It was sometime in July, 27 years ago, that I saw my parents break down in anguish because of me.
That moment still haunts me up to this day.
I was home in Bataan for the weekend. Normally, I would just be lounging around the house — in a worn shirt and tattered shorts, and with my hair in an untidy bun. That particular Saturday, however, I was holed up in my bedroom. In baggy jeans. With my long hair left loose. Apparently, that was what gave my parents the warning sign that something was out of the ordinary. But what really convinced them was when they noticed the perceptible limp in my walk and the apparent pain in my every move, so they made me take off my clothes.
What they saw was something that they never thought they would see in any of their children, especially in their sensible firstborn.
My face bore the marks of fading bruises, my upper arms showed signs of livid and bad hits, and my thighs were fully covered with purply, ugly patches. When my mother saw this, she nearly collapsed. Good thing that before she crumpled like a piece of paper, my father was able to catch her. She had, by the way, a heart condition.
After that, they wanted to know what happened to me.
Amid crying and sobbing, they asked, they pleaded, they threatened. So, after a while, I told them.
I told them that being away on my own, with no family and friends around, was sad and frightening. I told them that there were a lot of organizations and sororities in UP that wanted to recruit me. I told them that, barely a month into my first year in college, I decided to join a confraternity. I told them that those bruises were from hazing.
Yes, I am a member of a confraternity – a brotherhood/sisterhood that promotes integrity, nationalism, and academic excellence. A confraternity that had in its roster of members most of those who became student council chairpersons of our campus. A confraternity that I believed was the best choice for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not have any regrets in deciding to be a confrat member. I am partly who I am today because of my confraternity and the values and principles it espoused. I just regret that I have caused my parents unnecessary sorrow as a result of that decision. Because now that I am, myself, a parent, I can finally understand what I had made them go through. Because, believe me, if I were in their position, I would have moved heaven and earth to make the people responsible for my child’s pain pay royally.
It wouldn’t matter that my child voluntarily signed up for it and was fully aware of what was going to happen. It wouldn’t matter that she signed a waiver prior to the Final Rites. It wouldn’t matter that she was taken care of by her brods and sisses after those same brods and sisses almost beat her to a pulp.
What would matter was that they had the guts and audacity to hurt my child, and to cause us, her parents, distress and grief in the process. Nobody deserves that.
And now that I can see things more objectively, less tainted by the fact that I am a sorority gal, and more influenced by maturity and the many lessons of parenthood, I can finally and fearlessly declare that I abhor hazing or any act of inflicting pain among its neophytes.
I support the Anti-Hazing Law.
I am for the imposition of harsh penalties for those who would break that law.
And I also want the Supreme Council of the erring frat/soro to be held accountable for the actions of its resident members.
Finally, I understand that when someone dies of hazing, it is usually accidental. After all, no organization wants to have dead members. But, for the bereaved family of the victims, that excuse would never be acceptable. Nothing would be. So, I hope that for the benefit of everyone concerned, all frats and soros would finally put a stop to the age-old tradition of hazing. Because, surely, there are other ways to test and be assured of the neophytes’ endurance and loyalty to and love for the brotherhood/ sisterhood.
Other ways aside from hazing.