By Irah Zapanta, HS 4A
Seeking the true meaning of brotherhood deems challenging—almost impossible—given today’s evolving culture. Even the most honorable of men ascribe hardships in branding certain individuals from mere acquaintances to friends.
This dilemma roots from the utter decline of what seemed to be a structural paradigm of loyalty and friendship: fraternities.
Still in Tradition
Last June 28, Guillo Servando was forced to take the bait in the initiation rites of the Tau Gamma Phi. The 18-year old student from the De La Salle College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) looked for brothers but found bruises and wounds on different parts of his body instead. Dragging his unconscious body, as seen on CCTV Footages from the Manila Police District, were the members of the fraternity on the 29th floor of One Archer’s Building.
“He [Guillo] wanted to back out, but he was threatened. They [Fraternity members] said, ‘We will make your life a living hell,’” Mr. Aurelio Servando, the father of the victim, said in a recent interview. Guillo suffered great hits on his stomach and thighs with a paddle that was swung more than a hundred times. Under the influence of alcohol, the initiators showed no mercy at all.
Losing a son meant long nights for the bereaved Mr. Servando. As he received the warmest condolences from the whole Lasallian community, he reminisced how he spent his last moment with his youngest son. “Before Guillo stepped down the car, he kissed me.” That Saturday, Mr. Aurelio thought that he was driving his son to a get-together—a sheer cover-up of what was about to transpire.
“And I always tell Guillo to be careful, because if anything happens to him, I am put at the losing end,” said Mr. Aurelio whose pain was amplified with the sight of his son’s lifeless body.
A sophomore student pursuing a course of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Guillo shared his passion in cooking and aspired to become a soldier, but his dreams were put into a pedestal as soon as he joined the fraternity.
A Fraternal Retrospect
For thousands of years, secret organizations, which served as avenues for social interaction, like the Tau Gamma Phi have already been existent. Synergistic and community-driven, people back then sought either fraternities or sororities to satisfy their belongingness need.
The Freemasons, a fraternal group, lurked the streets and reeked popularity and prestige in those times. In the United States, the Phi Beta Kappa, the first Greek fraternity founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, has laid down the foundations of certain traditions that most secret societies practice today.
Time passed, and with an influx of students, more prospective recruits for an organization had to be assessed. Eventually, hazing ensued. Today, this is decried together with abusive alcohol consumption, sexual humiliation and social embarrassment which are all integrated in most initiation rites and pledges.
Hazing then spiraled its way as one of the lead causes of student deaths in universities. Mr. Servando, through the death of his son, hopes to provide a clear-cut boundary between students and any form of peer pressure. “I hope my son’s death will be the last.” He and the whole Lasallian community remain steadfast in their stand against fraternities and hazing.
A Call to Action
Striving to uphold Lasallian principles despite the social turmoil in the country, La Salle Green Hills manifested its unwavering support in praying for the eternal repose of a fellow Lasallian and in denouncing fraternities and all forms of violence altogether. The National Shrine of the Divine Child (NSDC), where the body of Guillo lied in state, was packed with students, teachers and relatives who all joined in prayer. Elucidating on the social aspects of fraternities, Mr. Aurelio gave a talk to both juniors and seniors in the Brother Donato Center (BDC). Moreover, projects in Christian Living and Values Development Program (VDP) classes aimed towards voicing out the Lasallians’ view on true camaraderie. Lastly, in every corner of the campus, tarpaulins depicted an outright refusal of violence. One of which was mounted on the exterior of the bridge along Ortigas Avenue. From the words of Mrs. Maria Christina Nolasco, a 4th Year English Teacher, the canvas said, “True Brotherhood thrives on trust and respect for human lives.”
To culminate and to spread a timely atmosphere of rectitude, everyone participated in a Solidarity Prayer for True Brotherhood last July 23. Unfazed by torrential rains, the whole community pushed through with the activity in the St. Benilde Gym. Each of the Lasallians dedicated a prayer for Guillo, his family, the rest of the victims and all the fraternities.
A Social Awakening
The death of Guillo served as an impetus for the government to break with tradition—one that corrupted the ideal brotherhood and sisterhood that Greek societies once embodied. Taking urgent action is Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian who pointed out that the currently-imposed Anti-Hazing Law or Republic Act 8049 proves ineffective against abuse and maltreatment done in initiation rites. He therefore proposed the Servando Act which pushed for the total banning of fraternity hazing.
Mr. Aurelio expressed his gratitude to everyone, whether student or lawmaker, for keeping his family afloat despite the loss. In his final message to all Lasallians, he said, “Do not get involved in fraternities. If any entices you, please think of your parents, for they love you very much.”
Enlightened with a renewed sense of companionship, everyone is therefore challenged to live up for Guillo and render him and the rest of the victims justice by learning to refuse what leads to rugged paths.
Learn how to say no!
Indeed, it is in true brotherhood that everyone feels the grace of God in its purest form. Guillo has already found refuge in heaven where friendship knows no bounds and love is forever sustained, ingrained and lived.