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Words by: Aiken Yao

Hazing is an issue that has always taken a backseat to the other problems in the Philippines. In light of the untimely death due to hazing of Mr. Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III, this problem has once again been brought into the media limelight.

First of all, what is hazing?

Customary in many fraternities and sororities, hazing is a rite of passage that challenges a neophyte’s persistence to become a member for life. Hazing legitimizes the membership of a neophyte into a brotherhood. By breaking them down to their core through various means of suffering and pain, they are most able to indoctrinate their members and align their members’ ideals to the organization’s.

The case of Atio Castillo challenges us to ask: Who is Atio Castillo and what did hazing do to him?

Atio Castilio was a bright student with a promising future as a lawyer ahead of him. He was revered by many as a loving friend and an enjoyable person to be around. According to his friends, he worked hard and studied diligently. It would be rational for one to think that his joining a fraternity would enhance his chances at securing a good future. It would not occur to anyone that such intentions would garner the opposite result for his future — it’s end. Many of these fraternities promise a lifelong brotherhood. But a brother should not be tainted by the bloody hands of his own brother. Hazing did to Atio what it did to thousands of other members in the past; it broke him down mentally and physically until he simply couldn’t take it anymore.

The perils of hazing and its violence have long been known to many. There have been laws that prohibit such rites and, moreover, public opinion is swayed heavily against it. It leads us to ask a question: why do students still join fraternities to begin with? The common answer is that with a career as challenging as law, the temptation to join a fraternity of brothers is hard to resist. The ability to instantly connect to a structured network is tantamount to making your career a great deal more progressive and successful. But what is the nature of these organizations anyway and what effect do they have in the university as a whole?

With such limited resources and experience, I asked the help of our UA&P President Dr. Padojinog who was kind enough to help guide me with these questions. When I asked him what he thought about fraternities, he answered:

“Firstly we have seen what would happen when fraternities and sororities are allowed on campus. Secondly, sororities and fraternities the way they are structured right now are not consistent with the holistic development of the school. Fraternities and sororities are territorial and have territories. Many have their own houses where these groups do their rites and different forms of initiation. Organizations in UA&P were meant for students to meet others openly and to work together under the school rules and etiquette.”

Dr. Padojinog explained his past experiences with such organizations:

“Our experience with different fraternities and sororities have not been good. You and I have seen what it could do to a person and the people surrounding them. We are also referring to the image of the school if we do allow fraternities and sororities in UA&P. The association itself promotes their own self-interest. These views are not compatible with the second thing I said which is our mission. I do not know why hazing becomes such an important rite.

Here, Dr. Padojinog emphasized an important point,

“There is a unity between peoples, a group of friends, and maybe soldiers. They form a brotherhood through their shared struggles and joys. Hazing is a way to shorten that process. We want to promote organizations that work towards helping the community instead. An example is The Bosun it is an organization that shares knowledge and yet it shares that knowledge with the university.”

In ending, it pays dividend to reimagine our school directive which is and will always be that of UNITAS. While we are constantly looking toward the future, we should never lose sight of who we are. Our directive is, and will always be, that of unity.