Come what may

I looked at the stars yet I saw darkness. I was thinking that whichever corner my eyes drew into, there will always be that longing for sparks. Just a little forward? backward? side ward? How much farther can I go for distant lights? How many years does it take to say that “life has finally happened to me!”

 

Wishing for the right time, patience has its way to offer for the best. In midst of difficulties, one must soar high to collect stars, not by gazing but to reach for them. To jump high, no, but to jump higher and believe that we are the stars of our own selves.

 

Failures make us stronger and independent. I am one of the billion people in the world who has gone countless depression and frustrations in life. And I say sorry for myself, for the things I have done and for the things I have failed to accomplish. I don’t want to rant each part of it but in general, to aim for the best shot is not that easy. Bumpy roads and a never ending ups and downs do come in my way but I know God has come to save the day. I admit, I once told myself to just give up because it is the easier than to keep up the struggles going. But the Lord is keeping on pursuing me to stay still and focus on forward. I have tried to step down that road of sorrows just to consider my tiredness. But, soon I realized, I can never escape that road. The longer I remain sitting down on that corner, is the longer it would make me to see the best days of my life. I know right now, it may seem like I have not yet done my best-est yet, but I also know for sure that every single day is closer to improvement as long as I keep going and go for the extra mile. My dreams are still inside of me. Keeping the fire burning and a never ending adventure awaits. Come what may.

 

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Frat-Sor Violence

Enduring almost seven weeks of rigorous hazing–paddling, face-slapping, body-punching and worse–and he/she became a respected brother/sister for it.

Fraternities, sororities and other organizations has become a staple in the Philippines education system. Unfortunately, some practices present today in fraternities defeat the purpose of brotherhood and camaraderie. Frat-Sor related violence has become rampant and is subjected to hazing and inhumane acts.

Man as a social being, is definitely in need to belong in a family, group, tribe, club, organization or community. For some who seeks the allure and exclusivity, brotherhoods or sisterhoods, fraternities and sororities, street gangs, military units and secret societies are held for that special sense of belonging, kinship, and bonding- as for the promise that membership in this different kind of community of men and women will guarantee lifelong benefits, privileges, reassurances, and advantages in the long run. In return, one accepts the ethos of a brotherhood/sisterhood, following set of ideals, and commitment to a code of silence.

Young people who were interviewed observed that there were benefits to be earned by joining a fraternity/sorority: “For social purposes” (Shera Mortejo, UPV); “To have connections and affiliations”(Zsareena Zabala, UPV); “To boost self-esteem” (Sean Labastida, UPV); “For them to have people to rely on especially in times of troubles” (Arniel Lisondra, MSU-IIT);  “To have another family. To belong. To fit in. To be loved” (Lala Calle, UPV);  “To gain acceptance and feel some kind of belongingness. Some also join for quest and thirst for power” (Syrine Podadera, FEU); “Promised protection & security, social elevation” (Clyde Aguillon, UPLB); “To not feel alone.”(Dan Borongan, UPV); “Peer Pressure”(Aizel Divinagracia, USC); “They can’t find love with their family” (Davy Abella, USC); “Sense of “damayan”(Dua Uriarte, SU); “Personal preference- maybe their parents were fratmen”(Emman Aller, UPV); “They feel safe and settled that they have people who share similar beliefs and values”(Jessa Temelo, UPV) “To gain respect”( Kenneth Baay, SPUS); “Sponsorship and solid connection” (James Luchavez, UPV); “It is one way of being cool”(Gabriel Lerona, UPV); “For greater circle of friends and the benefits after college like easy job application”(May Ann Ybañez, UPV); “Academic support”,(Joeylyn Terania, UPV); “To be able to learn and use the learnings as an instrument to give service to fellowmen, having a family and fun activities” (Kulit 5th)

If there are pluses, there are also minuses. There are gray areas in which one shouldn’t forget. Often, the violence is meted out with measures of restraint. But one too many times it is dispensed with savage and unrestrained brutality, with pledges beaten to a pulp. And sometimes, in the name of fraternity, death occurs. The underlying fact is that the term called “hazing” can possibly account during any Fraternity or Sorority initiation rites. Basically, it has been a practice as a part of the initiation rites to be conducted. It’s a form of conditioning that, in theory, is said to teach pledges the meaning of authority and loyalty (by bullying them into submission), foster camaraderie among new recruits (by collectively subjecting them to pain and humiliation), and make them value the privilege of being accepted into the brotherhood (by making them work hard to get in).

Even though that these seem like noble intentions, the problem with hazing is that it can get too far. Sometimes, these traditions are left in the hands of late teens and early 20’s college students which is to say that they are unsupervised young adults that might be drunk and lack knowledge of how much physical and psychological torture the human body can tolerate. As a matter of fact, 82% of deaths from violent hazing involve alcohol.

Men and women are willing to suffer through the hazing rituals of physical and psychological abuse for that fraternity/sorority. Heavy doses of both can result to extreme degrees of physical violence and degrading insults. The so-called “Neophytes” are meant to humble pledges to their “Lord Masters”.

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.

For physical abuse, the marks are visible, usually caused by the most common form of abuse in the tradition of hazing that is “paddling”- MUCH WORSE THAN IT SOUNDS, MUCH MORE THAN A PADDLE. The consequence is often inflicted with brutality, almost always, causing the part of the body to “ube”- the vernacular for the bloody bruising. In the name of  frat/sor, the ability to endure the brutality is considered a measure of bravery, resolve, and worthiness.

Taking the risk is not that easy to fall into. A lot is being said and written about the recent fraternity hazing incidents that killed a student and severely injured three others from the De La Salle University—College of St. Benilde, and critically wounded another from the University of the Philippines. Fingers are being pointed, legislative bills are being submitted, investigations are being conducted, and lawsuits are being filed.

Numerous incidents happened in the Philippines with Frat/Sor issues. But in that case, one should not put the blame mutually on all existing fraternities and sororities. As the government seeks to form a task force to ban frat/sor, many reasons compromises it because fraternities and sororities have a place in society. 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.

Despite the deaths and known risks, some sororities and fraternities continue 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.