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Country > Philippines > Metro Manila
Date > 1980 > March
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Society of Emancipated Men (SEMEN) 1979 - Mar 1980

Society of Emancipated Men (SEMEN)

Location Google Map: College of Business Administration, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines

SEMEN is a tongue-in-cheek name for an all-male organization at the College of Business Administration at the University of the Philippines. It somehow threaded the thin line between an 'org' and a 'fraternity'. Compared to the one fraternity in the College of BA, SEMEN was the rougher and more playful one - since most of its members are also members of other rough-hewn fraternities. We had drinking sprees and banter exchanges but all in good clean fun.

Being the Odd Member
At the College of Business in UP, the students are business minded and usually come from a family with businesses. Even though UP is known for its political activism, that sentiment does not exist at the College of Business.

Being 'hippie-ish', having a long hair, having anti-establishment views and talking about existential activism made me the odd member. For that matter, I was the odd student at the College of Business. In hindsight though, I think I was just an outsider looking in - I never felt I fit into anything. But my eccentricity was tolerated by the Pards of SEMEN and another org I became a member of - JMA. I'm still baffled why I took Business Admistration when I was clearly not a businessman nor have any enterpreneurial aptitude.

Society of Emancipated Men (SEMEN)
a rare group shot of SEMEN members (selfies were not in vogue then)

Johnny Delegencia
I'm writing this in June 2023. Why? This morning, I got a message from Jun Que, one of the members, saying another Pards (members call each other 'Pards'), Johnny Delegencia just passed on. It was saddening. I haven't seen these guys since college, so I remember Johnny as a young, dashing guy who scored heavy with the lovely babes. Those were the heady days.

Society of Emancipated Men (SEMEN)
Jun Que, Bong Leagogo and Andy Altarejos at Johnny Delegencia's burial

Being a Frat Man?
SEMEN was the closest thing I came to being in a fraternity. In UP, if you are a male student, becoming a 'frat' member was a right of passage. There were times I was almost forced to join a frat for protection - I was hunted down by the Kappa Epsilon for punching one of its members. There were frats I admired - the Beta Sigma for being the tough guys in the campus, the Upsilon Sigma Phi for being achievers with means, Sigma Rho and Alpha Phi Omega for having such a strong presence. It was tempting to join. But there was something in me saying NO. I just followed my instinct then without knowing why it's not for me.

Now, knowing myself better and knowing the world a little more, I think I know why. If I join a fraternity, my ability to say no would be compromised. To those who see life as a give-and-take, that's no big deal. But to me, my freedom meant the world. Now at this late stage in the game, I can say that I'm not beholden to anyone, not indebted to anyone, my politics are mine, I choose my divinity and I can walk away from anyone.

Nice. But the other side of the coin is, when shit hits the fan, I have no lifeline and there is no crutch. I have to endure it alone. Well, I won't have it any other way, anyway. When I thought I would die in a failed cliff dive, I didn't even bother to call relatives or friends. Instead, I looked for a cave. Either I come out of it healed, or not come out at all. I've had a good life.

Society of Emancipated Men (SEMEN)
with Ito Sotto and Andy Altarejos back in the day

Ending Thoughts
Johnny's passing is also a grim reminder that we are no longer the kings we felt we were. To put the aging process in context, when we were idealistic students of UP in our late teens, we felt invincible. When we entered the workforce and scaled the ranks in our 30s making things happen, we felt optimized. When we hit our 50s feeling we weren't as strong as we used to be, we felt our vulnerability. In another decade, I'm sure to feel our mortality. I tried reaching out to some Pards whom I've connected with...while there is still time.

I thought I'd just write about SEMEN and Johnny, but I somehow ended up reflecting my own college sojourn. I guess when you get older, you tend to reflect on things.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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(Mar 1980) Finally, after 4 years of toiling at the University of the Philippines, I'm done. This picture says it all - the academics, membership to SEMEN (an all-male org at the College of Business Adm), being an outsider, overcoming depression, barely coming back home from being a stowaway, and completely oblivious to what lies ahead.....more »»

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