The curse of Cain

Posted by watchmen
September 27, 2017
Posted in OPINION

The death of Leandro ‘Lenny’ Villa in 1991 at the hands of his so-called “brothers” in the Aquila Legis fraternity led to the enactment of RA 8049, the Anti-Hazing Law. However, the law itself did not prevent fraternities from continuing the practice of hazing.
What prompts a person to pledge a fraternity? For some, it is for academic advancement and acquiring access to connections and prestige, with membership covering a plethora of fields, including politics, medicine, academia, the armed forces, among others; it could also just be a matter of curiosity.
Another reason one may join a fraternity is to gain a group of friends; one which shares the same ideals, has a good camaraderie, and develops leadership.
Some fraternities excel in community participation, conducting events such as blood-letting campaigns, clean-up drives, and medical missions.
Such qualities can appear enticing to potential members and since pledging a fraternity is voluntary, one should already be aware of the risks of joining such an organization.
Part of the pledging process is proving one’s worthiness, where those seeking to join are considered “neophytes” and treated like the lowest form of mammal. They are subject to mental and physical rigors – an experience similar to trying to enter the eye of a needle.
If one survives initiation, they become a full-fledged member. However, one a few survive.
The tale of Horatio ‘Atio’ Castillo III tells the story of a victim of the barbaric rituals employed by fraternities.
Castillo’s parents are seeking justice – a more polite (or civilized) way of expressing the anguish and rage felt following their son’s murder. His father decried how the fraternity treated his son “like an animal.”
The violent death of anybody, but especially a son, is unacceptable. It is a painful experience to lose a person who is a part of one’s life. Parents who witnessed their child develop into a responsible individual, with dreams, bear an unexplainable pain.
To have family die on principle and for the sake of a country, one feels that pain with a sense of pride. However, for a promising young man to die at the hands of his “brothers,” there is no solace, no refuge, and no hope – only bitterness and rage.
The cry for justice and the call for convictions on the part of those who contributed to his death have sprung up across social media. There was even a Senate hearing focused on Castillo’s case.
In the 22 years since the passage of the Anti-Hazing Law, there has only been one conviction recorded.
Justice has not been brought to victims and the law must be amended since fraternities have yet to learn the lesson from previous tragic hazing incidents.
In terms of culture, for fraternities, hazing is a part of life; it is the cement that binds the group together. The pattern of behavior and the culture comprise the basic ingredients of the cement.
It is a generational tradition that carries the spirit of “walang iwanan,” or Biblically speaking, “least your brethens;” we must share the same experience before entering a camaraderie.
In addition, our society tends to lean more collectivist, preferring a tightly-knit framework, where individuals depend on others to look after them. This ideology means loyalty to a group is a greater virtue than morality.
Collectivism for a fraternity emphasizes interpersonal relations, connections, pakikisama, kumparehan, or ritual kinship – the worst features of our culture.
According to social psychologist Gerard Hendricks Hofstede, western countries embrace individualism, which is comprised of a social framework where individuals are expected to take over themselves and their immediate family.
With the spirit of collectivism so alive in the Philippines, it explains why RA 8094 has only produced one conviction; does our justice system still hold on to the “rule of brotherhood?”
The medieval practice of subjecting a person to blind obedience, for the sake of earning loyalty, is barbaric and must be condemned. These practices create a cycle that corresponds with endless abuses and casualties.
The culture of fraternities has already hijacked the justice system, where members merely step forward to save the skin of their “brother” – it needs to change.
Is this a nation that exemplifies the national motto of “makatao… makadiyos?”
Instead of asking, “Why do you want to join a fraternity?” it should be phrased, “Why do you want to belong to a fraternity?” Belonging is our security blanket, which is rarely addressed. And one can be discouraged from joining a fraternity in the same way they can be discouraged from using illegal drugs.
While the concept of a fraternity is a good thing, the problem arises with their conduct. If this kind of violence prevails, then it is not a brotherhood, but the curse of Cain./WDJ

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