ne fine October afternoon, in 1933, a group of students of the UP College of Medicine; all distinguished and the cream of their respective classes; organized and established the MU SIGMA PHI, the first fraternity in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. Dr. Fernando Calderon, the first Filipino Dean of the UP College of Medicine and the first Filipino Director of the Philippine General Hospital, became the fraternity’s first Faculty Adviser.
Guided by the pillars upon which Mu Sigma Phi was built on – Brotherhood, Leadership, Scholarship and Service – the avowed aims of the Fraternity are to foment true comradeship and brotherly affection, cultivate responsible leadership advance general scholastic and cultural welfare and to inculcate and preserve an unselfish spirit of self-denying service.
On a balmy Tuesday afternoon on October 3,1933, the emptiness of the College amphitheater came to life when four members of Class 1935 entered the room. They eagerly waited for the arrival of their classmates and other male members of Classes 1936 and 1937, whom they invited for the purpose of presenting a plan to establish a new student organization– a fraternity among the medical students.
For the past months, Saturnino B. Ador-Dionisio a respected student leader together with three other classmates namely Manuel G. Baliwag, Manuel M. Ramos, and Antonio T. Unchuan have been drafting the paperwork needed to create a new student organization that would promote brotherhood, scholarship and leadership in the U.P. College of Medicine. They invited the cream-of-the-crop from each class and believed in their hearts that those who will show up will accept and join their proposal.
The tranquility of the amphitheater slowly reverberated with life as the invited members of Classes 1935, 1936, and 1937 trickled in while they enthusiastically speculated the agenda of the meeting.
The atmosphere was filled with fervor but silence filled the room once again as soon as Baliwag started to introduce Ador-Dionisio who subsequently presented the proposal carefully penned by Ramos and Unchuan.
The presentation was well prepared and straightforward. It was presented in an engaging and appealing pace. Everyone listened intently. Questions were asked and answered. The medical students glanced among each other with evident and inconspicuous nods of approval. One asked how this organization will be called. Ramos stepped forward beside Ador-Dionisio and proudly announced as if on cue– “Medical Students’ Fraternity.” Baliwag picked a piece of chalk and turned to the blackboard and with bold strokes scribbled the following Greek letters– ΜΣΦ.
History was carved from a blank stone on that fateful afternoon in October 1933…
Saturnino Ador-Dionisio placed a piece of paper on a table and requested the assembly of students to sign if they wished to be part of the group who will constitute the proposed organization. Thirty students belonging to Classes 1935, 1936 and 1937 committed to join. A lot of requirements had to be accomplished and submitted to the Committee on Student Organizations and Activities of the University. New organizations were required to draft a preamble, aims and principles, and by-laws. A coat-of-arms had to be designed. A set of officers had to be elected. With fervent zeal, the students drafted what needed to be accomplished. The last thing they needed was an endorsement from the College Dean.
Soon after accomplishing the required papers by the University for the formal recognition of new student organizations, the elected officers of the Medical Students’ Fraternity submitted a letter to Dean Calderon. It was a courteous request for an endorsement, and an expression of gratitude for the help he has extended to their early process of organization. It was also an invitation for him to be their pioneering adviser.
With seventeen years of experience as a dean, nobody can better guide the founding brothers of the Fraternity during its fledgling years. Due to his failing health however he would transfer the task to Professor Agerico B.M. Sison in 1934. Until Calderon’s formal retirement in 1936, he still took active participation in the Fraternity’s affairs and persistently reminded the founding brothers to nurture and cradle the culture of excellence among its members.
A copy of the letter addressed to Dean Fernando Calderon requesting for his endorsement and invitation to be the pioneering adviser of the Fraternity kept in the archives.
The Philippine Collegian, the official weekly student publication of the University of the Philippines made her debut in 1922 (first issue, at the background) with Wenceslao Vinzons as its first editor-in-chief. Since then, it has become a symbol for the academic freedom, critical thinking, and journalistic integrity and excellence of the UP students.
The Mu Sigma Phi was officially recognized by the University when it was featured in the Collegian on November 24, 1933, as being the first and only medical students’ fraternity of the UP College of Medicine.
THE FOUNDING FATHERS
Sixteen members of Class 1935 and seven each from Classes 1936 and 1937 bonded together to commit themselves to the initial invitation to organize the first ever medical students’ fraternity in the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines. Translated into the Greek letter words Mu Sigma Phi, it would be the first of such an organization in the country and even in Asia. With much pride in what they have initiated they decided to document their initial collective sense of brotherhood with a group picture, which they hoped would be an echo for posterity.
First Row (left to right): Feliciano CAPARAS, Eusebio GARCIA, Jose CLARIN, Florencio BAUTISTA, Constantino MANAHAN, Manuel BALIWAG, Eriberto AGUILAR, Jose ANICETO, Cesar BUENDIA. Second Row (left to right): Gregorio LIM, William VALDEZ, Manuel MAGBOO, Jaime RIVERA, Amado HALILI, Antonio UNCHUAN, Manuel RAMOS, Eduardo RELLIN, Arsenio REGALA. Third Row (left to right): Elpidio DOSADO, Cecilio CRUZ, Saturnino ADOR-DIONISIO, Edgardo REGALADO, Jovito FRANCISCO, Conrado AGUILA, Luciano LUCZON. Standing (left to right): Ralph POSUNCUY, Efrain MONTEMAYOR, Carlos YAMBAO, Loreto CASTRO, Andres ANGARA.
Within a year after the organization of the Mu Sigma Phi, more students from Class 1935, Class 1936, Class 1937 and the incoming first year Class of 1938 were attracted to the inimitability of the newly created medical students’ organization. The initial personalities of the core group who organized the Fraternity shattered the misconception of elitism. Other students from these classes saw the altruism of what they espoused – brotherhood, leadership, scholarship and service.
Second known existing group picture of the Mu Sigma Phi with the newly initiated and inducted members– the first of what would be the traditional “Men in White” group photograph of the Fraternity members
Bundoc, Rafael et. al. A priori ad infinitum. Manila, Philippines: Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity, 2008. Print.