Issue of October 1, 2017
     
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Quitter

Joining a fraternity is more of a peer pressure than a personal decision. It is an “in” thing. It gives an emotional high of being with others whom you can casually call brods. There is a proud feeling that you belong to an organization that can give you an aura of invincibility every time you are in trouble. This, at least, is what I felt when I was being recruited to join a fraternity. I was barely out of my teens and being that I was as adventurous as all others of my age, I enlisted.

I was told that what I was getting into was a family thing, a union of sorts where guys who share the same visions get to bond together to attain a common goal. It was impressed upon me that to belong with that particular fraternity will mean sufficient security for my future, as the senior members are deeply entrenched as influential members of our society. There will be more than enough persons who will guide me and make me successful – should I decide to join. However, it was explained that to be accepted and to become a member, I had to undergo an initiation rite.

I have heard from faint rumors in the past how a fraternity initiation is conducted. I have heard that to make it more meaningful and more memorable, there is a “little” violence into it. That recruits are challenged to do things that their senior members command them to do, and, upon completion, are made to run in the middle of two columns lined up with “brods” who would administer the “paddle.” Then, all is finished. It is not that hard, it is not that cruel. For an organization that is as lofty as the one recruiting me, I had the self-assurance that I could pass its initiation in a breeze.

Surely, this is not such a difficult task to go through. A little pain would go a long way in being recognized as a brother. Besides, the Latin sounding name of the fraternity, even though it hardly makes any sense, carries with it a measure of pride and dignity. I started dreaming. Ah, to be counted among the few, to be known in the campus as a member of a fraternity, to be feared and to be respected. These expectations all went to my head.

Then the day came. There were five of us. We were brought to the basement of a house somewhere in Aurora Hill. Eighteen members were already waiting. The atmosphere was boisterous and noisy. All initiators were eager to take the first blow. I mistook their sneers for smiles. Several bottles of liquor were prominently displayed in a small table by the camp fire. They butchered a dog for pulutan. Just when I thought the fun would begin, we were blindfolded. We were given instructions not to move, not to say a word and not to question anything that will be done to us. My mouth was stuff with a loaf bread with Colgate used as a palaman.

I heard a voice say that during the rite, we will be called slaves. Those who will administer the initiation will be called masters. Without so much of a warning, I was slapped twice on both cheeks. It was so jarring that I immediately felt the pain. My master said that it was the introduction. My God, I sighed, if that is the introduction, I just cannot imagine what will follow next.

My apprehension was proven right when after a lingering silence, I felt several belt buckles rapping my thighs and arms; there were kicks and punches coming from all directions. I was being mauled to death. I did not realize that I wet my pants. In excruciating pain, I fell to my knees praying and begging to my masters to please stop. All the more that they inflicted harm on me, shouting with sadistic encouragement, “quit ka na, quit ka na, quit ka na.”

At that juncture, I think that it was the most prudent thing to do. I quit. I took off my blindfold, carried my things and without any second thoughts, walked out of the venue. I did not envy that my other four other companions remained to bear the pain and finish their ordeal.

The next day, all eyes were on me because I quit joining the fraternity. I was being avoided as if I had a plague. I knew at the back of my mind that my recruiters were branding me as a “quitter” and a “squealer,” not a very good description for a man who still has to prove anything in this world. For a time, I suffered the indignity of being an outcast trying to reconsider my options of being recruited again. But, knowing how dangerous it can be, I stayed put and shunned fraternities.

Looking back, I made the right decision. Because of what is happening to some fraternities these days where its recruits are hazed until they are maimed, or, in some instances, are murdered, I would say joining a fraternity is suicide, a death wish. Instead of welcoming a person into a brotherhood, the recruits are sent to a death chamber.

The violence is overwhelming. Fraternity initiations bring out the barbarian in its members. Their desire is to inflict pain and suffering, never mind the consequences. No true brother can ever imagine doing this. To be initiated is physically, emotionally, and psychologically draining. It is life-threatening. Believe me, I tried it, I was there. Yes, I quit and to this day, those who recruited me call me a quitter. But, better a quitter who is alive than a fratman who is dead.

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