In the height of the presidency of Manuel Quezon, some students of the UP College of Law was motivated to dampen a threatened dictatorship about to be born with the creation of a “one-party” government in October 1939. With these, they aspire to be at the forefront of mobilizing the student body intro being a relevant factor not only in the campus but also in the national arena. These inspired them to form an organization that would be held together by fraternal bonds.
It was in this context that the "Association of the Philippine Barristers" was conceived. In November 1939, the Charter Members adopted the Greek letters A Φ B equivalent to the organization's initials. Charter member and respected nationalist-historian Renato Constantino wrote the Fraternity Motto "We shall not be saved without Wisdom, for Knowledge is Power, but only Wisdom is Liberty."
In 1940, the Fraternity expanded by using the academic proficiency, leadership capabilities, writing skills, and oratorical prowess as standard by which all aspirants are evaluated so that they may qualify for eventual admission to its Roll of Lords. Those with the scholastic qualifications, and showed potential for leadership in campus and national affairs, were invited to join. The neophytes were oriented to the ideals and aspirations of the founders. Those who decided to proceed with their applications were made to undergo tests in skills essential to prove their actual possession of perceived potential, and commitment to the ideals and causes of the founders.
By December 1941, the war in Europe had threatened to spread to the Pacific. The Brothers who were in the Philippine Army reserve were among the first to respond to the call to the colors and saw action in Bataan and Corregidor. The University was closed through the three years of Japanese occupation. But after the Battle for Manila was fought and won, the UP College of Law was re-opened at what was left of the Cancer Institute and the College of Engineering buildings on the Manila campus.
Then, the Fraternity was reactivated. Brothers Adriano Garcia, Arturo Atienza, Renato Constantino, Bienvenido Ejercito, and Benedicto Balderama were the moving spirits. They also formed the Board of Editors of the 1942-46 Philippinensian. Adriano Garcia, as President of the University Senior Council, headed the editorial board of the first postwar Philippinensian.
The 1950s marked the rise of the Alphans that would later mark the culture of honor, excellence and service to the country up to this day. Since then, the Fraternity has produced numerous University Student Council Chairs and Philippine Collegian Editors-In-Chief by winning the Editorial Exams. They also dominated in the field of forensics and debates by emerging as the unofficial debate champion of the World by defeating, Harvard University and University of Michigan, among others. Those who excelled in the different pillars of the Fraternity would later on ascend to public prominence by serving the people in the different fields like government.
Arturo B. Atienza, a seasoned campus debater, and a member of the College of Law debating team. He later rose to prominence as a law practitioner in Metro Manila.
Antonio L. Azores, who became the first University Student Council President in 1940, became a coconut tycoon, and later a law practitioner in Washington, D.C., USA.
Benedicto Balderrama, another member of the College of Law Debating Team, was elected first Lord Chancellor. He became a very prominent law practitioner in Metro Manila.
Renato E. Constantino was then the Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Collegian. He later became a brain trust to political figures, their resident intellectual counsel, an authority on history and nationalism, and a columnist in several newspapers and author of various history books.
Macario Cruz was a student leader, who later became Chief of the U.S. Veterans Administration Legal Department.
Bienvenido C. Ejercito, was an ROTC regimental commander and varsity letterman. He has risen through government service and is now an associate justice of the Court of Appeals.
Florencio B. Florendo was a very studious man who later rose to be a Regional Trial Court Judge and after retirement was elected to the post of Vice-Mayor of his hometown Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija.
Adriano R. Garcia was then president of the University Senior Council. He entered the Philippine Diplomatic Service and was hosted as Philippine Ambassador to key European capitals. His talents were recognized by the United Nations which posted him as its Chief of Mission in several South American countries.
Elias Lavadia was an ROTC Regimental Commander and varsity letterman. He became a General in the Philippine Air Force and was later the General Manager of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation.
Rustico V. Nazareno had a reputation for scholarship in the College of Law. He later became an institution in Law practice.
Rosendo J. Nuval was another student with good brains who later became a Commodore in the Philippine Navy.
Francisco Sumulong had good grades in the College of Law. After graduate studies abroad, he established his reputation in law practice, entered politics and served his district in Rizal as Congressman and Assemblyman. He served as the Majority Floor Leader of the House of Representatives.
Gerardo Tioseco was another scholar who eventually earned his place as a businessman and co-owner of SUGECO, an industrial carmaker.
Teodosio V. Valenton was a student leader with good grades. After graduation, he practiced law and became the mayor of Talavera, Nueve Ecija. After politics, he resumed practice and was owner of a Technical College in Manila, and became an agribusiness entrepreneur.
Manuel Vijungco was a law student with excellent grades. He became a reputed law practitioner specializing in transportation cases, a publisher of trade publications and is now APT-elected Board Chairman of the Pantranco North Express Incorporated, and Chairman of its Executive Management Committee.
Jose Villacorta is another popular campus figure with good grades. He became prominent as a law practitioner and later was a city fiscal of Caloocan City until he retired.
Manuel Vistan Jr. was a star varsity letterman in basketball. He later went into law practice and was in movie production until his untimely demise.
Exequiel M. Zaballero Jr. was a student leader. He rose to prominence as a law practitioner and a coconut producer in his province, until he died at an early age.
Professor Ambrossio Padilla was a unanimously elected as the Charter Adviser of the fraternity. He became a prominent law a practitioner, a professor of law, Solicitor General, and later a Senator. After his retirement from politics, he resumed his lucrative law practice until his untimely demise.
The founding Brothers were men of diverse persuasions and varied interests. For its philosophy, the founders adopted the guidelines: ”We shall not be saved without wisdom, for knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty.”