CITIZEN Y - Yoly Villanueva-Ong -

The first hazing victim I knew of was a neighbor, Ferdinand Tabtab, a UP Engineering student who died after initiation rites by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity. I don’t recall that anyone ever answered for the tragedy.

When 13 of our highnschool graduates chose UP to the nuns’ horror, we were “briefed” by our anxious Class Advisor on its perils. Apart from the Communists, fraternities and sororities should also be avoided as sources of immoral company and occasion to sin. Outsiders were dubbed “barbarians,” a pejorative label that eventually became ludicrous if not ironic.

A few became sympathetic to the militants’ cause. But none were inveigled to join sororities even if the initiation was harmless like writing term papers or pulling embarrassing stunts in public.

Why do Greek-letter societies exist? Presumably, neophytes are enticed by the promise of a social network that would secure his future — not exactly a noble motive. And they would be part of an exclusive and elitist group united by the bond of brother/sisterhood.

UP Philosophy professor, Agerico de Villa, called it “the chosen people syndrome.” Ancient outlawed secret societies practiced initiation rites to protect their beliefs from the philistines. Their members had to be trusted as a matter of life and death. But today, the freedom of association is a constitutional right. So aren’t these secret rituals obsolete and unnecessary?

StopHazing.org defines hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” The initiation, where applicants are paddled and beaten with a ferocity matching the level of intoxication and aggression of the initiators, is supposed to forge a sacrosanct affiliation when get accepted… if they survive.

Once a “brod” any real or imagined threat from a rival frat, was rumble-time, a free-for-all-melee that endangered lives. An innocent, Niño Calinao, was mistaken for Scintilla Juris and gunned down in 1999. Other rumble fatalities were Rolando Perez of Upsilon Sigma Phi (1969); Rolando Abad of APO (1977); Dennis Venturina of Sigma Rho (1994); and Den Daniel Reyes of Alpha Phi Beta (2000).

Last week, after 21 years, the Supreme Court handed down the final decision on the Lenny Villa case. The Ateneo Law School student died of cardiac arrest after being savagely mauled at an Aquila Legis’ initiation in 1991. Found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide” were Fidelito Dizon, Antonio Mariano Almeda, Junel Anthony Ama, Renato Bantug Jr. and Vincent Tecson.

Their sentence: “an indeterminate prison term” of minimum four-months and one-day to maximum four years and two months. The heirs were awarded civil indemnity of P50K and P1M moral damages plus legal interest of 12 percent on all damages, jointly and severally. It was a slap on the wrist. Are there “brods” in the SC?

The first known hazing victim was Gonzalo Mariano Albert of Upsilon (1954). His appendix reportedly raptured from the paddling. Then Ferdinand Tabtab of APO (1967); Arbel Liwag of UP Beta Sigma (1984); Lenny Villa (1991), Joselito Hernandez of UP Scintilla Juris (1992), Mark Roland Martin of UP Epsilon Chi (1995).

On June 1995 former President Fidel Ramos signed RA 8049, the Anti-Hazing Law. Still, Alexander Miguel Icasiano of UP Alpha Phi Beta was hazed to death in 1998.

Brutality had become ingrained in what journalist Hank Nuwer called Wrongs of Passage, a book about hazing in US college fraternities and organizations. The list of casualties grew longer by 2000.

In January 2006, Marlon Villanueva of UPLB, succumbed from injuries sustained at a suspected APO initiation in Pansol, Laguna. Charged were Jericho Paril, 25 and Brandon Gonzales, 22, both APO members.

In May 2006, Jan Dollette, 5th-year Engineering student from Capiz State University died during the final initiation of APO. Noted were severe contusions all over the body “inflicted by many.” Christina Dyna Baldisimo, a high school teacher; Phel Raff Patricio, CSU student; Deneo Machado, manager of RCL Marketing; Dinkee Mandar, Dexter Alvarez, Ramir Bula and Archie Durana were charged. 

In August 2007, Cris Anthony Mendez, 21, from UP National College of Public Administration and Governance was declared DOA at Veterans Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Francisco Cruz, who brought the Sigma Rho initiate, faces a civil case from the Mendez family. The Professional Regulation Commission trial is set for November. Fifteen fratmen were investigated. The case is pending in QCRC.

Chester Paulo Abracia, a Marine Technology sophomore at the Enverga University, Lucena City was paddled to death on Aug 2008 during a Tau Gamma Phi initiation. A member who surrendered and requested anonymity has received death threats if he names the perpetrators.

Elvis Sinaluan, 21, perished from bruises and contusions received during the initiation of the Scout Royal Brotherhood (high school version of APO) in Oct. 2009. Eight are in custody: Antonio Rosanes, Ricky Arga, Rommel Pega, Timothy Cruzada, Paul John Caldit, Jecel Alvares, Aaron Amparo, and Aloja Vidallon.

John Daniel Samparada, 18, a student of Lyceum, Cavite, suffered severe leg beatings and expired at the Estrella Hospital in Oct. 2009. Three Tau Gamma Phi comrades brought him after the hazing. Charged were a certain Bartolome, 21, and Joel Bandalan 18, a sophomore and freshman-studying Hotel and Restaurant Management at Lyceum.

Daniel Lorenz Jacinto, 19, from Mapua Institute of Technology, Trece Martires, died in April 2010 from severe bruises on his thighs and body. Arrested were Emil John Villanueva, 19, Ronnie Mozo, 19, Glenn Angelo Mansilla, 20, John Arman Canicosa, 19, Paulo Alvarez, 22, and Marco Polo Sarlo, 21.

EJ Karl Intia 19, from the University of Makati suffered 4 hours of hazing in the house of Rico Mansalapus in Aug. 2010. Intia’s body was later found in a 30-meter deep ravine in Laguna. Sixteen APO fratmen were charged. UMAK students Reynald Marin, 19, Michael Pagulayan, 19, Roesel Wenceslao, 18 and alumnus Rico Mansalapus, 31 were ordered released for lack of probable cause by Makati Judge Honorio Guanlao even with the admission that they took part in the hazing.

The latest casualty is Marvin Reglos, 25, a San Beda freshman law student and initiate of Lambda Rho Beta. He died February 18, reportedly from hazing rites in Antipolo. Fourth-year San Sebastian law students Erick Castillo and Bodjie Yap face murder charges with Arjay Gregana, Jufali Abdula and 11 others.

Of 16 documented “frat-ricides,” almost all the victims and suspects were in their 20s or teens. Eight were from UP; 4 with Law fraternities and 5 were APO initiates. UP seems to be a fertile breeding ground for sadism; One-fourth of the lot want to be lawyers; APO, the most prolific fraternity is VP Binay’s campaign network.

So who are the barbarians?

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