Dateline: “October 31, 1941.” The birthdate of a campus journal by, for and of the BOYS from San Beda College. “The BEDAN” -- “chronicler of…. history, and the voice of the student body.”
Well, journal and campus are no longer just by, for and of “the boys.” GIRLS, too, today. I have only heard about it and not seen it. Not until Saturday, January 21 when a reunion of some 170 plus former “The Bedan” editors and staff came together to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the campus paper’s existence.
A personal confirmation, San Beda had gone co-ed (since 2003. I ceased being a Philippine resident in 1999). There were indeed ‘chicks’ in the campus! Nope, incorrect. The Red Lions’ den now had Red Lionettes roaming, too! Someday soon, they will be Red Lionesses! We all roared together in jubilant celebration!
Commendation must go to the organizing committee that pulled off a memorable affair. They brought together former editors and staffers for a catered banquet (sans booze!) right on campus (St. Maur’s Hall.) Here is the organizing cast that I am still able to remember while Saturday’s memories linger. I will risk missing some names. I do not wish to offend those I might miss and omit. I possess the best excuse: onset of senior moments!
They are new young Red Lion and Lionette friends. Manny Mas who first reached out to me and Ares Gutierrez, keeping me posted. Pidoy Velez, The Bedan Alumni Association President ( a cousin of Bedan staffer Paeng Velez, my very dear classmate from GS to HS and College); there were 2 Jeffs (Daroy and Flores); Edsel Duque who took my ‘selfie’ with three red-and-white prettykinses; a chap whose name sounded like ‘jewel,’ de Leon and Jonas Roxas. There too was an articulate Ruel Ramirez who had a video presentation and Danna Padilla-Lim who registered me at the reception desk and handed me my souvenir knit-shirt. Danna is the very first female…I say, GIRL editor-in-chief! And there have been six of them since the school went co-ed. Never ever having been an MCP (male chauvinist pig), I am truly happy about this conversion!
“The Bedan” has adopted an operating motto: “In essentials, unity; in debatables, liberty; in all things, charity.” It goes like this in its original Latin: “In necessariis, unitas; in opiniabilibus, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.” What tugs at my journalistic guts, however, is “ commitment to drumbeat for the truth,” taken from a photo caption in “The Bedan” 75th Anniversary Special Issue. How very apt in this era of “post truths’ and ‘alternative facts.”
“The Bedan” and Father Boniface Axtman, OSB.
A multi-awarded campus newspaper, “the Bedan” has gifted our memories with names who served in government such as Senators Rene V. Saguisag and Raul Roco; Speakers of the House of Representatives Ramon Mitra and Sonny Belmonte; Supreme Court Justices Tony Martinez and Justo Torres, Cabinet Secretaries (Press) such as Raul S. Gonzalez and moi. All former editors. This era was mentored by our own legendary adviser, Prof. Recaredo V. Enriquez. RVE. There existed a group known as “RVE Rangers.”
Before Oct. 31, 1941, San Beda only had an annual publication, a news/literary magazine called “Ecos.” Ecos (now Echoes) has remained the school’s graduation ‘annual’ since. A newly arrived imported monk from the American Benedictine community of St. John’s Abbey and St. John’s University in Minnesota, was installed as Rector. Imbued with modern and more liberal ideals, it was this Father Rector who oversaw the birth of ‘the Bedan,” as San Beda’s official student publication.
Fr. Boniface Axtman, OSB (Order of St. Benedict) must have been quite a crackerjack of a Benedictine monk to have been sent to the Philippines just before the war when he was barely thirty. It seems that the College and Abbey administration of San Beda was going through some financial straits. Monks are not exactly known for commercial business acumen. Only Enrique ‘Spanky’ Perez (Editor-in-Chief/’55, retired Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel of PLDT---the telephone company.) and myself, of all the attendees last Saturday, knew and had actually met Fr. Axtman. He was not tall for an American and must have stood at no more than 5’8”. He parted his hair almost at the middle, had a winsome smile and wore the rimless eyeglasses. When Fr. Axtman had an off-campus appointment (I saw this a couple of times), he wore khakis with a silver cross on his open collar’ lapel. Fr. Axtman was part of the 4000 plus internees in the Santo Tomas WW II Internment Camp (Prisoners of War). He resumed Rectorship soon after his release in early 1945, returning to the US in 1947. He passed on in 1990.
Unequalled Chutzpah in Campus Journo!
The Ateneo-San Beda NCAA rivalry was coming to a heated head. Whichever team won the 1955 Season Championship at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum will get to keep the valued Zamora trophy for good, having by then notched a third championship. To take home the victory trophy, the Champion must have won three times. That it was two and two for each side added to the excitement and the glamor-in-waiting!
Now comes another blast from “the Bedan” past. The Age of Carlos Loyzaga. The dateline: October 2, 1955. A Special Victory edition, a very special issue indeed it was. This is an entire story by itself, but let me cut to the chase!
Written, edited and ‘put to bed’ ( we still used lead slugs spewed out by linotype machines ) clandestinely. We even used a clandestine printing press, not the usual Carmelo and Bauermann along Azcarraga (now Recto). It was a printing plant owned by Smith, Bell & Co., located in a desolate spot, a delta islet along the Pasig, Isla de Provisor, across from Hospicio de San Jose, the entrance through a side street along Marques de Comillas and a small iron bridge. Cloak and dagger stuff, you know!
Two minutes before the game ended, the Coliseum floor was flying with copies of “the Bedan,” with the screaming headline in red: BEDANS TRIUMPH.
Such chutzpah (hootspah) heralding an event that was yet to happen! (Please pause and read that again!) What a clandestine bon-fire it would have been, were the Championship’s outcome otherwise!
Nota Bene: Spanky Perez was the ‘engineer’ / editor-in-chief of this journalistic caper. I wrote the top story. I recall that the lead went something like “Tonight, ride high in the chariot of victory, the Red Lions!” or something such. Being Chief Cheerleader, with access to the hardcourt during game time, I jubilantly did the first batch of distribution, confident that San Beda’s lead over Ateneo was insurmountable, irreversible. Teasingly, I called the ‘Blue Eagles” the “Blown Iggles.”
Audacious giddiness, priceless!
I have often wondered if our much younger ‘the Bedan’ colleagues also indulged in endearingly prankish capers like using the school paper’s pages, especially the ‘columns,’ to launch ciphered declarations to the objects of their affection. We did. ‘Inter-campus crushes’ might best describe those emotional ventures. “In our time,” ((pardon the expression, reserved for geriatrics!) we used pet names (as by-lines) for our current crushes among Manila’s ‘colegialas.’ They were actually code names for writing sweet nothings and veiled expressions of youthful adorations. I have no permission to reveal what my contemporaries used. But mine were “Apple” referring to someone from St. Paul and “Butterball” to a ‘crush’ from St. Scho. My first effort that saw print was in the Christmas issue of 1953 or 54, typeprint was in green ink! “A letter to St. Nick.” Was I wishing for a ‘yes’ from a ‘gelfren?’ I do not remember!
I do remember “Der Snoil 66,” though. That is reverse for Red Lions. 66 because there were a dozen of us ‘loverboyniks’ in the coterie. Dante Barbosa, Joselito Casas, Leo Hidalgo, Jun Tancuan, Benny Rosello, Manny Ruasol, Mon Bello, Jesus Evangelista, Andy Wycoco, and goodness I can’t remember all anymore! Of course, there was me. None of them showed up for the reunion. A couple may have been ‘early departures.’ Goodbye, then. I miss them.
In my advancing years, I think I would relish spinning more true recollections and well remembered memories, sharing such moments, as I do right now. Let me then end with a phrase, actually the title of a ‘the Bedan’ short, short love story by Raul S. Gonzalez, (my classmate from all the way to Grade School) perhaps the most illustrious writer ‘the Bedan’ has ever nurtured and created:
“Goodbye is not for us!”
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