Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fratman...and Proud

I don't deny it, in fact, I'm proud to say that I'm a fratman. Yes, I am.


I became one when a childhood friend of mine built one chapter in our community. When I entered U.P., someone discovered that I was a junior frat member and enticed me to become a member. I became one of the most active.


At forty years old, I am still proud to say, that I'm a fratman.


That's why it's sad to learn that several young people died during their initiation rites. In my day, no one died. I know of several fraternities at San Beda College of Law and during my time, no one died. 


Initiation rites are more psychological than physical. The physical aspect is really nothing. Yeah, my legs were all colored violet when I finished the rites, but I did not die. You die if you have asthma or a congenital heart disease. These people ought not to join fraternities. 


I am not saying that fraternities are just for the physically fit. All I'm saying is these people who join fraternities, they are not dumb. They know that there is a physical thing that they need to undergo to test their fortitude and their will. Fraternities are closed organisations, with their own rules of passage. 


When someone decides to join fraternities, even before he joins, he knows that there is an initiation rite that he needs to undergo before he earn the title of "brader" or "brother". Don't tell me that a neophyte or a potential acolyte does not know what he'll be going thru for the next week or so? Prior to joining, an alexis knows what goes on in fraternities. He knows that there is a test that he needs to pass.  


That's why its important for a neophyte to reveal everything to his "master" or recruiter before agreeing to become a frat member. Those who do not have the physical or the emotional fortitude must just request for another form of passage. This is allowed especially to those whom fraternities see as "assets" or "potentials". The extent of the physical is lessened, while psychological tests are heightened.


When I joined my fraternity, I was as frail as a bamboo. I was not a 90-pounder when that paddle hit my legs and my butt. I was just above the average weight of my height and age. 


And yes, it was painful because all my life my parents did not hit me as hard as these bastards hit me, but the pain is not the issue--it is the mind that tells me that these things are painful. Control the mind, control the pain. I lived through this and even relished the experience.


Those who survived these rites of passage, they felt proud knowing that they underwent what hundreds of chosen men went thru decades past and felt an affinity with those before them. That affinity is what many others call "brotherhood"---the feeling that you underwent the same thing, and survived. 


PMAers will never be complete without a rite of passage. Those in the Masonic societies, also has a rite of passage. Centuries-old fraternities and secret societies have their blood compacts and even more painful physical tests. 


Yes, as a responsible writer, I am not in the habit of justifying hazing or these initiation rites. I am just saying here that initiation rites are part of the right to become a member of a fraternity. Of course, it's different if you enter an honor society such as Pi Kappa Mu. You don't have to suffer the pain of being hit with a wooden paddle. Yet, brotherhood feels different if you're a Kappa Mu from a Lambda Rho Beta or an Alpha Kappa Muks (Kapalmuks, hehehe). 


Fraternities such as Tau Gamma Phi or Lambda Rho Beta, Alpha Phi Beta, Upsilon Sigma Pi and the like still exist and thrive because they cloak themselves with mystique. I heard a radio commentator say that fraternities exists because of violence, or another radio commentator say, the reason why people join fraternities in San Beda is because these people were enticed by the "big network" of these fraternities. The enticement, claims this broadcaster, is the fact that if you join the frat, you'll pass your subjects because chances are, the professor who teaches law subjects, is himself, a fratman. A fellow brother will protect his own kind, yes?


Crap. Bull.


When I was in law school, my fraternity brother cum professor did not pass me because I was a "brother", oh no. He passed me because I passed the midterms and final exams.


When I was teaching at the University of the Philippines in Manila and at Dela Salle University, many of my fellow brothers enrolled in my classes. I did not pass them because I was their brother, oh no. I passed SOME of them because they passed MY standards. If they asked me to pass them because of brotherhood, I would have spanked them with a paddle myself. 


On record, I flunked some of my brods, because they did not attend my class and did not pass my exams. Period.


You become a frat member because you believe in what your organisation stands for--excellence. How then can you pass a fellow "brother" if he does not excel in his subjects? Better to flunk a brother than violate the very tenet of my fraternity.


And yes, I am aware that there is an anti-hazing law. Despite the existence of such a law, why do you think people like Andre Marcos still join fraternities and still agree to experience the rite of passage? Because, laws cannot really change the very nature of fraternities. Fraternities will always be a fixture of a modern, intellectual society.


For as long as there are hierarchical structures in societies like ours, for as long as there are classes, there will always be secret societies and fraternities. These aggrupations exist as defenders of the very system they thrive on. 


And the more secretive and the more influential a fraternity becomes, the more young minds would join and enter. Those who feel that they are worth their salt or more valuable than an average person would always feel that he must belong to an organisation, a tribe, that is. 


As they say, fratman...and proud.