Birth of September

Birth of September
The Grand Tradition traces its roots to the audacity of the 25th Execom

— This is part of The Hands That Built Ecosoc special —

While ecosoc greatly banks on its tenet of tradition, little do Ecosocers know how the traditions they happily celebrate now came to be.

Back in the eighties, student organizations would usually choose a whole week to celebrate as their organization. Ecosoc, being one of the largest orgs on campus (and having quite an audacious set of leaders), chose a whole month to claim as their own. Hence, Ecosoc Month came to be.

But just as how the birth of Christ wasn’t really in December, the birth month of Ecosoc in September isn’t necessarily accurate. The Executive Committee of 1981-1982 chose to celebrate Ecosoc Month during September, the primary reason being that it was the last full month of the semester, giving them adequate time to prepare. It was not because it was Ecosoc’s anniversary month, because they didn’t know when that was. All they knew for sure was that Ecosoc started in 1958.

As a testament to the fascinating evolutions caused by time, September came to be known as our anniversary month sometime within the decade.

‘Grand Tradition’

It was then-Echoes Editor-in-Chief Noli de Pala who coined the term ‘Grand Tradition’ to describe the overall sentiment of celebration for the first Ecosoc Month. As for Miss Grand Tradition, the beloved cross-dressing pageant, he explains: “At the time, the College of Business Administration had already run their Binibining BA pageant a couple of times, so our Execom just flat-out pinched the idea.”

Noli claims that the first pageant was sponsored by either Liaison or Secretariat, which means that Memcom wasn’t always its organizers. There were ten contestants then but they didn’t represent any committee—they were just a bunch of willing Ecosocers. Because they all knew member Christian Garcia (now CIO of Halliburton in Texas) looked good in drag, they assigned him as the ‘reigning Miss Grand Tradition’ that would hand over the crown to whoever was going to win. “We thought it wouldn’t be as exciting if he were a contestant and a clear frontrunner,” Noli fondly recalls.

The Original Queens: The first Miss Grand Tradition in 1982

We can see how the Miss Grand Tradition has progressed since its conception in 1982. Its first installment was held in the lobby of the School of Economics, and such was the case up to Grand Tradition 2008 (Heaven Sent: Goddesses to Die For). In 2009, Enthroned was held in SE 127, while during the next two years, Vengeance and Fearless were held in the School of Economics Auditorium.

“There are pictures around of me getting kissed by the reigning queen on our little makeshift stage in the Econ Lobby, so I may have even hosted it,” Noli recalls. “I do remember posing some questions to the contestants.”

‘Pangakong Pangarap’

Besides working on the first-ever Ecosoc Month, Noli de Pala, with Roda Santos, Ding Yson, and Raymond Azurin, wrote “Pangakong Pangarap,” the official Ecosoc song, in the next semester. That was when a songwriting contest was held within the Society, and the four-man team submitted two entries (out of a total of five). Noli likes to joke that their “worse” entry won. He is, however, quite surprised that the song has lived on decades after it was written.

Shortly after that fateful September, after the first Grand Tradition and after the first Ecosoc Month, the UP Economics Society received the Wenceslao Q. Vinzons Award, a distinction given to the best student organization in the entire University of the Philippines system. Noli attributes this achievement to his Executive Committee and the “sheer audacity” of Ecosoc Month.

Little do Noli and the rest of his contemporaries in Ecosoc realize that it was during their time when a tradition that was grander than any cross-dressing pageant they could have ever come up with started—a tradition that began to shed light on the multitudes of reasons for Ecosocers to celebrate why it is so amazing to be part of something as magnificent as the UP Economics Society.

Does the fact that September is not really our anniversary take anything away from the passion we display and feats we achieve during that month? It doesn’t. After all, as the tagline says, ‘Remember September, because we gave it meaning.’ Indeed, Noli and company did, and it’s called the Grand Tradition. For that reason, September was, is, and always will be, the one and only Ecosoc Month.


Photo by Kenneth Reyes. Ms. Grand Tradition photo provided by Aly Reyes

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