Aldrich Allaga

“For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” - William Shakespeare

While the pledge of brotherhood may seem to run thicker than blood, so does the irrevocable scar of betrayal as one inflicts a wound on his brother— this, in my opinion, best expresses the counterintuitiveness of hazing.

Cartoon by Joseph Idusora

As defined by Lehigh University, hazing is an action or situation, whether on or off-campus, intended to create mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. From the time of Plato, hazing has been a sort of “torment,” growing in popularity until post-World War I 1912, wherein educational institutions began to prohibit the act.

The Philippines has its bitter history of hazing too. Republic Act No. 8049, otherwise known as the “Anti-Hazing Law of 1995,” was enacted upon the death of former Atenean and Aquilia Legis initiate Leonardo "Lenny" Villa four years prior.

The aforementioned law perfectly describes hazing as we know it today: “an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity,” it denotes, emphasizing the involvement of “embarrassing or humiliating situations” subjecting the initiate to physical or psychological harm.

Yet, with the recent resurgence of hazing cases, greatly amplified by the gruesome death of former Adamsonian John Matthew Salilig, this law’s enforcement— and the lack thereof— puts many things into question.

For one, its blatant ineffectiveness causes us to wonder how many unearthed hazing cases have happened behind our backs. In conjunction with Salilig’s case, a previous hazing claim on Ronnel Baguio of the University of Cebu has reopened; both cases point directly at Tau Gamma Phi being the culprit.

While the fraternity may deny its involvement in their deaths, the mere fact that someone’s blood was found on Triskelions’ hands is enough to raise anyone’s suspicion as to whether this law truly serves its purpose.

Even if the republic act does ban physical violence, it still permits initiation rites under the supervision of two school representatives and a week-early notice from the organization. This, I believe, is where its essence begins to fade.

While we strive to avoid violence, promoting a culture of tolerance and indifference toward social exclusivity is just as counter-intuitive.

Frontiers for Young Minds states that “social exclusion” refers to the physical or emotional pain from being socially isolated. Its pain, the article continues, is due to the fact that we humans are social creatures who crave social relationships lest we experience “pain.”

The United States National Library of Medicine links social exclusion to peer rejection which, as described by, is the threat to end a relationship or friendship, causing low self-esteem, academic difficulties, antisocial behavior, and other forms of psychological harm; this could not be better exhibited than in fraternities.

The whole concept of initiation rites, whether violent or not, is to prove one’s worth and loyalty to an organization. As social beings, the fear of social exclusion and peer rejection may push initiates to do anything and everything— even at the expense of their lives —simply to be “one with the brotherhood.”

Furthermore, classifies peer rejection as a negative form of peer pressure. According to Mentally Health Schools, such can provoke desperate initiates into substance abuse, self-deprecation, and in serious cases, suicide.

Hence, hazing not only inflicts suffering and death but also paves the way to a "culture of violence", as stated by Luis V. Teodoro of Business World. I find it ironic that fraternities pledge brotherly allyship as their main selling point, yet completely exclude those who fear the paddle— not so brotherly after all.

As we work towards a hazing-free country, let us also strive to establish an environment wherein no one has to feel excluded— one that does not incentivize violence as a means to “belong.”

Nathan Schaffernorth of Exceptional Sports mentions that simply listening to one’s problems and expression of vulnerability can make one feel "emotionally included." In doing so, we are able to forge true brotherhood without the use of a whip or paddle. In addition, our laws must focus on inclusivity, rather than merely eradicating the physical trauma that hazing entails; our constitution should be ready to protect our mental health.

To counter the self-destructiveness of violence through hazing, we must do our part as social beings to make the lives around us feel both equally valid and valued.