When will it end?

After weeks and weeks that seemed to stretch forever, it was the brods singing to my batchmates and me that made us realize:

It’s over!

“Here’s to Alpha Phi Omega,” and there we were, new loyal brothers we, being asked to join in the APO fellowship circle for the first time. The Toast Song brought us tears of joy for having passed the initiation. And it dawned on us:

We’re APO now, and APO is forever.

Forever started on December 16, 1925, when APO was founded at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. It was not until 1931, however, when Brother Dale Bartlett of Iowa adapted the tune “Alma Mater” for the first verse of the APO Toast Song, and it was not until the 1965-66 edition of the Pledge Manual that a second verse was published.

“Alma Mater” is a traditional school hymn in the United States. Many an American educational institution — from high school to university — has adopted “Alma Mater,” albeit with custom-tailored lyrics. Many a film on college life — including fraternities and sororities even — has featured the strain of “Alma Mater” as a paean — a song in=2 0praise of the institution and the loyalty and gratitude it inspires.

The Toast Song is sung differently by members of APO-USA and APO-Philippines, necessarily so because “Alma Mater” is part of the American cultural life, but it is alien to Filipinos as any other imported product. Brother Solomon George “Sol” Levy of Gamma Alpha chapter at University of Washington in Seattle might have sung it in tune when he introduced APO to Philippine Eagle Scouts in 1947, but could we fault him if he didn’t or if the first Filipino APO members had tin ears? Of course not.

Women were accepted as full-fledged APO members in 1968 in the Philippines and in 1976 in the United States. Up to now, even female members of APO-USA are called brothers, and the word “brothers,” the phrase “men of Alpha Phi Omega,” and the word “fraternity” remain unchanged in spite of spirited discussions and formal attempts at the biennial conventions to make the Toast Song gender-neutral, if not gender-specific.

All this time, Filipinos never give it a second thought: Males are brothers, females sisters. So, brods sing “loyal brothers we,” and sis sing “loyal sisters we;” brothers sing “men of Alpha Phi Omega, our fraternity,” and sisters sing “women of Alpha Phi Omega, our sorority.”

There is not one (1) set stage direction in singing the Toast Song. Just the same, since we sing in a fellowship circle (it is less of a circle if we leave our hands hanging down on the sides), putting one’s arms over the head and shoulders of members at either side makes sense. Then lowering one’s arms to clasp the hand of the members at either side makes more sense. The Filipino version makes less sense, since the position of hands already clasping hands does not change. But as far as genders go, we have it right: A brother or sister clasps the hands of brothers or sisters, as the case may be, or whichever word makes one comfortable if a brod and a sis are at either side.

And I like the Filipino finale a lot when we shout “ALPHA PHI OMEGA” and release our hands and lift up our right arm to form the Scout sign with our fingers as we sing “may we always be.”

I ‘fess up (although this is hardly news) that I tear up whenever I sing the Alpha Phi Omega Toast Song within a fellowship circle. I sometimes think people are affected differently by the same institution, but it’s when we sing the APO paean that I somehow know we’re singing a song in praise of the same institution that means a lot to the lives of many men and women, Americans and Filipinos alike, forever.

As a native-born Filipino and a naturalized American citizen, I feel blessed by the blend of the East and West within me, and I am privileged to learn the differences and similari ties of the two cultures that used to be Twain not meant to meet. It is not my eastern upbringing or western training, either. It is learning. For example, I learned “Philippines, My Philippines” or “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” was an adaptation of the carol “My Christmas Tree” only after I came over to the United States. Then I thought, was I patriotic when I sang “I love my own, my native land, Philippines, my Philippines” or “Ang bayan ko’y tanging ikaw, Pilipinas kong mahal” all the time I did not know it was an American Christmas song? I hope I was.

I have learned, to paraphrase the words of Carlos Bulosan, that America, the Philippines, and Alpha Phi Omega are in the heart. Let’s drink to that. One more time, with feeling: “Here’s to Alpha Phi Omega. . . . “


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News & Articles

Rest in Peace APO Past National President Carlos M. Caliwara, DY 1987~1989

Rest in Peace APO Past National President Carlos M. Caliwara, DY 1987~1989

The entire brotherhood and sisterhood of Alpha Phi Omega Philippines, Incorporated mourn the passing of one of its pillars, National President Carlos M. Caliwara, DY 1987~1989. Brod Caloy served as the Chair of the Technical Working Group/ConCon that drafted the 2017 APO Code of Bylaws ratified in the Gensan NBGA. Read More
April 15, 2019 / Comments

Newly Recognized Chapters and Alumni Associations as of April 2019

Congratulations to the Newly Recognized Chapters and Alumni Associations approved during the 8th Board of Trustees regular meeting April 14, 2019. Multi Purpose Hall, Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, Albay Fraternity Collegiate Chapters PC111 Philippine Law SchoolPasay City, NCARCharter No. 348Chapter name: XI XI (1414) PC087 FEU Nicanor Reyes Medical… Read More
April 15, 2019 / Comments
APO director bags Silver at 2019 New York Festivals

APO director bags Silver at 2019 New York Festivals

Congratulations to veteran director Bro. Aaron Mendoza, Eta'94 on your latest win at the New York Festivals last April 9, 2019.
April 10, 2019 / Comments

Deadline of Submission for Petitioning Groups

Please be informed that the deadline for submission of petitioning groups (Chapters and Alumni Associations) is on 30 March 2019. For your compliance.
March 26, 2019 / Comments

Notice for 31st General Assembly

Alpha Phi Omega Philippines, Incorporated will hold its 31st General Assembly Meeting on May 24-26, 2019 at the Plaza del Norte and Fort Ilocandia Hotels, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte with its slogan: “The future starts with us NOW.”
March 26, 2019 / Comments


To all our brother Muslims in the Philippines and the members of Alpha Kappa Rho Fraternity and the general public at large, please take notice that our fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega Philippines, Inc. or APO as we are commonly known, has nothing to do with the FB messages posted by… Read More
March 25, 2019 / Comments


With the issuance by the Securities and Exchange Commission of our Certificate of Filing of New By-Laws on July 6, 2018, we enjoin everyone to use our corporate name correctly, "ALPHA PHI OMEGA PHILIPPINES, INCORPORATED"
March 18, 2019 / Comments

Presidential Message on the occasion of APO Philippines’ 69th National Founding Anniversary

Brothers and sisters, today marks 69 years of Alpha Phi Omega in the Philippines,and we are stronger than ever. Congratulations and happy 69th anniversary to all of us!
March 1, 2019 / Comments

DPO and ROOM 214 Closure

Please be informed that ROOM 214 along with the resources contained therein including RAPOR will be temporarily shut down until further notice.
February 19, 2019 / Comments
APO receives award from the BSP

APO receives award from the BSP

Alpha Phi Omega Scouting Committee (District 6B) receives an award from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines – Manila Council as BEST IN MEMBERSHIP for Scouting Year 2018. Read More
January 10, 2019 / Comments