In July 2013, Fresh Men University (FMU) was established by Edgar Zara Cornelio with the members of the Chamber of Secrets- Freshmen 3 or COSF3 (which is an “exclusive” gathering of people who called themselves as the “Half Blood Princes” or HBP).
The group started with only 32 pioneering members, “committed in people-building, providing awareness, and promoting honor and equality in the LGBTQI community,” said Cornelio.
As the clan grew, and emphasizing how it is taking its “university” appellation seriously – though it also playfully reverts back to the fantastical – FMU eventually established the “houses” (that is, the chapters) of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. The highest governing body of FMU is known as the “Order of the Phoenix”.
Further highlighting the growth of the clan, membership diversified. The COSF3- Half Blood Prince and the FMU Graduate School eventually became the gathering for the pioneering and loyal members (who are also known as Iskolars). And there are now also three constituency groups known as FMU International School of Professionals; FMU: The Southern Luzon Campus for the Royal Bloods; and FMU: The Central Luzon Campus for the Start-up Royalties.
“(We start with) one bold idea. That’s all it takes,” said Cornelio, who is cognizant that “as part of the LGBTQI community, the way to succeed is to double the rate of failure. FMU treats challenges and failures as opportunities to begin again more intelligently.”
Key issues that the clan is facing include: lack of funding, opposition from forces in the community, and interpersonal problems often rear the heads of the officers.
To deal with their concerns, Cornelio said transparent participatory leadership becomes key. “To be transparent and have good governance, in every event, proper liquidation is a must. In addition, FMU leaders bring such challenges as motivating factors for the members to keep them from stagnating when they’re doing well,” he said.
Cornelio added: “(We) focus on the problem at hand and what possible solutions there may be. Always anticipate the worst case scenarios, and draft solutions to address the problems.”
Cornelio said that what makes FMU different from other LGBTQI groups is “our solid bond we have. “
FMU, by the way, topped a survey on the “hot” clans in the Philippines, making it “2014’s most powerful bi-group”, proudly said Cornelio, who attributes this success to FMU’s intent to “promote awareness regarding current events and other important issues not only those related to the LGBTQI community; upholding of the honor of everyone; and focus on creating excellence.”
Thus far, FMU’s efforts include their group-building cum confidence-building activities like the launching of the “Start-up Stars”, “K-Pop Invades FMU”, “Build. Play. Enjoy… Cosplay!”, “FMU Star ng Pasko”, “RAMPorma 2014: The Freshot Bachelors of FMUberkada”, and “FMU Summer Natin ‘To!”.
“We have developed and are still continuing developing partnerships with different organizations to promote (our members’) involvement of the LBGTQI community,” Cornelio said. “We will never stop creating life-changing events for the LGBTQI community as we lift FMU’s banner.”
Future plans include: fundraising activities to benefit impoverished children in Quezon City; hosting of beauty pageant to ascertain Miss Freshman University 2014 on June 28; holding a team building activity in August; and organizing of an HIV awareness program with DKT Philippines Inc.
To be part of FMU, those interested may contact Magnumboi Kanade Jr., headmaster of Gryffindor House at (+63) 9265840708; Kenjo Secacc, headmaster of Hufflepuff House at (+63) 9051731453; Emjhay Nudo, headmaster of Ravenclaw House at (+63) 9359136409; and Jm Jabson, headmaster of Slytherin House at (+63) 9265908238. For more information on FMU, visit the clan’s Facebook page.