The Birth of a Brotherhood
DViole Ramel, Cavite Varsitarian, and Mon Cher Ami Society were the key players in the formation of the Dons Fraternity. The following turn of events describe how these three clubs evolved into the Dons brotherhood.
DViole Ramel was a group of close friends who threw exclusive parties for the cream of Cavite Citys young society. These guys loved traveling to far away places to attend big parties at town plazas hosted by clubs in high social standing which is where this close-knit group got the inspiration and vision to plan extravagant parties in Cavite. In the latter years (1959-60), only 6 out of 11 members stayed intact and they were Jun Roxas, Bob Icayan, Cheer Genoso, Celso Alvarez, Benjie Kalugdan, and Arthur Cajulis.
Young students who were studying at the Manila colleges and universities formed Cavite Varsitarian in 1957. Because of the clash among personalities early on, this association never managed to fully develop as a social club. Some members broke away and formed Mon Cher Ami. The core members who remained in the varsitarian were Cesar Gutierrez (then-President), Boy Quion, Jun de Castro, Alex Tirona, and other loyal buddies.
Members who left the Cavite Varsitarian organized Mon Cher Ami in early 1958. This newly formed club consisted primarily of younger folks in Cavite City and quickly became popular and gained admiration. But, weakened by internal and external pressures, Mon Cher Ami collapsed in 1962 and never recovered. Mon Cher Ami is still remembered as a celebrated social club that once existed in Cavite City.
One Saturday night in early 1960, while hanging around the Central Theatre refreshment parlor, DViole Ramel members casually met with some Cavite Varsitarian members and discussed the feasibility of joining forces to form a united organization. Inspired by the shared desire to rival or out-do Mon Cher Ami, both camps tentatively agreed to a union; Bob Icayan proposed the name Dons Club which stands for respect and nobility. They agreed that the members would be carefully selected based on social status and career in college; and that future recruitment would be by invitation only.
Laying the Foundation
On May 1, 1960, the organizational meeting was held in a Cavite High School classroom and Jun Roxas was elected President. The members agreed that Dons Club be changed to Dons Fraternity. Frequent meetings and functions were held at the old Pagoda Restaurant to shape the new fraternitys development. Articles of Incorporation and By-laws were drafted and passed to govern the Dons affairs. In this fraternal society, members held mutual respect for each others personalities, opinions, and goals; they gained strength from shared interests, objectives, and standards. A civic-minded organization, always willing to give back to the community, the fraternity has accomplished several humanitarian drives and public-service projects over the years, earning the respect and appreciation of both the community and city government. The first major project was the Operation Quick Count conducted for the 1961 elections.
The Dons celebrated their first anniversary in May 1961 with a strictly formal reception & dance at the officers club of the Cavite Naval Base in Cavite City. The quality décor, music (by then-famous Fred Nepomuceno and his orchestra), guests, and the members organizational planning all contributed to the success of an event which was considered unparalleled at that time. The news of the grandeur and dignity of the party spread, marking the start of the Dons popularity.
The successive themed May anniversary balls (like the striking Medieval Royalty, Roman Splendor, Gay Paree, Aire de Espana, Wonder of Egypt, and Fantasyland themes) and November Fiesta Eve jam sessions/discos (like the notable West Side Story, Ride Vaquero, RedBluetion, Bonnie & Clyde, Apache Pow-Wow themes) catapulted the Dons to a social prominence extending even beyond Cavite City; placing the Dons a level above the local youth organizations. Each success was due to the creative ability, unique ideas, extensive know-how, and concerted effort put together by the members.
Evolution of the Dons
In 1972, the Article on Memberships was amended to eliminate the bachelor-only membership so that married members could be classified as honorary members, reinstated into active status and enjoy the same privilege as a full pledge.
In 1978, the Dons decided to create a permanent ladies affiliate and named it the Dons Ladies Board in place of the Ladies Committee. The Ladies Board gave formal structure to the Dons female colleagues, who were instrumental in all of the fraternitys endeavors. One of their tasks was to manage the annual Cotillion, the choreographed dance presentation following the crowning of the Fraternity Sweetheart. They became integral to every success, honor, and glory the Dons achieved. The first appointed Chairlady was Nonah del Rosario, followed by Grace Guerrero. Batch Barron, a past Fraternity Sweetheart, led the advisory council.
The Valentines Day of 1979 marked the formal turnover of the Clock Towerbuilt at the city park facing the city hallto the city government. The simple ceremony was highlighted with blessing & prayer, the ritual remarks from then-Most Grand Don Edward Johnson and from then-City Mayor Eddie de Guzman. A great number of Dons and select city government officials witnessed this solemn rite. This public service landmark at the park was the Dons gift of love to the people of Cavite City.
Like many other organizations, the Dons also experienced inevitable periods of idleness but not to mean the Dons had faded away. In truth, the spirit of brotherhood and the love for the fraternity never lost steam as the slogan goes: In brotherhood the Dons live, in honor and glory the Dons thrive.