A false sense of machismo

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By Benjie R. Pangan

At Close Range

Sunday, July 13, 2014


FRATERNITIES are once again in a bad light. We cannot afford to remain silent and unconcerned witnesses to killings and maiming of young men who hoped to be part of these associations for the privilege of being called "brods." It is a status symbol for some, or so they think. But the admission requirements are cruel and barbaric calling for corporal punishment, harsh humiliation and violent dressing down.

Just what is the lure these fraternities exude to attract young men to go the punishing route for admission to this organizations where masters are kings and their wishes infallible?

In my time at Far Eastern University in Manila, fraternities where extant but not as vicious as today's groups. We had then Pampango-led fraternity that abhorred the Ilocano counterpart but the most these warring factions get involved in are rumbles. Initiations where also held but they involved only sending a neophyte on an errand to a master's girlfriend or a beauty prospect nothing more. But alas and alack, a good-looking, sweet-talking neophyte, got the better of the errand when he was one who successfully wooed the campus beauty instead of the master.

Despite the presence of the Anti-Hazing Law, frat masters are not cowed by it. Instead, they violate it with impunity, resulting in death and severe injuries to the neophytes.

The paddle-beating is not for the weak of hearts and frail of health. The masters, mostly saddists, enjoy the beating and the more inductees suffer, the better the feeling they got out of the devilish acts they were executing.

Many sectors have weighed in on the recent death and serious injuries inflicted on student neophytes of the College of St. Benilde. The revered Cardinal Tagle dissuaded the youth from joining fraternities. He remarked: "These so-called fraternities have nothing to teach you but pride and how to harm others." He added: "Fraternity? What kind of brotherhood is that? Will you call, consider as brother one who treats you like a punching bag? How dare you call brother him who beats you up?" Strong words, these.

Verily, only masochists would enter an organization lorded by sadists. Aside from the human beatings, invectives hurled on the initiates are so unsavory to hear and bear. Fraternities anyone?

Prospects are misguided on the belief that once you are in, support from the brothers will be available. This is grossly misleading. It is delusional.

One can be assertive and positive by working or studying better, not necessarily by joining any kind of fraternity. Machismo can be demonstrated by good words and deeds, not by harming others.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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