History of the UP Vanguard

Duty well performed, Honor untarnished, and Country above-self has been the shibboleth and clarion call of the UP Vanguard since its inception.

Vanguard Ferdinand Marcos '37 leading the UP Vanguard Homecoming Parade at the UP Sunken Garden
Vanguard Ferdinand Marcos ’37 leading the UP Vanguard Homecoming Parade at the UP Sunken Garden

The UP Vanguard tradition begins with the UP ROTC Cadet and the academic system and military program under which he is developed. It is a tradition incepted from the time he enters the Corps as a humble but dignified member in search of truth and knowledge. It is the tradition engendered through the years even after he graduates from the ranks of the Corps and the University; a tradition that marks him not only for service but also for leadership in his chosen field of endeavor. It binds him to his brethren and his Alma Mater; and keeps him forever tied to the development of succeeding generations in the Corps.

Organized military training in the University of the Philippines started in 1912 at the old Padre Faura Campus when it was made a required subject for all able-bodied male students in all colleges, institutes, and schools of the University.

During the early years after its inception, military training in the University was mainly in infantry and the use of the rifle. Captain Silvino Gallardo of the Philippine Constabulary was named first military instructor and assumed office during the first semester of 1912.

Although the Philippines had no significant military involvement during World War I, the conflagration made the Philippine Government realize the need for a good reserve force of able-bodied Filipinos trained in the art of war capable of resisting foreign aggression.

With the formal organization of the UP DMST on March 17, 1922, military drill was superseded by the term “military science and tactics”. Together with this, the objectives and purposes of the Department were announced:

  1. To develop patriotic, physically sound, upright and disciplined citizens;
  2. To create a Corps of Trained Officers for the Reserve Force; and
  3. To take the lead in fostering the University Spirit.

Studies in Military Science and Tactics in the University of the Philippines are curricular activities, much as the DMST is a curricular department. Since the opening of the Department in 1922, the basic course in infantry has been compulsory and a prerequisite for graduation in the academic courses.

On March 5, 1925, the UP Board of Regents in their 273rd meeting approved the granting of University Certificates to those students who have completed the advanced course, thus making these students alumni of the University even though they might not have yet finished their academic courses.

The field artillery unit was established on October 26, 1929 with the issuance of 75 mm field guns. In 1935, a mounted battery unit was organized equipped with 2.95 inch guns.

With the support given by both the Government and the University at that time, greater impetus was given to military training with the then DMST more than able to live up to its avowed objectives. Such that during the 1930’s, other than the now defunct Philippine Constabulary Academy, the UP ROTC produced most of the leaders who were destined to distinguish themselves in the Defense of the Philippines in 1941 to 1942, and the succeeding resistance war against the Japanese aggressor.

With the formal establishment of the Department of Military Science and Tactics as a curricular unit of the University in 1922, the military fraternity spirit had its modest but significant beginnings. Though informally called under various names, the apt choice of UP Vanguard Fraternity came about with the class of 1934 as a fraternity of the Corps, with the alumni also carrying on with the organization after graduation.

War in the Philippines came in the early morning of December 8, 1941. Cadets in the advanced courses were mobilized and joined the Philippine Army, many of them going on to fight in Bataan and Corregidor.

In December 25, 1941, Manila was declared an open city. Together with this, the UP DMST was officially closed for the duration of the war, its mission of preparing a good part of the citizen army leadership had been accomplished, its history to be written in the blood of the enemy and its own.

The Vanguard brotherhood was subjected to severe tests during World War II and the resistance warfare against Japan. Despite the chaos and resultant disorganization brought by the war, the fraternal bonds kept the members together. Many Vanguards distinguished themselves during the war-and it became corollary that the UP Vanguard would be the Nation’s vanguard.

Some of the Vanguards who excelled in the field of battle during World War II include Major Alfredo M. Santos and Captain Adamin Tallow who drew first blood from the Japanese invader in the beach defense of Mauban and Atimonan in December 1941. The two were likewise charged with the delaying actions as the Southern Luzon Force withdrew to Bataan. Major Santos would later on rise to become the first four star general of the AFP in 1963.

Even with the fall of Bataan on April 9,1942, the UP Vanguards remained dauntless. Major Macario Peralta Jr. carried on with guerilla warfare in the island of Panay. His methodical and scientific manner of warfare earned him the respect of many of his peers and placed him among the ranks of the best guerilla leaders during the war.

Captain Salvador Abcede, Class ’36 led the resistance fighters in the island of Negros. Lt Col. Salipada Pendatun, also of Class ’36 was the leading guerrilla leader in southern Mindanao.

Brig Gen Carlos P Romulo, on the other hand, was in charge of the famous “Voice On the other hand, while the Vanguard of Freedom”.

After the war, the UP DMST immediately reorganized and activated as part of the Manila ROTC on August 1, 1946. Military training resumed at the Diliman campus during the school year 1949-50. By then, the communist insurgency in the Philippines gained headway and the Korean War had begun. Once again, many Vanguards answered the call to the colors. Among those who served in the Korean war were 2nd Lt. Rodolfo Villarica, ’48; 2nd Lt Bienvenido R Castro ‘ 49; 2nd Lt Dionisio de Leon, ’49; 2nd Lt Jose D Drilon Jr (’51); 2nd Lt Alfredo de la Cruz (’50); 2nd Lt Baltazar Aguirre (’51); and 2nd Lt Benjamin R Vallejo, ’52.

On the other hand, while the Vanguard Fraternity of the Corps of Cadets continued after the war, the alumni organization remained informal. In 1952, a move spearheaded by Gen. Macario Peralta Jr., then Senator, Colonel Joaquin Hidalgo, then UP Commandant of Cadets and then AFP Judge Advocate General, later on Supreme Court Chief Justice, Fred Ruiz Castro was initiated to revitalize the alumni organization. On the 30th anniversary of the organization of the DMST on 29 March 1952, the biggest postwar UP Vanguard Homecoming was effected as more than 500 alumni marched to Diliman. General Peralta became the first National Commander of the UP Vanguard as an alumni organization.

Ten years later, in 1962, during the incumbency of Gen. Alfredo M. Santos as National Commander and during the 40th Anniversary of the DMST, the UP Vanguard was incorporated and has since been known to this day as the UP Vanguard Incorporated.

During the same year, the official seal of the UP Vanguard was likewise adopted. The original seal was designed by then Captain Jaime M. Cortes of class ’53. Under the Vanguard constitution existing at that time, the UP Vanguard seal should have been a simple circle bearing the words UP Vanguard. However, in their desire to infuse the UP Spirit into its seal, the Board of Governors then decided to include the UP Eagle and college insignia as shown in the official university seal. The year 1922 was likewise included in the seal as it was during this year when the UP DMST officially became one of the curricular departments of the University-the institution from which all members of the UP Vanguard received their training.

The year 1964 marked Philippine involvement in South Vietnam. Once again, this provided the opportunity for UP ROTC Graduates to prove their worth. Captains Agripino R de Guzman and Benjamin Vallejo earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Medal of Honor for civic action duty in Vietnam. Captains Jose P Magno Jr., Constante Quiaoit and Ricardo Octavio were awarded the RVN Medal of Honor. Other Vanguards who served in Vietnam include Major Bienvenido R Castro and Captain Romulo Yap, among others.

The 60’s ushered in the era of student activism. The youth, including cadets were affected by the search for national relevance. On September 15, 1968 upon the insistence of graduates and cadets of the UP ROTC, and under the able leadership of Captain Benjamin Vallejo, the now famous “Sunday Soldiers” came into being. A purely voluntary civic- military undertaking sponsored by the University Chapter and the UP DMST, this program was designed to make participants therein to be Citizen Soldiers – good motivated citizens and effective, loyal soldiers. The volunteer concept became popularly known as the “Rainbow” Ranger training concept. Although the membership spread to other institutions, the leadership remained with the UP ROTC and the UP Vanguard.

In the meantime, the UP Vanguard Inc. continued to grow. During the term of Eng’r.. Donato T. Pangilinan ’54 as National Commander in 1967, the organization of chapters all over the country was seriously implemented. Within the metropolis, the Capitol Chapter headed by Eng’r.. Ernesto F. Sanvictores ’52 and the Manila Chapter headed by Col Jose D. Regala ’38 were immediately organized. In April 1968, a group of young Vanguards still connected with the University as students or faculty members formed the University Chapter, headed by Jesus F. Fuentes Jr. ’66. This was soon followed by the organization of the Makati, Pasig, Metro Manila Los Banos, Los Banos, Los Banos University, Baguio-Northern Luzon, Amianan, Cebu and Davao Chapters of the UP Vanguard Inc.

In November 1971, a whole battalion of Sunday Soldiers and UP Cadet Of ficers formed the “Liberator Battalion” which policed the elections in the Lanao Provinces under the command of Lt Col Benjamin Vallejo. During its 3-week stint of peacekeeping in Lanao, nine citations for bravery were earned by cadets of the battalion. Cadet Captain Mariano Angeles-was cited for bravery in action against Muslim malefactors in the mountain fastness of Butig, Lanao del Sur on November 9, 1971. Ranger John Fortes of class ’70 and Cadet Captain Eustaquio Granadillos also earned citations for bravery at Puala and Malabang respectively.

The early years of the 70’s also witnessed Vanguards in action in the field of disaster relief operations. During the floods and disasters of 1972, the men of the UP ROTC again proved their mettle in crisis. Under the initiation of Ranger Virgilio Platon, young volunteers formed disaster, mercy and rescue units. As floodwaters continued to grow, l 00 young UP volunteers operated at the Calumpit-Apalit area where the Pampanga river rampaged. Likewise in the south, Laguna lake flooded the northern Laguna towns. A similar group of 100 volunteers from the UP in Los Banos and the Laguna Institute, all members of the “Rainbow ” brigade joined hands in disaster and relief operations.

The period also saw an increase in various civic actions conducted by the Corps of Cadets. In 1972, the UP DMST transferred to its present site after the old DMST was burned down in March 1970.

The 70’s also became witness to the so-called “Vallejo decade”. Upon his assumption as Commandant of Cadets in 1972, Ben Vallejo stayed on until his retirement in 1982 as a Brigadier General of the AFP. His long tenure spelled stability, and with his able leadership coupled with his capture of the post of superintendent, the DMST and the Corps once again rose to glory. At this point in time, all the best instructors, facilities, and logistics were made available to the Corps of Cadets. Moreover, alumni brods became more active in their participation in the various programs and activities of the Corps.

The post Vallejo period however, proved to be a very trying and difficult time. Worse, it coincided with the country’s sorry socioeconomic and political state. With the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino and the ensuing snap elections, the country was almost plunged into chaos, thwarted only by the EDSA revolution of 1986. However, the damage was already done. The bad image experienced by the AFP at that time brought about by the long years of martial rule and the series of failed coup attempts after EDSA, together with the Department’s lack of resources to properly conduct training as well as the UP studentry’s seeming apathy to the program, led to a nose- dive in cadet officer enrollment. To make matters worse, the U P DMST Armory, already depleted by the fire of 1970, was stripped of all its armaments by the Administration of that time.

The 90’s proved to be a continuation of the trend started by the post-Vallejo years. Cadet Officer enrollment continued to be low and the necessary resources remained lacking. At one point in time, cadets were constrained to use 2″ x 2″ wooden stakes to simulate rifles for drills.

Despite all these, the Department and the Corps remained optimistic. Traditions are still maintained-after all, these are the soul of the organization. Programmed activities are done, unprogrammed, but meritorious ones, are inserted. High standards of excellence and discipline are maintained. The corps now has fewer cadet officers and sponsors, but they are the best. Premium is always placed on quality, never on quantity. With the introduction of the expanded ROTC program, and the return of drill rifles to the UP Armory, the Department and the Corps are again back on its track of producing top quality men and women for the country. This may not be the best of times for many, but the Corps of Cadets lives, and exults in living.

Men of the UP Vanguard continue to answer the challenges of the rapidly changing times Vanguard men have occupied the top rungs of leadership in the national scene, whether it be President of the Republic, in Congress, the Judiciary, the Executive Branch and within the Armed Forces establishment.

History is replete with Vanguards who have willingly shed their blood for their country and fellowmen-of Vanguards who gave their lives for dreams stronger than death.

Vanguards have likewise excelled in the various departments and branches of Government and the private sector. Many stand as government executives and captains of commerce so much to national development.

The UP Vanguard can proudly say that it has provided service and leadership to the nation-facing undaunted the challenges and hurdling the various obstacles brought by the times. For indeed, Vanguards have decided not to go where the path leads them, but to go where there is no path and lead the way.

To the chosen few of the UP Vanguard, CONGRATULATIONS!

And let us again reaffirm our commitment to the shibboleths of



  1. Jaime M. Cortes ’58, THE UP ROTC STORY, UP Vanguard Souvenir Magazine, 18 March 1962.
  2. Benjamin Vallejo ’52, THE UP ROTC STORY AND VANGUARD STORY, UP Vanguard Inc. Souvenir Magazine, March 24, 1974.
  3. Cresenciano C. Santiago ’61, UP CORPS OF CADETS REVISITED, UP Vanguard Inc. Christmas Reunion Magazine, 1985
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