How time really flies…this year, the UPLB community will celebrate the Centennial Loyalty Day with the theme, “100 years: Uplifting Peoples’ Lives and Beyond.”
But why do we celebrate Loyalty Day? What is the importance of this event to the University and to its alumni? How does the University serve the people for almost a century? These questions can be truthfully answered by looking back at the historical event in 1918.
Some 99 years ago, in the dimly lighted lecture hall of the old Botany building, the whole UP College of Agriculture (CA) community gathered for a “critical decision.” The United States of America (USA) was at war against what they perceived as evil forces that threatened democracy. The arena of conflict was France. The enemy – a fascist capitalist power, Germany. This was World War I. As a show of his unwavering support, former President Quezon promised 25,000 Filipino volunteers to supplement whatever the “Free World” allies could master. In behalf of the Yankees, he issued the call for volunteers. And the college community immediately responded to the call. Some 206 students, faculty members and staff enlisted in the Philippine National Guard to gallantly fight with the Allied Forces. However, the war had already been won by the allies before they (volunteers) were even through with their military training. So, they came back to resume their agricultural work/ studies. Nevertheless, the volunteers were still accorded the recognition every 10th day of October. After all, what mattered was the “spirit of volunteerism” and their readiness to sacrifice their lives for what they believed to be a just cause. The surviving volunteers were paraded during the grand celebration of what was dubbed as Loyalty Day.
Since then, October 10 has been a special day for alumni who come home to renew their ties with their Alma Mater, classmates and friends. Hence, aside from exalting the “spirit of volunteerism,” Loyalty Day participants are also harnessing the “Los Baños Spirit,” a unique feeling of belongingness and camaraderie among UPLB alumni. Through the years, celebrations were either pompous or simple. There were foot and float parades featuring jubilarians and floats of various institutions in Los Baños and other municipalities/cities. Awarding ceremonies to recognize outstanding alumni were regularly conducted. Various contests in singing, painting, and float design were likewise held.
Nowadays, this momentous event is celebrated for two days. The aforementioned activities, along with other alumni-related activities of the colleges and units, are prepared months before October. The chair of this event usually comes from the Golden Jubilarian of the year, with the assistance of the UPLBAA and the UPLB OAR. Hand-in-hand, they work together so that these activities will be possible.
With that, the jubilarians for this year are from the classes ending in 3 and 8. The Golden Jubilarians are from Class 1968. Among the big activities lined up for this year’s grand celebration are the Luncheon Salo-salo and UPLBAA Alumni Awards on October 9 at the Baker Hall and the Loyalty Day Parade on October 10. As the theme of the Loyalty Day connotes, UPLB has been serving the nation through instruction, research and extension; thereby uplifting the people’s lives and beyond. These triadic functions of the University truly reflect the inspiration provided by the gallant Filipino volunteers who were willing to serve and die for our country. Let us therefore honor them by reuniting and joining the activities of the Centennial Loyalty Day celebration. (PValencia and Apolinario L. Lantican)
*This article is also in the Bukas Newsletter, Issue No. 6, July 2018.