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8/1/2013 9:54:55 PM

by Paolo Celeridad
Posted on 07/31/2013 10:14 PM | Updated 08/02/2013 9:53 AM

(Editor's note: The photos in the slideshow below are by documentary photographer Rick Rocamora, himself a Sigma Rhoan. He spent 5 years documenting "Our own way of life" to capture what he considers as the "special brotherhood that binds them for life." The Sigma Rho fraternity is celebrating its 75th year anniversary on August 2. Rocamora says, "Hopefully through this collection of images and eventually a coffee table book, I can provide the public a glimpse of a time-tested relationship that is sometimes a mystery to others but never to any of us.")


MANILA, Philippines - For some, it all began with a quick chat over lunch. For others, there were formal dinner invitations for more extensive discussions about a lifetime commitment. Many did not need convincing, because their fathers, uncles, brothers, or cousins were already part of this tradition that dates back to the Commonwealth era.

Nonetheless, all were drawn to the idea of becoming part of something greater than oneself, helping each other grow and improve, and belonging to a close-knit family that transcended campus life.

Such were the ways in which men were introduced to life in the Sigma Rho Fraternity of UP Diliman, formally established in 1938 as the first law-based Greek-letter fraternity in Asia.

Anyone who joins the Sigma Rho will be awed by the mystique and influence of the lifetime commitment they pledge to. Anyone who avidly watched the impeachment trial of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona last year will be surprised at the number of times the podiums of the presiding officer, the prosecution panel, and the defense team were manned by Sigma Rhoans (they always cordially greeted each other despite the seriousness of the proceedings).

Anyone will be surprised at and sometimes be envious of the prestigious roster of successful alumni lawyers and politicians the Sigma Rho has produced, many of whom at one point or another held titles such as Chief or Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Minister or Secretary of Justice, Senator or Senate President, Congressman or Assemblyman, Governor or Mayor, Chairman or Commissioner, or even Dean or University President.

But the mystique and influence are only part of it. Newly inducted juniors of the Sigma Rho are quick to realize that their seniors and batchmates occupy key positions on campus. Eventually, the newly inducted junior is then taught and guided through the hardest part of his journey: that of continuously being a Sigma Rhoan.

The easiest part of the journey is joining. Unless the discipline sets in, unless a conscious effort is made to live up to the Sigma Rho’s tenets, unless the new "brod" realizes that the fraternity either flourishes or declines through his deeds and behavior, the Sigma Rho cannot be said to have passed on its legacy to such new brod.

Today, the Sigma Rho is not strictly composed of law students. It has members with and studying for degrees in engineering, business, and even sports science. The Sigma Rho looks to these brods as its future, and these brods in turn find solace and strength in the fraternity’s tenets.

For a Sigma Rhoan, it is not enough to be the best; rather, it is to be the best for a good reason, a greater purpose. For the past 75 years, this has been the hardest yet most fulfilling part of the Sigma Rho’s continuing mission as a campus force and national force shaping the nation’s destiny. -

Paolo Celeridad is a resident Sigma Rhoan and a fifth year law student at the UP College of Law. He served two terms on the Central Board of the UP Law Student Government before becoming the Vice Chair of the Philippine Law Journal. He was nominated last June by the Judicial and Bar Council along with 3 others to become the Law Students' Sector Representative to the Legal Education Board.



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