Huwebes, Hulyo 3, 2014

Brotherhood is not violence

by Gregorio V. Bituin Jr.

The recent death of a neophyte due to hazing is a very alarming one. It make fraternities uncivilized groups. There were so many young men who died because of hazing, young men who have dreams of a better future ahead of them.

The objective of fraternity is brotherhood, and that is also its meaning. Fraternity came from Latin word "frater" which means "brother". According to Wikipedia, "a fraternity is an organized society of men associated together in an environment of companionship and brotherhood; dedicated to the intellectual, physical, moral, religious, and/or social development of its members." Hazing, on the other hand, "is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group. Hazing is often prohibited by law and may comprise either physical or psychological abuse."

A fraternity is about fellowship with our brothers, like a Knight with their fellow Knight. I was just an Squire then when I joined a fraternity with my classmates in high school. And I thank that it was not so violent. But we sometimes did a 15 seconds rumble in our classroom with our brothers / classmates with most of us laughing, although we felt pains, after that physical activity.

Although there's some physical violence then, fraternity is not violence. Being in a fraternity is being brothers with our fellow members. A paddle is part of welcoming new members. But wooden paddle was associated with physical violence, and almost became a symbol for hazing. But wooden paddle is not violence, the act of paddling is.

In our country, a list of those who died in hazing grows bigger, with the recent death of Guillo Cesar Servando, a student of La Salle College of St. Benilde.

Our comrade activist, Alex Icasiano, leader of Sanlakas Youth, is one of them. He died of hazing in 1997. There are more. Marc Andre Marcos of San Beda College of Law, neophyte of Lex Leonum Fraternitas (LLF), July 2012; Marvin Reglos, also of San Beda College of Law, February 2012, who died on the Lambda Rho Beta initiation beating; E.J. Karl Intia, University of Makati, Alpha Phi Omega, May 2011. Leonardo “Lenny” Villa, neophyte of Aquila Legis Juris fraternity, in February 1991.

In 2009, Glacy Monique Dimaranan, 15-year-old girl, believed to be a confraternity neophyte of Scout Royal Brotherhood, was accidentally shot to death during the initiation rites in Biñan, Laguna. John Daniel L. Samparada, 18, a student of Lyceum of the Philippines in General Trias, Cavite, and said to be a recruit of Tau Gamma Phi fraternity, died due to hazing in Estrella Hospital in Silang, Cavite. Elvis Sinaluan, 21, neophyte of Scout Royal Brotherhood in Alfonso, Cavite, died October 2009. Nor Silongan, 16, criminology student at Notre Dame of Tacurong College, neophyte of Tau Gamma Phi, died Sept. 15, 2011. Noel Borja, 17, an Alternative Learning Systems student, neophyte of Tau Gamma Phi, Parola, Binondo, Manila, died Oct. 27, 2010.

EJ Karl Intia, 19, student of the University of Makati, neophyte of Alpha Phi Omega, his body was retrieved from a ravine in Sta. Maria, Laguna province, August 15, 2010. Menardo Clamucha Jr., 18, criminology student at the University of Iloilo, died from heavy beatings, neophyte of Kapatiran ng mga Kabataang Kriminolohiya in Pototan town in Iloilo province, July 18, 2010.  Chester Paulo Abracias, 18, student at Enverga University in Lucena City, neophyte of Tau Gamma Phi, his body was found wrapped in banana leaves and a blanket in a coconut plantation, August 2008.

But why are there many deaths during initiations? There are many reasons. And I just want to speculate. Some students join a fraternity probably because they want to belong to a group, while others were forced to join because of peer pressure. Sometimes they join fraternity to avoid being bullied, and to have protection. Some feel the need of a fraternity to have connections, probably in politics or business. And some felt prestigious to join a fraternity, most especially if it’s at a law school. Even if there are so many promising students who died because of hazing, others will still join because they need it, like those mentioned above.

The problem is they want protection from their would-be brothers, but what they met is death. They want to belong to a group, but that group was the cause of their death. They want recognition, but how do we recognize them if they were gone?

Hazing is not brotherhood, and brotherhood is not violence. Initiation rites should not be bloody. The wrong culture of brotherhood should ba replaced by a right culture. The culture of blood should be replaced by a culture of brotherly love.

Paddling is violence because it inflict pain in the neophyte. The paddling in an initiation rites must be replaced by a non-violent means, such as an exercise, which is not painful and bloody. Initiation rites must be revised in a fraternity.

Fraternities will not be gone, as long as many people wanted to belong to a group and band together for a common purpose. Because belonging to a group is humane, and no man is an island. But such belonging to a group should be justifiable, non-violent and should respect the rights of those concerned.

R.A. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law is not enough, as long as initiation rites of every fraternities and secret societies are not revised.

I suggest that the government or respective groups or agencies join hands and band together with fraternities to have a common agreement that fraternities should revise those bloody initiation rites to become a humane ritual of welcoming neophytes.

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