Linked: Beta Epsilon’s Chain since 1929
By Jose Alfonso Adizon, BE’18
In 1929, nine bright students, leaders, and athletes from the UP College of Engineering envisioned the first college-based fraternity in the country. On August 23, with the guidance of Hon. Alejandro S. Melchor, their vision finally came into fruition; these nine honorable founders initiated the chain that continues to stand the test of time up until today. This chain, signifying the strong bond among the brothers of the fraternity throughout generations, has served as the solid foundation of the relationships and camaraderie built throughout generations of Betans. 92 years later, this ever-growing chain grows stronger with every new link added.
Founded on the ideals of brotherhood and service, the Beta Epsilon instilled in each and every Betan the importance of putting others above oneself. The different projects and initiatives of Beta Epsilon throughout the years that focus on the service of college and country is a testament of how solidly linked each Betan is in the chain of brotherhood. This only would have been possible through the collective efforts of each and every Betan. Consequently, Beta Epsilon has stood proudly as one of the most prestigious fraternities in the University and in the country, garnering several achievements and recognitions for their efforts.
Seeing potential improvements in the lives of their fellow students, the Betans, under MEB Joe Arvisu BE’49, took it upon themselves to construct the Beta Epsilon Way. Originally established in 1953 as a dirt path filled in with gravel, the Beta Epsilon Way is one of the most well-known landmarks in UP Diliman. Seeing the popularity of the Beta Epsilon Way and the amount of foot traffic it generated, the Betans maintained the path themselves. Every year, the brothers set aside time to reinstate the gravel path every August 19, which was a holiday in Quezon City.
On November 15, 1961, the Beta Epsilon Way was adjusted to better coincide with the facades of Melchor Hall and Palma Hall. The path itself was also updated with paving blocks instead of gravel during the terms of MEBs Dennis Quinto BE’58 and Bobby Tinio BE’60. The simple practicality of the Beta Epsilon Way is that it gives the shortest path from Melchor Hall (the College of Engineering) to Palma Hall (formerly the College of Arts and Sciences).
As a testament to the brotherhood’s commitment to this aim, the fraternity was awarded the Wenceslao Q. Vinzons Achievement Award on October 9, 1962 by the University Student Union. The award was given “in recognition of leadership displayed in the field of civic-spirited campus projects”. The Beta Epsilon is the only fraternity to be given this award.
In 1969, the Beta Gate was built to be the gate to what was the Area XIV Children’s Playground. The gate was designed by National Artist, Napoleon Abueva. It was constructed by the resident Betans over the course of several weeks. The gate stands in front of what is now the Tabujara Hall, near the PAUW-UP Child Study Center.
The Blockbooster, one of the fraternity’s annual events, was first organized in 1974. The Blockbooster was conceptualized to be a peaceful means of bringing together freshman blocks through friendly competition, amidst the turmoil of the recently-implemented Martial Law at the time. While it was not the main focus of the quiz show, over the years it has also brought with it the promise of a generous prize. It is a quiz show about anything under the sun, testing both the participants’ technical and general knowledge.
The first Maskipaps (now MSK) was staged in 1978 during the term of MEB Robbie Fabian BE’75. The name is a contraction of the phrase “Maski-papaano”. Originally, only organizations from the College of Engineering participated in Maskipaps. The organizations presented a variety of rehearsed and unrehearsed entertainment numbers. As the event became more popular, organizations outside the College also started contributing presentations. A student survey in the 80’s revealed that the event became the second most-awaited annual event in the University, with the first being the Lantern Parade. Now it is one of the awaited night events during the Engineering Week.
During the 75th year of the University of the Philippines, the Beta Epsilon constructed the Beta Theatrum as a gift to the University. Its architectural design was worked out by College of Architecture Dean Geronimo Manahan BE’57. Located in the lagoon area at the back of the University Amphitheater, it is designed as a freestanding structure that could be used as a stage for various performances. The original design had its stage situated on the lagoon’s edge, allowing for a greater acoustic effect. The first function to utilize the stage was Prof. Dominador Ilio’s Poetry Reading in December of 1984.
Originally launched as a project in 1992, the Beta Epsilon Audio-Visual Room was intended to be a classroom that would also house state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The Beta Epsilon AVR was renovated in 2005 to become the Beta Epsilon Multimedia Hall (BE MMH). The new BE MMH boasted air-conditioning, hanging digital projectors with a dedicated desktop computer, and a fixed sound system. This renovation was a very welcome improvement that would go on to be the college’s first full-fledged multimedia room.
The Beta Epsilon received the Best Fraternity Award on February 22, 2005, given by UP President Ermalinda Roman, for its outstanding service and projects to the UP community throughout its lifespan. The award was received by Prof. Dominador Ilio, in the presence of resident and alumni Betans. To date, the Beta Epsilon is the only recipient of the Best Fraternity Award.
On October 6, 2008, the alumni and residents of the Beta Epsilon presented a commemorative paddle to then College of Engineering Dean Rowena Guevara as a sign that it no longer recognizes violence to be an integral part of the initiation process. As early as the ‘90s, there were ideas of removing Physical Initiations (PI) from the Fraternity’s Rites of Passage (ROP). These sentiments led to serious discussions in the fraternity, which culminated in the formulation of a new PI-free Rites of Passage that is compliant with the Anti-Hazing Law.
For all its efforts, the Beta Epsilon fraternity received the Natatanging Samahan ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan award. The award was given on February 28, 2014 during the annual Parangal sa Mag-Aaral, in recognition of the fraternity's honor and excellence in its civic service projects. The Beta Epsilon stays true to its aim of service to the country in general and to the UP community with projects such as the UP Lagoon Rehabilitation Project and in sending aid to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
First organized in 2014, Maskipaps: The Crossover is a concert featuring local bands, artists, and DJs. Maskipaps: The Crossover was conceptualized as a way of modernizing the tradition of the fraternity holding an annual celebration for the UP community in December. It is recognized as the official afterparty of the annual UP Lantern Parade. The carefully produced event is highly anticipated every year and is attended by tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the Philippines. The last Maskipaps: The Crossover had over 17,000 attendees, making it the most attended student-organized concert in the Philippines.
In the year 2019, the Beta Way was reborn, with a fresh set of bricks, handrails and PWD access, featuring landscaped promenades, and street lights. The improvements made the Beta Way more accessible, accommodating and aesthetically pleasing, which are fitting for a route so vital to the UP Diliman Community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected the lives of people around the world. Despite the lack of face to face activities, this did not hinder the fraternity from building and strengthening its chains; recruitment and the rites of passage were shifted to the online setting, taking the essential aspects of the ROP to ensure that potential Betans are capable of upholding the values and principles of the Beta Epsilon and, ultimately, continuing the chain.
Upholding the fraternity’s ideals amidst the adversity, the brothers of Beta Epsilon took up the challenge to help the community. The fraternity sought communities where it can help. On April 2020, a total of 10,000 high quality isolation coveralls were donated to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Cash assistance was also extended to the 135 staff and personnel of the UP College of Engineering during the same month. On August, the fraternity has successfully transformed Maskipaps: The Crossover into a virtual, fund-raising concert. Through it, Php 80,000 was raised for the benefit of the Philippine Genome Center, a genomics research unit of UP Diliman at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. Also on August, the Grand Pakain was held in recognition of the frontliners. A total of 1,000 meals were donated to four hospitals in Metro Manila. On Septermber, 920 reams of bond papers were donated to four elementary schools in Agoncillo, Batangas, for their use in printing of learning modules. On October, a total of 35 units of personal computers were donated to students and dormitories, as personal computers became vital in the online set-up of education during the pandemic. Lastly, the fraternity has also extended aid to the victims of Typhoon Ulysses in Cagayan. In partnership with A&B Philippineds and FEED Philippines Inc., 10,000 onsite cooked meals, 24,000 MREs and 350 relief packages were distributed to the typhoon victims in the provice of Cagayan.
As we celebrate 92 years of Beta Epsilon, let us recognize the chain that links all the brothers together -- the chain connecting the brightest scholars and leaders; different individuals from different walks of life coming together and living the fraternity’s ideals of love, trust, and sacrifice towards their fellow brothers and those around them.