Two Noels - Part 1*

by Bro. Mark Francis C. Hamoy, '86D Acey-Deucey

Two Noels had an immeasurable influence on my young adult life and on my becoming and being an APO. Noel Frias Hipolito of Eta and Noel Melchor Cura Yap of Theta. As I mark my 20th year in the fraternity, I feel it timely to honor these two men and acknowledge the influence they had on my life.

Noel Hipolito introduced me to Alpha Phi Omega when I was just in high school. I got to know Noel through my cousin Nina, and in knowing him I got to know about Alpha Phi Omega. In fact it could be said that it was Noel’s influence that found myself and four cousins becoming members of Alpha Phi Omega at Theta.

Noel Hipolito was unabashed in his pride for his fraternity. Perhaps he found that the principles and ideals of Alpha Phi Omega reverberated at the core of his being that he just needed to speak about it to anyone who cared to listen. Or perhaps he felt that he discovered something so ennobling that he was compelled to share this with those he knew. It is perhaps likely that he found me a captive audience of one who listened with great interest to his stories about Alpha Phi Omega. Whatever his reasons were, I am thankful that he shared with me what he knew of Alpha Phi Omega. 

I was then just a scrawny probinsyano kid  who was plunked quite suddenly in the Big City, away from family and friends, after getting admitted to the Philippine Science High School. By the time I met Noel Hipolito, I was already struggling to make the grade at Pisay. I had moved out of the Boys’ Dorm on campus and Noel and his siblings willingly "adopted" me as a boarder in their apartment, first on Mapagkawanggawa Street in Teachers’ Village and then later along Kalayaan Avenue. I shared one room with Noel and his elder brother Ronnie, also an Eta brod.

Our room was plastered wall to wall with posters, many of which were for projects of Eta Chapter. In that room, I learned about the history of Alpha Phi Omega and discovered the principles and ideals set forth by our founder. To this day, I find it strange that some brods would be so secretive about Alpha Phi Omega whilst my experience with the Hipolito brothers was anything but that. To this day, I wonder why we view our membership as an exclusive privilege when Brother Frank fully intended for the fraternity to be an inclusive organization.

In that room, I learned about Leadership, Friendship, and Service. In that room, I learned about the Twelve Jewels. In that room, I learned the meaning of our great seal. In that room, I received my unofficial indoctrination about Alpha Phi Omega. And in that room, I made up my mind, even at that young age, that when I got to university I would be joining no other fraternity but the Alpha Phi Omega. My older cousins joined the Alpha Phi Omega earlier than I did, but I could say that I decided to become APO well ahead of them.

I would have become a brod at Eta as I was actually admitted to the Diliman campus, but since I had already spent four years of high school in the metropolis and with all of my cousins already studying at UPLB, I immediately requested a transfer of campus and started my freshman year in 1986 at the foothills of Mt. Makiling.

The apartment I shared with my cousins along Lopez Avenue was tambayan central for the brods and sisses of Theta and three batches of neophytes came to our apartment to report to my cousins during the first semester of 1986-1987. I purposely deferred my pledgeship until late November because I wanted to be initiated as part of an anniversary batch.

And so more than three years after having first learned of Alpha Phi Omega from Noel Frias Hipolito, I officially became his brother in Alpha Phi Omega. Needless to say, I already knew by heart what Alpha Phi Omega was all about. It simply became a matter of being actually able to live it out as a brother to all who came before me and to all who would come after me.

*Reposted from an earlier article on WordPress with minimal editing.

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