Hazing victims, willing victims
This is an unpopular, even tactless, thing to say while a family is grieving the loss of a beloved— that hazing victims are partly to blame for their own deaths. That they had it coming. It is not nice to blame the dead. But things need to be said.
Another willing victim, a law student, is dead. Sue me for saying willing victim. WV, how un-cool.
I have yet to hear bereaved families and friends of hazing victims say that their dear departed were willing victims, if not somewhat hesitant ones. I have yet to hear weeping parents say this in order to warn would-be victims and prevent more senseless deaths among the young who walk willingly into the valley of death.
What one hears from families are cries for justice and retribution, which, of course, need to be made. The blame is always heaped on the hazers who are alive and walking, that is, the fraternity brods who wield paddles, whips and baseball bats in the name of brotherhood and loyalty. They who had once been brutalized themselves and survived, and who are “paying it forward” with the same physical cruelty. As they say, there are no sadists where there are no masochists.
Among those who had survived by the skin of their teeth, had anyone come forward to say it was all wrong and then severed ties with the so-called brotherhood? Ex-cultists who survived with soupy brains have done better.
The grieving should go beyond extolling the virtues of their dear departed, they should go beyond lamenting the unfulfilled promises and the dreams that were laid to waste. Yes, we commiserate and sympathize. But not you, not I, who have not experienced this kind of loss, can ever understand or fathom their pain. We can only shudder as we behold the weeping. This is my way of saying that this kind of loss should not happen to anyone.
Grieving families should do more than just blame the perpetrators, that is, the fraternities that inflicted the death blows. They should go out there and tell the bright but gullible young—in the strongest, un-coolest words—that it is stupid, katangahan and kabobohan to allow one’s self to be beaten black and blue. That is almost like saying their dear departed belong to that category. But how to explain law students getting misled to think that a true brother inflicts physical pain and even sends brothers to the morgue, if not to the ICU, there to languish like pinikpikan?
Pinikpikan (live chicken slowly beaten black and blue then cooked and served as a delicacy in the northern region) is prolonged animal cruelty that should not be inflicted on fish or fowl and must be outlawed. Imagine having Chicken Hematoma on the restaurant menu. I mean to be graphic, no apologies.
We don’t want winged creatures to suffer that way, so why should humans be subjected to the same cruelty? And why should one willingly allow the brutality to be inflicted on oneself?
Doctors and morticians have tired explaining why a hazing victim succumbed—multiple organ failure, internal hemorrhage, even heart attack and all that. Psychologists keep explaining the whys—the need to belong, false sense of brotherhood, etc. The police tell the media the where, what, when, how. The media even show quick flashes of the victims’ kulay talong (eggplant color) physical state. Kulay ube (violet, like ube), a straight-faced lawyer said of his dead client the other day. Post mortem, the morning after.
The Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 is there, but it has not served as a deterrent, as evidenced by the deaths. The law is, at its best, punitive. Life imprisonment for the guilty, thank you. Parents who lost sons numbly walk out of the courtroom carrying in their hearts the sad refrain, “Nothing will bring them back to life.”
But can more lives be saved? There seems to be a lack of early warning devices (EWD in traffic parlance). The more graphic and out-of-the-box the better. A kulay talong limb on tarp? Students declaring hazing as un-cool, cowardly, sadistic and masochistic? One student said on TV the other day that he didn’t need to join a frat, he had enough friends and felt confident with himself. So why join frats that would make you cry, “Mama”?
Some frats with mysterious-sounding Greek letter names are known for their supposed brotherhood that goes beyond university and into their legal and political careers, even allegedly influencing their decisions—right or wrong. Several years ago, the revered Sen. Jovito Salonga publicly announced his resignation from his University of the Philippines Sigma Rho fraternity after an initiate died because of hazing.
Some law school frats are named after their school symbols. Top predators like the eagle, the lion. There is Aquila Legis of law students of Ateneo de Manila University and Lex Leonum Fraternitas of San Beda students. Both have figured in hazing deaths. The latest, Marc Andrei Marcos, reportedly died in the hands of Lex Leonum frat men.
Many years ago I wrote a long magazine feature on those accused for the hazing death of Lenny Villa, a law student of Ateneo. The title was “Cry, Eagles.” They sure had many reasons for crying, among them, the death of their brod-to-be, and the cold iron bars that awaited them. It took many years for justice to be served, and it was not even served completely, if you ask Lenny’s family.
How wrong for frat men to equate their frats’ cruelty with the power, fierceness and mystery of their symbols. Speaking of eagles and lions, these amazing wild creatures are true to their essence, they consume only what they need, they are not cruel and greedy. Humans have a lot to learn from their swiftness, strength and precision. A wrong move on your part, you get devoured.
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