The Small Bang
The sprawling Society we know today began almost as an afterthought
It might come as a shock for most to learn that September is not actually Ecosoc’s anniversary month. Or at least, we can’t be sure. Godofredo Bamba himself isn’t sure, and as you will learn in the article on Grand Tradition’s beginning, September was chosen as Ecosoc Month for convenience’s sake.
The origins of the U.P. Economics Society is shrouded in uncertainty. Few documents from the Society’s pre-history exist, and those involved in its creation over fifty years ago have, understandably, forgotten the precise details. Who was the student who first pushed for its founding? Who chose the name? What conversations did the earliest members have with each other?
Nevertheless, we can piece together this much from the facts we do know:
The year is 1958. The College of Business Administration building did not yet exist, and its students took their classes in the Liberal Arts building (presently Palma Hall). There was no School of Economics either, and the subject of economics was merely a minor within the Business Administration undergraduate degree.
Among the CBA-based organizations of the day were the Business Guild, the Pan Xenia Fraternity, and the Phi Chi Theta Sorority. During the first semester of the academic year 1958-1959, a group of CBA seniors realized that no organization existed that focused on the subject of economics, so they moved for the creation of one—an act strongly supported by the director of the Institute of Economic Development and Research, Dr. Amado Castro. Thus, with little fanfare and with no inkling of the fateful act they had just committed, a group of college seniors formed the U.P. Economics Society.
Their first adviser was Dr. Castro, who called for an election of officers. The Society’s charter members gathered in a classroom in the L.A. building one afternoon for this historic affair (though it would be unsurprising if they viewed this as a chore at that time). Among those nominated was a 21-year-old transferee named Godofredo Bamba, who, as you may have read from an earlier Echoes article, was an excelling student hailing from Caloocan.
The elections, like everything else, were informal; a show of hands determined the First Execom, where Godofredo closely defeated rival candidate Nick Poblador to bag the presidency. Teresita de Guzman won as his vice-president, and Amelia Abello, Alice Sandoval, and Genaro Ciriaco were elected as secretary, treasurer, and public relations officer, respectively. Of these five, only Alice is known to be deceased, a tragic victim of the 1990 Baguio City earthquake.
Ecosoc had no committees then, and most of the members were seniors who were busy preparing for their graduation. Consequently, the Society only organized one event: a convocation of congressman Sergio Osmeña, Jr. held in the LA Theater on January 22, 1959 at 11 in the morning. P.R.O. Genaro Ciriaco served as the master of ceremonies.
After the program, the Ecosoc members had a luncheon with the congressman at the U.P. Canteen, a spacious nippa structure where the now-defunct University Prom was usually held.
Camaraderie was present even in those early times as members would often kid that they should embark on an outing at Balara, the joke being that their ‘outing’ was only to the resort next door.
The seniors graduated on 1959, which leaves the transition of officers a bit unclear. It appears Godofredo and his co-Execommers served from the first semester to the second semester of the same school year, unlike today where our officers start in the second semester and end on the first semester of the next school year.
All these are relayed here without dates, for the simple reason that no one remembers them. But though we can’t be sure of our anniversary month, we can be pretty sure that 1958 is our birth year based on two clues. Firstly, Godofredo Bamba graduated on 1959, and his yearbook page credits him and his batchmates as ‘charter members.’ This puts the Society’s birth within the 1958-1959 academic year.
Second, the first event of the Society, the convocation with Hon. Osmeña, occured on January 22, 1959. Since it is highly doubtful the members managed to found the Society and organize a convocation in 22 days, Ecosoc must have been founded in the previous year.
This was the Society at its infancy: no constitution, no CDC, no publication, no tambayan, no song, no thrusts. It was made not for some grand ideological aspiration, but merely to fill a void, and it was no doubt founded with low expectations. In fact, as you read further to the other articles, you will notice that low expectations is a recurring theme in the creation of Ecosoc’s most enduring franchises. The pioneers this issue pays tribute to were just trying to fill a void, or supplying a need. The Big Bang started the universe, but a small bang started Ecosoc. Nevertheless, the whisper of our origins is a never-ending crescendo that continuously echoes through the years. Perhaps now we can believe that genius, indeed, can be found even in the smallest things.
Photos by Kenneth Reyes