RUGBY is originally used for laminating wood products, decorative laminate, edge-banding, metals, FRP, tile board and a wide range of other related products. It can also be used as strong glue. However, in the Philippines, it is used as an inhalant and is known to be the third primary drug problem in the country.
Inhalants are types of drugs that are taken in through the nose which is considered the fastest way to obtain the euphoric state or being high. This is different with illegal drug use where the substance is heated then sniffed afterwards.
The type of activity of inhaling Rugby is called huffing. People, mostly children and teen males, who are huffing Rugby are usually under the marginalized sector and are called “Rugby boys”.
But today, Rugby isn’t the “in” thing anymore. Although Rugby is still in the picture, it isn’t what Rugby boys are looking for. From Rugby, Vulcaseal is what these boys are hooked up to.
According to Dr. Mayen Caminade, once Rugby or Vulcaseal is inhaled, it goes directly to the blood then flows through the brain which causes damage to the nervous system.
Justin Gilyardo and Jihad Gallanto, both 16, used to be Rugby boys who shifted to Vulcaseal. Jihad started using Rugby at 9 while Justin started at 10.
They met at San Pedro. They sniffed together and instantly became friends.
Unlike other Rugby boys who steal money, they sell newspapers in order for them to earn and get their fix.
“Nagasugo mi sa mga trisikad drivers. Di man mi makapalit kay minor man mi unya kailangan pa ug ID bago mimakapalit (We request trisikad drivers to buy for us because we can't. We're minors and stores require proper identification cards for them to sell Rugby),” Gallanto said.
Since Rugby costs 53 pesos, they give the driver 100 pesos and let him keep the change as a way of paying him for doing them a favor.
In a day, they get to buy one bottle and consume it in one sitting. With the use of a spoon, they first take a small amount then transfer it to a clean can that they hold close to their nose.
They sniff on until the sealant dries up.
“Ang imong paminaw murag tinuod, murag power-power. Naa na dayon epekto sa una pa lang na simhot. Naa kay makit-an, murag Avengers. Depende sa trip, trip-trip lang na.Lahi-lahi man na (Your consciousness changes, it's like you get power. You can feel the effect at the first sniff, you see things, like the Avengers. But it depends on your hallucinations. We all get different hallucionations),” Gallanto explained, saying he feels strong when high.
One misconception of Rugby use is that children use it because they have no food to eat and that the solvent fumes stave their hunger. This is a false.
“Dili na pwede, mabuang ka ana. Kung di ka mukaon unya mugamit ka, mawad-an ka-g gana mukaon ana (That can't be done. You will lose your mind. If you haven't eaten and you use solvent, you will lose your appetite),” Gilyardo said.
They prefer sniffing at night because they get to see things in the dark and there are less people around.
“Naga-imagine lang mi, naga-trip trip lang. Naga-lingkod lang mi unya hilom lang. Murag galupad lang (We imagine things. We just sit down and be quiet. It's like we're flying),” Gallanto stated.
Their normal hangout is near the barbecue stalls along Magallanes where they hide behind jeepneys. They don't go in groups, he said, as this will gather too much attention.
There were also instances wherein they’d get into a fight because another person would steal somebody else’s Rugby.
When they heard about Vulcaseal, they quickly shifted.
It smells better, they said, and dries up longer.
You could identify a person who has been sniffing solvent as their eyes are red and you can actually smell the solvent.
Justin and Jihad shared that they have been caught countless times already. Whenever the police try to catch them, they run fast because they feel like Flash, the superhero.
When caught and brought to the drop-in beside San Pedro Police Station, they'd escape.
They say that the reason no one wants to stay at the drop-in is because the water there is dirty. The police watching them, too, is cruel, they said. They get beaten up sometimes.
“Pukawon ka unya sipaon ka. Manlagot mi pero wa mi mahimo kay gobyerno man ni. Sa gawas na lang mi mandumot sa kalagot sa ilaha (They'd wake us up and kick us. But we can't do anything since they are government. We just bear a grudge),”Gillardo said.
They do nothing there but sleep and sometimes clean the restroom while waiting for their parents to come get them.
One day, they decided to stop using it after claiming to have had enough of their parents' nagging. They admitted to feeling like a burden to their families.
They agreed to stay clean for five days, they said. On the third day, they were tempted to buy, but did not give in. During the five days that they were clean, they felt normal and their parents were no longer nagging them. They also started helping their parents sell kwek-kwek along San Pedro.
They stopped at the age of 13, although their friends still continue to tempt them.
“Lami diay undangan ang bisyo. Di na mi mubalik kay sakit na sa ulo ug lain sa paminaw na sige yawyaw ang ginikanan sa amoa (It feels good to stop a vice. We won't go back. It has become a headache listening to our parents nag),” Gilyardo said.
Not only that, it also destroys one's future. Jihad only reached grade six while Justin hasn’t even started nursery. They regret letting addiction take away their chance of education and a good future.
To those Rugby and Vulcaseal boys, here’s a message from Jihad Gallanto: “Ayaw na mo gamit ana kay mauga imong utok, dapat hunahunaon ang inyong ginikanan. Walay maayo ikadulot. Sayang lang ang kwarta, may pa gipalit ug bugas o ihatag sa ginikanan (Dont' get into that, it will dry up your brain. You have to think about your parents. Solvent use does nothing good, you will just be wasting your money when you could have bought rice instead or gave money to your parents).” (Francesca Elaina M. Tabaco)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on April 16, 2017.
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