Why Filipino youth join fraternities

The myth that fraternities could provide “leadership experience” abound. In reality, though, what these youth want is a taste of power because of the perks they see from their mayor or governor…. Many failed to see, or the Filipino schools and families failed to teach, that leadership is a matter of accountability and not benefits.

While the Philippines cannot get over yet the Dormitorio hazing incident, another student is hospitalized for injuries that could be due to hazing. The newest victim is  Jonathan Cabueños, an 18 year old Crimiology student from Laguna Polytechnic State University seeking to be a member of a fraternity.

But why do Filipino youth risk their lives undergoing hazing just to join fraternities?

Reporter.ph enumerates 10 reasons why and these are as follows:

  • Long-term friendship
  • Acceptance
  • Social opportunities
  • Support system
  • Personality development
  • Career quest
  • Belongingness
  • Don’t want to left behind
  • Leadership Experience
  • To Party

While these are true, these are but a tip of the Philippine socio-cultural iceberg.

First, the concepts of “acceptance”, “social opportunities”, “support system”, “career quest” and “belongingness” are all rooted on the idea that in this country, what matters is “whom you know” and not “what you know”. Meritocracy is nothing but secondary to the endorsement of Congressman, or the governor or high ranking officials. When I did a study of the political economy of public works and engineering districts, a Department of Public Works and Highways official spilled that the curriculum vitae of applicants for the position of District Engineers are flowering with endorsements from public officials, mainly Congressmen. Can now somebody make a correlation between the Congressional pork and the relationship of the Congressional District Representative and the District Engineer?

Second, “acceptance” and “belongingness” also point out that divisiveness is very high in the Philippine society. One can easily spot this by just looking at the DDS-Dilawan divide. This is because of the “black and white” branding leaving no room for gray. Under the present context, for instance, one is easily branded a “dilawan” just for airing a disgust on a government policy — a disgust that is not even aired against President Rodrigo Duterte. But ask what is a “dilawan”, some would say “these are the Liberal Party people” or the elites shelving up the fact that almost all of these “dilawans” are already in the President’s political party.

Third, the concept of “personality development” also shows how weak the Filipino families are that they could not build the personality or even confidence of their children. This is being corroborated by a Facebook post showing that the Philippines is last on the list of ASEAN countries in terms of IQ, or ranked 62nd of 110 countries as per the data presented by WorldData.info.

Fourth, Filipinos are a political animal so the myth that fraternities could provide “leadership experience” abound. In reality, though, what these youth want is a taste of power because of the perks they see from their mayor or governor. “A mayor or a governor gets what he wants and the mayor or governor is a leader. Therefore, I want to be a leader, too.” Many failed to see, or the Filipino schools and families failed to teach, that leadership is a matter of accountability and not benefits. Has anybody admitted to the death of Atio? Or the other victims of hazing? None, because everyone is a Pilate.

The original concepts of fraternities and sororities are good. But then again, these are used and abused and something should be done about it. Maybe it is high time for fraternities and sororities to do an introspection while the government strictly regulate these organizations. Families and schools should also get involve and rethink how to grow and nurture members of the society that are confident and can live even outside a group.

Where’s “express” in South Luzon Expressway?

Commuters from south of Metro Manila were greeted yesterday with a standstill traffic due to the closure of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Lane 3 Northbound after Alabang viaduct to give way to the Skyway extension project. Thousands were late for school and work, and hours were wasted because of the heavy traffic which, heaven forbids, could last until December 2020.

Commuters pass the expressway and pay toll fees because of the promise of speed and convenience. Otherwise, they would have taken the secondary and arterial roads. But with the not-so properly planned traffic system, the toll fees become an unneccessary burden.

If the essence theory is to be followed, since SLEX cannot anymore provide the speed and convenience it promises, it loses its right to impose toll fees. It cannot reason out that the Skyway construction is inevitable, and that in the future, convenience will resume. If that is the case, then the charging of toll fees should also be suspended and resume only when the convenience being provided by an expressway returns.

Second, while it may be true that the Skyway being constructed will provide future benefits, the discussion is focused on the “now”. Will the Skyway operator not charge fees in the future once the road becomes operational? If it is also going to charge toll fees, why should the commuters pay pre and post construction? Can’t fees be exacted only once the facility becomes operational?

Moving forward, SLEX should provide a clear plan and implement a traffic scheme that the commuters deserve. Note that SLEX traffic will build up further with the coming semestral break and during the All Saint’s Day leading to Christmas Day. If it cannot, then it should consider removing the toll fees altogether. This is because if the purpose of the thing is gone, what use is that thing for, right?

ROTC: Harap sa likod, harap sa wala?

I’ve had three years of “military” training — one year of Citizen’s Army Training (CAT), and two years of Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC). I also responded to summons for a two-month reservist’s training post college. What I learned: snappy movements facing one direction at a time and hugging a wooden rifle — things that I couldn’t even use in the times of war, or at least in front of a bully.

I must admit, I learned more in a two-session meeting with a karate instructor than those three years I spent from CAT to ROTC and to the reservist’s training. No wonder why President Rodrigo Duterte himself admitted having tricked the military registrar by submitting medical documents that proved he was too sickly to take ROTC, thus exempting him from the requirement.

Picture credit: pna.gov.ph

In House Bill 5113 introduced by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, it was argued that the ROTC would lead to the “inculcation of the spirit of nationalism, nation building and national preparedness”. But while we also share these motherhood statements, the advocates of ROTC still have to scientifically prove this claim. After graduating in ROTC, for instance, there were rumors of ROTC platoon leaders and battalion commanders mugged or at least threatened by retalliating students. Not the kind of nation-building and national preparedness we expected from ROTC, right?

Section 4 Article 2 of the Philippine Constitution is clear: The Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service. Hence, whether to revive ROTC or not is out of the question.

What should be ask is the content of the curriculum. What is the difference between the previous and the proposed ROTC curriculum? Will the students be receive practical trainings on at least how to fend a punch? Will they also be allowed to touch a real gun and not just hug a wooden one? If not, then scrapped that idea.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.

Why hazing will stay in the Philippines

While it can be argued that there is this “Cain” gene in the blood of human race, the human DNA has evolved with “civility” and a higher level of intelligence inserted in the genetic strands. For that reason, we see countries with almost zero crime rate as they were able to bury the “bad blood” and cultivate more the good one.

In 2018, a student of the University of Sto. Tomas, Atio Castillo, died of hazing. Last week, another student, this time from the Philippine Military Academy, also died adding the number of casualties due to hazing – Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio. With deaths piling up, when will the supposed to be brothers ever learn?

According to Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde, he also underwent hazing and made him to what he is now. He added, though, that hazing is a matter of personal perception on how one accepts or rejects it.

But when the law is clear, perception has no room in the equation. Hazing has been regulated since 1995 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8049, and eventually banned under Republic Act 11053 otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. The saddest part is, those who are expected to uphold and implement the law in the future are the ones taking part in the barbaric act of accepting brothers — the culprits in the Castillo case are future lawyers, and that of Dormitorio are future law enforcers or protectors of the Filipino people.

While it can be argued that there is this “Cain” gene in the blood of human race, the human DNA has evolved with “civility” and a higher level of intelligence inserted in the genetic strands. For that reason, we see countries with almost zero crime rate as they were able to bury the “bad blood” and cultivate more the good one.

Unfortunately, the case is different in the Philippines. Could this be because of socio-economic and cultural complexity that we have? For example, because “whom you know” weighs more than “what you know” so everyone wants to get closer to the “gang” and the powers that be. Or, is it because we are culturally diverse and there is no such thing as “Filipino-ish sense of unity” that many, especially the youth, are in search of “brotherhood”? But Canada is culturally diverse, too. The same with other countries. So if cultural diversity is the context, couldn’t it be addressed by the national leadership that is supposed to bring everyone on-board and to the same direction and ensuring that “no one is left behind”?

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Postponing Barangay and SK Elections and Democracy

Does the looming postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections depict something?

While we are still focused on “hazing” issues and the human rights situation, the national lawmakers in both chambers are cooking up for the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections. According to Senator Francis Tolentino, “the postponement of previous barangay elections has limited the term of service of current officials to only two years, which he said is not enough for them to conduct their training, perform their mandates, as well as the new directives issued by President Rodrigo Duterte regarding cleanup operations.”

While his thoughts are noble for the hapless barangay officials, a disservice to the people is clearly apparent. The Senator and his fellow Congressmen are not looking into the bottom of why the village elections keeps to be postponed again and again, or are simply trying to be naive? It is becoming clear that the barangay and local elections are a good way to reward “performing” barangay and even SK officials. Because they “facilitated” the election of administration candidates last May 2019, isn’t it but right to reward them with a free term extension?

The level of democracy is defined among others by the regularity of elections. The more regular the elections, the higher the level of democracy. But while we bear with the sacrifices of the “short-termed” barangay and SK officials, we should also look at the bigger picture. If elections is being used as a carrot-and-stick, doesn’t this reflect the kind of governance that President Rodrigo Duterte has? Note that the President already postponed thrice the elections. Barangay and SK elections were already postponed from October 2016 to October 2017, but was further pushed back to May 2018 after Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10952.

The current political environment is already being called as “repressive” and “less democratic” by government critics. Does this postponement support or debunk their claims?

Please leave your comments below.