Tensions were intense between the victors of World War II: the allies of the United States, and the Communist Bloc, led by the Soviet Union. This eventually led to the Cold War. Focal points of this con杍ict were the Korean War, which witnessed the partition of Korea into North and South; the Vietnam War; and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961, in which America faced an almost tangible threat to its security at the hands of the Communist bloc. All fields of endeavor, from space exploration to the discovery of new elements in the periodic table, were all tainted by this conflict between capitalist and communist ideologies. Meanwhile in Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of the British Gold Coast proclaimed the independence of a new country: Ghana. This started a cascade of independence proclamations from virtually all of Africa. In keeping with this spirit of freedom, the Civil Rights Movement in America was gaining ground, its growth being strengthened by the Rev. Martin Luther King. Back at home, the Quirino presidency was busy giving birth to an industrialized Philippines, a struggle which was given more popularity during the ascent of immensely popular Ramon Magsaysay.

 

Brotherhood has its own excuses which, unfortunately, other organizations cannot so readily avail of.
If that sounds rather smug and self-righteous, it is probably because we have grown used to the idea that everything must be done for some “worthy cause.” And so we expect balls and dances to be dedicated to some charitable project in an attempt to exorcise the demons of frivolity in us. Some curious malady peculiar to our times has prevented us from drinking and dancing as recklessly and as guiltlessly as we can. But long before democracy and socialism claimed our minds for their own, when the country was still emerging from the nightmares of war, when the fever of repair and reconstruction raged not only in the gutted hospital walls but also in the tattered souls of the people, the natives of the UP College of Medicine knew exactly what to do after the war. They danced and they drank. Recklessly and guiltlessly. And so did the Phis.

The decade dawned upon a hospital struggling with the enormous post-war problems of repair, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. Existing hospital equipment were inventoried (the first time ever) by the Property Supply Office. The shattered edifices had to rebuilt. Plumbing and electrical facilities had to be restored. The hospital itself was in shambles and patients and personnel had to be relocated to clear the bedlam.. With characteristic aplomb, everybody, from PGH Director to attendant, rose the occasion. Others who met the challenge with equal fervor included Clemente O. Sta. Romana who topped the 1952 board with a grade of 86.06%, Juan Belisario, Jr., president of the third year class, who captained the committee for the Medical Ball of 1952, and Ramon Abarquez, Jr., poor ER intern who left in the middle of that same Ball upon being paged.

On January 12, 1952, the Phi Kappa Mu sponsored a fraternity ball at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. The roster of prominent guests was headed by Secretary of Health Juan Salcedo, Jr., Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson, and Colonel Benvenuto Dino. Pablo Virtuoso, Sylvia La Torre, Pancho Magalona, and Katy dela Cruz, accompanied by the bands of the Philippine Constabulary and the Malacañang Guards, entertained the well-dressed crowd. The fifteen- member ladies committee was headed by Miss Lita Ganzon and included Miss Baby Villareal, Miss Philippines 1951. The ball was a huge success and only a few people who were caught in the joyous delirium ever remembered that the ball was supposed to be “for the rehabilitation of PGH wards.”

The four magnificent murals that adorn the PGH lobby were unveiled on May 12, 1953, Hospital Day. Their then anonymous creator: Carlos V. Francisco. Leland Villadolid was president of the clerks’ class. Pathology just hauled in a prize catch in the person of Dr. Lorenzo Katigbak. Dr. Florentino Herrera, Jr., a non-believer in metaphors, brought home a real marlin--Isthioporus Orientalis--9 ft. by 5 ft. by 3/16 in. caught southeast of Cabra Island in a fishing trip with Drs. Rotor, V. Reyes, Apelo, and Sarmiento.

The Pandora Tennis Clubs bristled with such bellicose teams as the Siga-Siga with the late dean ABM Sison, Drs. Jose Barcelona, and Ambrosio Tangco, “Brute Force” with Drs. Quintin Gomez and Jose Villanueva, Jr., and the “Maniacs” with Drs. Florentino Herrera, Jr., and R. Apelo. Competition was furious and in 1954, Dr. Barcelona was able to post a 6-1, and Dr. Herrera, a 6-0, win over their opponents. Drs. Tangco and Gomez, respectively. Benigno Aldana, Jr. laid claim to a greater victory by placing second in the 1954 board exam, after graduating cum laude.

Brotherhood has its own peculiar excuses. One of them is loneliness. The instinct to belong is primal; the fear of solitude is often overwhelming. And for all the baleful and bull-headed individualists who laid claim to the appellation, “Phi,” brotherhood still stands as an inscrutable proof of the terrifying power of loneliness, driving men to huddle together in search of each other’s warmth.

Fraternity initiations were suspended on June 21, 1957 for alleged irregularities. The investigating committee later relented when no formal complaints were lodged by the aggrieved parties, when physical examination of the neophytes showed nothing more than scratches and occasional bruises, and when fraternity leaders pledged anew to uphold the university rules governing initiations. The Phi inducted twenty-five new brods on June 23, 1957, among them being future 1961 SE Reginaldo Picache. Florante Gonzaga was Medical Student Council prexy; Salvador Salceda was vice. The former was also president of the interns’ class; the latter, of the clerks. Augusto Abela was president of the juniors, and later, member of the University Student Council. Alfredo T. Ramirez was elected to the Student Council Board with 218 votes; he became Superior Exemplar in 1960 and graduated at the top of the class in 1961. Along the way, he picked up the Rookie of Year award when the PGH residents captured the Inter-Hospital Basketball Tournament crown. His teammates included German Castillo, Richard Tiongco, and Antonio Lahoz. Quintin Kintanar won the college chess tournament in 1957. He was to garner the Burke Award for Cardiology in 1961.

The statue of medicine triumphing over death, donated by class ‘33 installed in front of the College in 1958. Clemente Gatmaitan, Jr., the Superior Exemplar, topped the board that year with a grade of 90.0%.

Ritual is another. We are all ceremonial creatures who define who we are by the rituals of religion and of society. But the more we pretend to be rational and scientific, the more our rituals lose their primeval power to define, to confirm and to recognize our individual worths. Is it surprising, therefore, that a medical student, after devoting nearly twenty years of his life to the classroom, should ache all the more for these the half-forgotten rites of passage? Is it any wonder then that the ceremony of initiation, for all its ill repute, has never failed to exert a tantalizing fascination on neophytes? Here is where manhood, bereft of the sexual ambiguities of this age, is publicly confirmed. Here is the terrible unknown that defines. Here is the madness that justifies. That the fraternity took long to recognize the legitimate need for sister organization is proof of how rites of passage had consummately satisfied this need to be defined, to be justified.
And because the fraternity was able to satisfy these needs so completely, it became, in a sense, a perfect organization, fully developed and sufficient unto itself as the day it was born. To speak of a Phi History in a biographical evolutionary sense, hence does disservice to its nature. The needs that impelled its birth are basic. They are eternal and unchanging as human nature. Why should not the fraternity itself be largely so?

And so from still extant sources and from reminiscences of alumni brods, we look for projects and charitable activities that the Phi undertook. Indeed, we find a few. But the overriding preoccupation was to celebrate brotherhood and to celebrate it well. In each initiation and in each drinking spree and in each fraternity ball. War might have precluded the unbridled and undiluted celebrations of brotherhood. But the collective consciousness of an organization reconciled to the idea that it existed primarily for itself alone was kept alive.

PGH acquired the blood bank in 1959. It was donated by the WHO-UNICEF. The cancer ward was formally opened by Dr. Jose Barcelona, then acting PGH Director. Fortune and men’s eyes continued to favor the hospital. President Garcia assured UPMAS and the UP-PGH medical society of his whole-hearted support “to make PGH not only one of the best but the best hospital in the country and help it regain tits pre-war prestige.” Juanito Billote placed sixth in the 1959 board with a grade of 84.25%. Dr. Crisostomo Arcilla won the UP-PGH inter-resident table tennis tournament. Benigno Agbayani was Superior Exemplar. On March 13, 1959, the Phi honored its graduating members, Felipe Sese, Jose Villalobos, Jr., Roberto Dator, and Rudy Santos, with a dance party at Wally Cruz’s residence.

The prodigal parties continued. The annual fraternity ball and the induction party became major regular events of Phi life. The fraternity balls were usually gaudier. The 1955 ball was held at the Jai-Alai Skyroom. The Silver Jubilee Ball in 1958, under the exemplarship of Felipe Sese, was held at the Winter Garden of the Manila Hotel. The alumni committee was chaired by Dr. Antonio Caniza. On January 8, 1961, a grand reunion ball at the Skyroom was held to honor
Drs. Jose Barcelona, the PGH Director, Luis F. Torres, Jr., Florentino Herrera, Jr., Conrado Dayrit, and Benjamin Canlas, Jr.. On November 29 of the same year, Phis and their partners filled the Petal Room of the Manila Hotel in the traditional fraternity ball. Jam Sessions I and II, actually dance parties, with live combo music, were sponsored in 1958 and in 1959.

It was only later, as earlier intimated, that the pressures of democratic notions awakened the fraternity to more altruistic courses of action and imparted to it an orientation that was decidedly socio-political. But for the third decade of Phi, we still note a few activities that departed from the usual
dances.

On December, 1952, the Phi organized a conference with Dr. Lalla Iverson, visiting professor of pathology from Georgetown University, who talked on the pathology of the thymus. Dr. Barcelona introduced the speaker and rounded up the affair with a talk on the history of the Phi. An annual spelling bee was begun in 1954 under the leadership of Crisostomo Arcilla and was continued up to the middle sixties. “Oedipus Rex” was presented on September 17, 1957 in cooperation with the UP Dramatic Club. And in 1961, the fraternity staged a comedy entitled “Psycho-Anal-Lysis,” written by F.B. Farrales
and directed by F.V. Llamido.

The September 1960 issue of Medics Newsette featured an article on Dr. Gregorio Lim, a surgeon and a painter. Unknowingly, it heralded the flowering of an ideal that breathes of the Renaissance, and ideal that animated the sixties with its play, concerts, and poetry. This man who brilliantly fused art with science, who became chief surgeon of PGH and director of the Chinese General Hospital while winning prizes on various art tilts abroad and wielding the presidency of the Art Association of the Philippines from 1956 to 1958, was to become a half-recognized springboard for the intellectual spirit of the next decade. UPSCA later sponsored a “Song and Story Fest” in 1961; Strauss’ “Die Fliedermaus” was performed in Science Hall in 1962; Lapena-Bonifacio’s award-winning “Sepang Loca” was performed on the same year.

The fraternity was suspended from August 30,1960 to December 31, 1960. The reason was the much-bewailed “...the practices (of)inflicting physical injuries, knowing...that occasionally even trivial injuries may lead to serious complications.” And it was perhaps in a spirit of self-vindication and ingratiation that the Phi honored its outstanding alumni in a grand reunion ball immediately after the suspension was lifted.

Winning by a popular vote, the best lecturers in 1960-61 included Drs. Nestor Bautista, Conrado Dayrit, Elpidio Gamboa, Espiridion Reyes, and Luis Mabilangan.
Dec 1960.The Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity will celebrate its 27th anniversary with a Formal Reception and Ball to be heald at the Jai-Alai Sky Room on January 8, 1961. The occasion will serve as a reunion of alumi members since 1933, the year the fraternity was founded. Five distinguished members of the fraternity will be honored during the ball for assuming key positions in the U.P.-P.G.H. Medical Center. The five are: Drs. Benjamin D. Canlas, Jr., Head of the Department of Pathology, Conrado Dayrit, Head of the Department of Pharmacology, Florentino Herrera Jr., Secretary of the College, Luis F. Torres Jr., Head of the Department of Surgery and newly-elected President of the Philippine College of Surgeons, and Jose Barcelona, Director of the Philippine General Hospital. The fraternity has already organized a Ladies’ Committee headed by Miss Edita Vital, Miss Philippines of 1960. Members are: Misses Editha Fargas, Carminda de Leon, Isabel Rodriguez, Diana Carlos, Criselda Lontok, Anabelle Harmon, Jojo Kierulf, Chinky Arellano, Irma Cruz and Cecille Taylor. In the Reception Line will be Alfredo t. Ramirez, Superior Exemplar of the Phi Kappa Mu, Editha Fargas, Dr. Quintin Gomez, Isabel Rodriguez, Dr. Oscar Liboro, Diana Carlos, Reginaldo Picache, Vice Exemplar, and Carminda de Leon. Introducing will be Danilo Torres.

April 8, 1961. The Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity in a meeting held at the Guazon Hall last March 25, 1961 elected its new set of officers for 1961-62. Unanimously elected Superior Exemplar was Reginaldo S. Picache. Other officers chosen are: Oscar dela Paz, Vice-Superior Exemplar; Diosdado A. Garcia, Custodian; Napoleon Carandang, Standard Bearer; Romeo B. Atienza, Venerable Preceptor; Victor Nañagas, Recorder; Edgardo Adiarte, Prior; Jaime R. Hilao, Guardian of the Temple. The faculty-advisers are Dr. Jose Barcelona, Dr. Emilio Horrilleno, Dr. Oscar Liboro and Dr. Clemente Gatmaitan, Jr. To facilitate and coordinate the fraternity activities, an advisory council was formed composed of Roman L. Belmonte, Jr., Eugenio A. Picazo, Enrique T. Ona, Arceo B. M. Laano and Danilo Aberin. Plans outline by the new head include a musical comedy to be participated in by fraternity brothers, a ballet presentation, a movie premiere, a monthly seminar and a fraternity newsletter. After the election, an informal party was held at the residence of Alfredo T. Ramirez, outgoing Superior Exemplar.

Sept 1961. One cold, drizzling evening in August, the third year Phi’s retired to an ornate chamber, hoping to save the occasion all for themselves. They were sadly wrong-some clinical clerks and interns enviably possess the proverbial nose for delectable news. The party went on (the show must go on!) against an as delectable motif of chandeliers, a piano, fresh red and white roses and a bunch of carntion that wouldn’t cater to bees’ peregrinations. And while Thorne Banez cryptically viewed the whole show in a corner, with a glass of Coke on the rocks, Lito Millan was gracefully dancing his way into the hearts of the Diliman guests, Mike Castro was hoping for more “sweets” and Nani de Guzman was assiduously holding on to a fleeting acquaintance, a petite bundle of pale beauty whose pale-pink ensemble delicately outline her silent charms. The ladies: Nita Ventura, Tessie Raymunda, Pris Navarro, Marita Tolentino, Josie Dominguez, Thelma Tupasi, Lispet Evora and more.

Brotherhood might have its own excuses, but at the third decade of its life, the Phi began recognizing other and equally valid reasons for being. And shaping the intellectual and socio-political life of the UP medical community was one of these. Beneath the self- contained and elitist surface, energies stifled by the war were being marshaled, strength was being gathered. The apparent hiatus that marked the decade stored the potential energy that fueled the fireworks of the years which followed.

 

Established in August 1933 by the UP College of Medicine's best medical students, the PHI KAPPA MU (Fraternity of the College of Medicine) continues to uphold its tested tradition of Excellence, Leadership, Service and Brotherhood in the College, University and in our country.

Through the Fraternity's ideals and pillars, her Loyal Sons continue to lead, innovate and excel in the practice of medicine worldwide and in preserving the honor and integrity of the medical profession.

Flagship Projects