Philadelphia, USA;

Those who attended the Las Vegas ceremonies from UP are Rudy Saez (Pioneer); Willie Osorio (Pioneer); Jun Gappe; Terry Chentes; Bob Bantolo; Onofre de Jesus (OJ); Roe Tamaray; Efren Sotto; and Boyet Barza.

The MIT brods who attended the Las Vegas gathering were led by UP Pioneer and founder of MIT chapter Ed Ramos. Jojo Cruz, Ben Ang; Ding Ahyong; Gary Cuna; Romy Ignacio; Ed Jabson; Jesse Cuison; and Vergel Regencia.

The activities in the Las Vegas celebration were emceed by Jun Gappe, UP, from Hawaii and Pioneers in attendance Willie Osorio, Ed Ramos, and Rody Saez talked about how the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity was conceived and founded.

This brings me back to my college days at the UP-Diliman campus. During those days, fraternities were the training grounds for leaders in the community. Fraternity members felt they were truly men on campus transitioning to society.

Maybe it was that I felt like I could control the course and direction of my own destiny. I had become truly self-reliant for the first time in my life.

But the reason I was able to succeed was that I had a brotherhood that was also working to create their vocation on their own terms. These men helped me, believed in me, and made me stronger than I was standing alone. I joined the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity in 1966 and met and rubbed elbows with other awesome men to do cool things.

The Pledge of Commitment was recited by the members, which goes this way: “Fraternal life is a constant affirmation of brotherhood among men, an unending assertion of collective worth; For this reason, living with men possessed with the same ideals, on this earth must be seen as a continuing movement toward some common goal, toward whatever talent and the thousand possibilities that each man can blend to give life a more meaningful definition.”

The Greek letter Beta Rho Omega Fraternity, Inc., with a rejuvenating spirit after the 56th anniversary celebration, will be a renewed non-profit organization caring for the youth, the community, and each other from here on. The scholarship program in all chapters is the launching program of the fraternity towards its new role as a partner in community development!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO, UP-Diliman Mother Chapter, Triumvirate, Batch ’66, was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

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