Category: frats

level up, frats!

been bloggging for 10 years this september and, of course, i’ve blogged about hazing and frats before, twice referring to dr. godofredo stuart jr’s updated online essay Hazing in the Philippines, and doing it again, zeroing in this time (after last night’s senate hearing on horacio castillo III’s hazing death) on why fraternities need not be banned, and / but why RA 8049 doesn’t work, and how macho frats could level up the hazing from violent pits to noble heights.


Every time a death occurs, part of the hue-and-cry is to ban, dissolve, or prohibit fraternities, and the question inevitably raised: Do fraternities have a place in society?

Outlawing fraternities will do nothing but drive them underground. Besides, fraternities provide for various human needs — a surrogate family, a place for young men and women to forge friendships, bonding, and trust, a milieu of kindred spirits, a place to experience community. It is the hazing that is the unnecessary ritual, and the deaths from it so senseless.

Hazing wasn’t part of the Greek and medieval origins of fraternities. Hazing took roots in that period of change when the ancient rituals and classic traditions of intellectual explorations and expressions were disappearing. Now, what remains in some (most?) fraternities are the Greek letters, symbols and crests, hedonistic extracurricular pursuits, and its annual ritual of hazing.

Hazing is the fraternity’s murderous thorn on its side. Many organizations, schools and universities have banned it, but to no avail. The deaths continue. In 1995, the anti-hazing law, Republic Act No. 8049, was approved by President F. Ramos. The law is impressively replete with definitions, liabilities and penalties — reclusion perpetua, reclusion temporal, prison mayor, prison correcional. Yet, it has woefully failed to stop the beatings and deaths. And in the theater of the courts, the guilty have always managed to skillfully mitigate culpability through avenues of twisted legalese, loopholes, and appeals.

It’s a law that lacks teeth, rife with flaws. It allows hazing or initiation rites with ridiculous conditions that seem to not recognize the potential for violence: That prior notice is given seven (7) days before, that it must not exceed three (3) days, that no physical violence be employed, that two school or fraternity representatives be present.

And alcohol? It is ubiquitous in our celebratory gatherings. Certainly so, in initiation rituals. It shouldn’t take much to imagine how much of the violence is fueled by alcohol. And despite the fact that 82% of deaths from violent hazing involve alcohol, the law makes absolutely no reference to alcohol.

Hazing is a blood sport, a ritual of power and control wielded with violence. The street gangs, cults and the underworld may never be rid of it, but schools and universities should be saved from it. The youth should be protected from the psychological and physical violence. It is inane and insane to expect that promulgation by law can regulate, supervise, and temper the violence. Hazing in all its forms should be punished with expulsion. Deaths should be dealt with for the heinous crime that it is, by a law with teeth, unencumbered by legal loopholes and politics.

Justice Secretary de Lima expressed puzzlement when Judge Perla Cabrera-Faller dismissed the charge for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law in the hazing death of San Beda law student Marc Andrei Marcos for “lack of probable cause and ample evidence.” Of course, nothing followed her puzzlement. Incredulously, the judge exculpated: “No one is to be blamed for the death of Andrei Marcos… The court feels that it could suffer the flak of society, but it cannot in conscience consign all of the accused to the dust bin of history simply on the basis of the uncorroborated and incredible lone statement of Marcelo.”

The history of hazing is littered with deaths. Despite the deaths and known risks, fraternities continue with with their conspiratorial regimens of torture. Despite having been criminalized by Republic Act 8049 more than a decade ago, the deaths continue. Despite “zero-tolerance” edicts and sound bites, when hazing season comes around, schools and universities turn a blind eye, waiting for the next death—when it becomes the occasion for the usual public outcry, condemnation and condolence.

Every hazing death clamors for justice. Hazing deaths qualify as manslaughter. At the least, involuntary manslaughter. But in the Andrei Marcos case, the judge found lack of probable cause and ample evidence! No one to be blamed!

Non-Violent Alternatives

Hazing can be replaced by non-violent alternatives that measure the mettle, worth, and resolve of the pledges. For the able-bodied pledges, have them walk to Baguio, planting trees along the way. Spend their weekends and a whole stretch of summer in volunteer work. Take to the boondocks, like the teachers who walk their arduous miles and wade through rivers daily to reach small communities of children hungry to learn how to read and write. Provide community service to the countless riles communities. Clean the garbage and refuse that clog up the tributaries of the Pasig river. There are limitless opportunities waiting to be invented for a fraternal Peace Corps of pledges. And instead of the twisted glamor of initiation violence, let the pledges prove their worth and mettle with a new kind of macho-ness, through deeds that boast of sacrifice, social relevance, and a dose of nobility.

Hazing in the Philippines

When death occurs, at the very least, it is manslaughter.
Dr. Godofredo U. Stuart, Jr.

September 18, 2017 . . . and yet, another death. Hazing claimed the life of UST a law student, Horatio Tomas Castillo III, as he sought the promises and possibilities of a future in the brotherhood of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

It is a human condition — the need to belong to a family, group, tribe, club, organization, or community. Some seek the allure and exclusivity of some brotherhoods or sisterhoods — fraternities and sororities, street gangs, military units, secret societies — for that special sense of belonging, kinship, and bonding, and for the promise that membership in a special community of men or women will provide a lifelong cachet, to reap imagined privileges, reassurances, and advantages later on in life. In return, one accepts the ethos of a brotherhood, subservience to a set of ideals, and commitment to a code of silence.

For that fraternity, men and women are willing to suffer through the hazing rituals of physical and psychological abuse, sometimes a combination of extreme and heavy doses of both — being smeared with feces or urinated on, drinking concoctions of bodily discharges, suffering torrents of degrading insults, demeaning sexual acts and nudity, or various acts and varying degrees of physical violence. They are meant to humble the pledges, and from that humbling, they imagine, springs bonding, love, and trust.

The consequences of psychological abuse are often hidden. But sometimes, after the hazing, beneath the seeming normalcy, there is a lifetime of psychological scars or wounds that never heal.

Elements of Hazing
Peer pressure
History of abuse
Wall of silence

Read on…

death by hazing

it’s a tragic first for de la salle university/college of st. benilde, the death by hazing of HRM sophomore guillo cesar servando, 18, and it can be the last if the university would only be true to the student handbook that prohibits membership in fraternities, sororities, and “any unrecognized organization that subscribes or participates in any violent act”. The consequence for students found to have violated this contract is dismissal or expulsion. Also punishable are those found to have encouraged fellow students to join, and those who are proven to have been present in any initiation rites.

read HAZING: The deaths are not accidents by G.U.Stuart, MD, la salle hs ’61.

Demystifying the “brod” mystique #cj trial

By Elmer Ordonez

Sociologist Randy David was impressed when presiding officer Senate Juan President Ponce Enrile addressed prosecutor Rep. Raul Daza as “brod” and quickly turned to defense counsel Serafin Cuevas to address him too as “brod.” Enrile and Daza are both fraternity members (Sigma Rhoans), but Cuevas, as far as the 1952 Philippinensian shows, did not list any fraternity affiliation. If he is not a “brod” then Enrile may well have used the term as an honorific, designed perhaps to avoid any apprehension that he might be partial to the prosecution. “Brod” has been used loosely like “pare” but not normally by frat members.

UP law graduates abound in the impeachment trial, many of them fraternity members. Other than the Sigma Rhoans are members of Upsilon Sigma Phi (Senators Joker Arroyo and Francisco Pangilinan), and Alpha Phi Beta (Senators Chiz Escudero, Aquilino “Koko” Pimental, and Alan Cayetano), to name a few. I do not know the fraternity affiliations of those in the prosecution and defense panels. I am sure there are several.

As a frat man I may say something about the “brod mystique” and its provenance. At core of this mystique is pride and sense of belonging. In my time before one was mustered in the Upsilon Sigma Phi, he was required to know about its traditions like its founders (young Freemasons), its heroes and martyrs like Wenceslao Vinzons and Jose Abad Santos, and distinguished alumni in public service, its history particularly leading positions held in the student council and Philippine Collegian. The frat recruited members with leadership, writing, debating and oratorical skills, and candidates for honors. For instance, there were two summa cum laudes, Florentino Feliciano and Shen Lin, among Upsilonians from Class ’52. Some masters impressed us neophytes to say that the Upsilon was the only fraternity in UP, the rest were sororities. Gender sensitivity was unknown then but we treated the chauvinist line as a joke.

Before I joined I was told that the frat’s initiation was the toughest; no paddles then, only ingenious methods of mental and physical hazing.

When my turn came to be a “master” I never hazed any neophyte who had to introduce himself. And when I was asked to become its adviser in the early 60s, I set one condition that physical hazing be abolished. The officers balked apparently to maintain the “mystique” of being the toughest frat to get into. Today I understand physical hazing has been abolished on campus—after decades of mindless violence on hapless neophytes.

Fraternity connections have indeed played a role in politics, governance and business.

Outstanding “brods” are found in almost every area of endeavor including science, the arts, literature, media, education, music, sports, entertainment, fashion, and even the mass movement. Fraternities open to students from all colleges are most likely to make a wider range of achievement other than law– like the Upsilon Sigma Phi founded in 1918 by members of the Order of DeMolay. Its rites have Freemasonic touches. Many Upsilonians later become Freemasons or join the ruling establishment. A good number came from old dynastic or elite families–Roxas, Laurel, Yulo, Araneta etc. Hence its reputation of being a “sosyal” frat.

Fraternity brods in public service do not always see eye to eye – like SC justice Presbiterio Velasco and SC justice Antonio Carpio, both Sigma Rhoans. But not as spectacular or lethal as the struggle between Senator Ninoy Aquino and President Ferdinand Marcos, both Upsilonians.

The fraternity was divided then – from the time of the Jabidah massacre in the late sixties to Aquino’s assassination in 1983 and its aftermath. Many Upsilonians refuse to believe that it was Marcos who ordered the assassination. They hint at the “usual suspects”—a few who were interested in succeeding Marcos, said to have a terminal illness.

I remember Aquino and Marcos in a frat reunion in the late 60s at Wack Wack country club where the two protagonists were brought together to shake hands and embrace each other, muttering “brod.” To say “brod” to another is supposed to establish the fraternal ties among senior and junior fellows forged during final initiation rites. But Senator Aquino (from the same batch as mine, ’50) was unstoppable in his attacks on the President (of a pre-war batch) until his last expose of Oplan Saggitarius for the declaration of martial law in September 1972, said to be crafted by two brilliant legal minds, Sigma Rhoan Enrile and Upsilonian Marcos. The rest is history, but what a history! And many like myself did not see anything commendable in putting the whole country under a dictatorship. Here’s one instance where the “brod mystique” goes out of the window. Like what I said, the brods were divided into pro-Marcos (some enjoying the perks or largess under the “New Society”) and pro-Aquino (many joining the people’s resistance against the Marcos dictatorship).