The UP Portia Sorority is the only college-based sorority in the University of the Philippines College of Law. Since its establishment in 1933, it has been dedicated to furthering social consciousness and academic excellence inside and outside the legal arena. As testimony to this dedication, the Portia Sorority has bred legal luminaries such as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno, Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera, Justice Irene Cortes, Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, Justice Minita Chico-Nazario, Justice Flerida Ruth Romero, and Sis Haydee Bofil Yorac to name a few. Others have chosen to serve in the academe, while others have been called to solidify the imprint of Filipino beauty and excellence in the global arena such as Sis Anna Theresa Luy Licaros, Bb. Pilipinas – Universe 2007. This track record of excellence reflects upon the Sorority’s commitment to practicing law in the grand manner.
The UP Portia Sorority was organized in December 5, 1933 and was originally known as the Portia Club. The former Dean Jorge Bocobo noted a significant increase in the number of female law students enrolled in the UP College of Law. He thought it necessary that the women students group themselves into an organization to attain harmony in their relations with one another, and to achieve maximum effectivity in campus activities.
Pacita Delos Reyes-Phillips, a noted lawyer, beauty queen, and social figure, was the Portia Club’s first Lady President. The founding members were some of the well-known women in the legal profession, including Justice Cecilia Munoz-Palma, Corazon Juliano-Agrava, Felisa Dela Fuente-Samson, Elvira Bocobo-De Castro, Sumilang Bernardo, Eugenia Banzon-Jose, Liwayway Bacarin-Fuentes, Angelica Bellarmino, Salud Oliveros-Lustre, Elisa Santillan, Remedios Acosta Azurin, Elisa Estrella-Hilario, Felicidad Arce, Clarita Cartera, Lydia Lorento, Angelica Mara-Santos, Flor Liza Valino-Tajonera, Beatriz Talavera-Morales and Olivia Calupang-Causing.
As a Social and Cultural Organization
Portia started out as a mere social organization. Its first social activity was a tea party in honor of its officers at the residence of the first Lady President, Pacita delos Reyes-Phillips. This was followed by exclusive social affairs organized by the club and participation in the annual Law Jamboree Day, which was celebrated annually to foster closer relationships among the students of the College of Law. It was celebrated either in the form of a big acquaintance party, an excursion or a cruise wherein the students chose the “Goddess of the Sea”, which was won by Miss Phillips twice. The club also actively participated in university gatherings and social activities sponsored by other colleges.
The intention of Portia Club of providing a social outlet for its members was successfully carried out under the able leadership of Pacita delos Reyes-Phillips and Elvira Bocobo-de Castro (1934-35). It must be noted that although the College of Law has never discriminated against the acceptance of women students, very few women were interested in entering the college in those days. Those who did were inclined to work too hard. Because a person’s life should not be all work and no play, the Portia Club provided a social outlet for its members.
In 1935, during the presidency of Felisa dela Fuente (1935-36), the club decided that in addition to providing a social outlet for its members, it should also adopt a program of activities conducive to the cultural development of its members. The Portia Club then started to sponsor convocation programs, symposia, and debates. They were also very active in campus politics. In fact, Portia’s President and Vice-President were accorded automatic membership in the Student Council. This privilege was enjoyed by the Club until the term of Remedios Balderama in 1953. The tradition of the annual induction ball for new members also began during the term of Miss dela Fuente.
As a College Sorority
The outbreak of World War II brought with it the suspension of all the UP organizations’ activities, including the Portia Club’s. The war also brought with it the destruction of the Club’s records during the pre-war days. No copy of the Constitution during the term of office of Elvira Bocobo-de Castro was available. In 1945, Lady President Gregoria Arnaldo–Cruz appointed Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera and Emma Quisumbing-Fernando to draft a new constitution for the Club. The year 1946 was a momentous year for the Club. Under Lady President Ameurrfina Melencio-Herrera, bar top-notcher and former Justice of the Supreme Court, the new constitution became operative and the Club became a Sorority, falling under the jurisdiction of the University Council Committee on Students’ Extra-Curricular Activities (COSECA) headed by the Dean of Student Affairs. The Portia Sorority acquired an exclusive home on campus, the Portia Room, during the presidency of Delia Medina (1950-51). It was and still is a combined lunch-study-rest and dressing room.
Under the presidency of Concepcion Lim-Jardeleza, in 1974, Portia became instrumental in initiating Philippine Participation in the Annual Jessup Moot Court competition in International Law. In 1995, the UP Law Jessup Team headed by Portians Lui Bunggo and LP Suzette Suarez, bagged top honors in the competition held in New York and Philadelphia. In 2011, Elaine Balicoco Tiu was named Best Speaker in the Pi Sigma Debate Tournament.
Through the years, several Portians have also served their fellow students through positions in the University Student Council, Law Student Government, UP Bar Operations Commission, and the College of Law Electoral Judicial Tribunal.
As a Continuing Legacy
Today, Portia continues to be dedicated to a culture of excellence and social relevance. This has placed many sisters in the illustrious membership of the Order of the Purple Feather, the UP Law’s Honor Society, as well as in the Philippine Law Journal. This heritage of deeds done honorably and plans executed nobly is a proud possession of every Portian and it is hoped that every member and every aspiring Portian will strive to live up to its tradition of excellence.
UP Portia Sorority's culture and priorities can best be seen through its regular activities. In its quest to be a truly responsive and responsible sisterhood, Portia has been known to support a variety of activities which cater to the whole law population. It has established the Portia Scholarship Fund for deserving women students who are in need of financial assistance. It has contributed funds for the completion of the UP Law Complex. It also joined hands with other student groups in the College in working for the recognition of students' rights and maintenance of high academic standards.
The Sorority has always been an advocate of the arts, annually sponsoring art exhibits, film showings, concerts, and theatrical plays.
But it is also not without its serious side. Every year, it conducts Bar Operations for its member examinees with aid ranging from academic and logistical to moral and emotional. It has previously held several talks and forums on various pressing issues – Press Conference: Manifesto on Violence against Lawyers (in cooperation with CODAL), Civil Liberties Forum, Forum on Proclamation 1017 and participates in the University-wide Alternative Classroom Learning Experience program. In 2008, it also upheld its commitment to women's rights as it initiated and participated in different seminars and discussions on gender sensitivity, anti-violence against women and their children, anti-sexual harassment, and the HB 5042 on the Reproductive Health Bill.
The members have a great sense of fun and camaraderie, as exhibited by their constant participation in several LSG programs catering to the lighter side of life in law school such as the Freshman Week (where Portia usually sponsors the Vice Relay), Freshman Night, and Malcolm Madness. But more importantly, it is the Portians' commitment to nurture their friendship and sisterhood that best illustrates the strength of the Sorority. Every year, they hold the annual Induction Ball to welcome new sisters as well as to establish closer ties with their fellow residents.
The UP Portia Sorority has its heart in the right place. Its members annually share their talents and time with aspiring UP and UP law students via the Portia Sorority's UPCAT and LAE Review, as well as with less-fortunate children through the Tahanan Outreach Program and Services Outreach (TOPS) during the Christmas season.
- Pacita delos Reyes-Phillips – 1929 Miss Philippines
- Cecilia Munoz-Palma – first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines
- Gregoria Cruz-Arnaldo – former Insurance Commissioner
- Corazon Juliano-Agrava – Chairperson of the Agrava Fact-Finding Commission
- Ma. Lourdes Aranal-Sereno – first female Supreme Court Chief Justice of the Philippines
- Teresita Leonardo-De Castro – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera – former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Flerida Ruth Romero - former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Conchita Carpio-Morales – Ombudsman of the Philippines, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Minita Chico-Nazario – former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Consuelo Ynares-Santiago – former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Haydee Yorac – public servant, law professor, and politician
- Fe B. Barin – current Chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission
- Araceli Baviera – law professor, civilist
- Myrna Feliciano - law professor
- Ma. Clara Lopez-Campos - law professor
- Concepcion Lim-Jardeleza - law professor
- Ma. Lourdes (Honey) Oliveros - lifestyle columnist, travel magazine editor-in-chief
- Anna Teresa Licaros - Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2007, Miss Photogenic awardee - Miss Universe 2007
- Lady President: Ellen Faye Loresca Celso
- Internal Vice President: Mica Maurinne Maranan Adao
- External Vice President:Korina Ana Toscano Manibog
- Executive Secretary: Joyce Dianne Jose De Guzman
- Deputy Secretary for Bar Operations: Amirah Luterio Penalber
- Assistant Secretary for Bar Operations: Ma. Lia Karen Seelin Magtibay
- Deputy Secretary for Academics: Kyra Vernice Gaerlan Salayog
- Treasurer: Luz Concepcion Marquez Baldueza
- Assistant Treasurer: Frodina Mafoxci Jaramillo Rafanan
- Business Manager: Jamie Katrina Fangonil Chan
- Assistant Business Manager: Ma. Victoria Angeles Tiangco
- Public Relations Officer: Maria Karla Rosita Vistan Bernardo
- Second Year Representative: Therese Anjelica Magpantay Buergo
- Third Year Representative: Sherlyn Lourdes Tan Bautista
- Fourth Year Representative: Xel Alessandra Robles Quitain
- Evening Representative: Giselle Pampilon Hernandez
- House Custodian: Ruth Binayug Guinto