Mom, frat man-prof on willing hazing victims
My column “Hazing victims, willing victims” (Inquirer, 8/2/12) drew many reactions from readers. As the title suggested, it was about putting the blame also on the willing victims and not just on those doing the hazing in order to prevent students from joining “brotherhoods” that inflict violence on candidates.
Law student Marc Andre Marcos of San Beda Law School (run by Benedictine monks) died last week after initiation rites of the Lex Leonum Fraternitas, which is not recognized by the school.
Among the letters I received, one was from a mother and another from a frat man-university professor-government official. Neither wants to be identified.
The mother wrote: “I read your article and I could not help but cry. If you have the time, please read the open letter that I have been wanting to write for over a decade now… I am keeping [myself] anonymous due the sensitive intricacies in the fraternity to which [my husband] belongs.
“Your article struck a very raw nerve because my husband is a victim of hazing, a willing victim. He entered law school and joined his fraternity after our children were born. As if he didn’t have enough brothers and sisters, he sought the brotherhood of more…
“In college, we both laughed at the senseless rumbles in our campus. Instead, we both joined school organizations where we met true brothers and sisters with whom we formed true and real bonds.
“There were telltale signs, albeit few and far between—his repeated requests for ‘permission’ to join, and his suddenly wearing, for two straight days, his one and only jogging pants which he had never worn before.
“We were happily married. We had beautiful kids. And in spite of the fact that he was studying he was able to support us with his business while I also worked. We were a picture of a happy family. A decent house, good cars, cute kids, frequent vacations, a happy marriage. Were we not enough for him?…
“Everything you said in your article is true. And as I read your article the memories of that day when I first caught sight of his ube-colored thighs and arms came rushing back. His story did not end the same way that the lives of Marc Andre Marcos, Lenny Villa and a long list of neophytes ended…
“It took a while before we spoke again, and before the words ‘fraternity’ and the name of his fraternity were ever uttered in my presence.
“I have been wanting to write about what happened in order to tell the world that the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 is one big lie. Because hazing is still pretty much around. And the elders, the so called senior brods, some of [whom] were part of the Congress that passed the law, all know that there is still hazing.
“But you are right [in saying] that grieving families should ‘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.”
“It is for this reason that I have written an open letter to my 11-year-old son. I hope you will publish this so that today’s generation, whose minds can still be swayed by their parents, would know that it is okay not to follow tradition, and that one’s right to life is his own, not his father’s.”
The “Dear Son” letter, edited for length, is in the Letters page. Here’s the other letter:
“I am a frat man. There was a time when we, the alumni of the frat, debated on the matter but for some reason the debate lost steam. Not that we did not want to pursue it; the debate simply got sidetracked by other matters. It could resume anytime.
“Physical initiation is a tradition that would be difficult to abolish. But it is of course possible at least to minimize it. There are in fact proposals and proponents in our frat for alternative modes of initiation.
“Pending the changes, we have so far avoided deaths or life-threatening injuries. This may be because we had exercised certain measures to protect neophytes from the more serious dangers that could result from initiation. I don’t know if these measures are still followed by the younger ones. Probably yes, and we have not heard of any untoward incident. We also usually caution younger ones, and the alumni are also informed of situations by the young ones. Our frat is spread nationwide.
“Here are the measures we follow: 1) A responsible officer must be present during the rites. His responsibility includes making sure that the initiation does not go out of bounds; this includes putting a stop to the initiation if it endangers the neophyte, even if it is unfinished. Another member, the recruiter, takes care of the neophyte. 2) Strict limitations to [the] physical initiation could apply—never on the head, torso and other critical parts. 3) No alcoholic drinks. 4) Constant checking of the neophyte’s status, including asking him directly [about] his condition. 5) Readiness to see a doctor and report to alumni leadership of any problem.
“Please take note that this does not seek to sustain having physical initiation. As I’ve said, there are moves to abolish or minimize it. What I am trying to say is that while it may not yet be abolished—it could even go underground in the face of legal measures against it—the measures we exercise [have] helped the frat avoid the lethal consequences of physical initiation.
“Well, this may not be good writing for public consumption as the young ones may get encouraged to continue with the practice. I actually initiated the debate in the frat for the abolition or drastic modification of physical initiation. [It was] welcomed by many.”
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