Preparing for Et Tu Brod? may not have been as excruciating as birthing pains. I just liken it to cold feet that one has when preparing for a wedding (I should know…hehe), when may ask till a day or two before d-day: Ano ba, tuloy na ba talaga tayo dito? Could we move it pa? Ito na ba talagang day na ‘to? Pa’no ba naman, twas only a day before when our speakers confirmed their availability with us. And we were so thankful that at the last minute, Sir Leonen called to say that he could make it na pala. Kung hindi, he couldn’t have made his now “famous” statement for the Sigma Rhoans who are attempting to sue the University, “Bring it on!”
Prof Yacat (whom I later on learned became the student of one of my favorite blockmates, Miss Vita) was our first speaker. He spoke about the socio-psychological perspectives in fraternity relations and recruitment – specifically hazing . (I wish I could have listened more but I was going around welcoming speakers who were still coming in at that time, but what struck me was the reasons he pointed out why the culture of violence in fraternities still remains. Among of the reasons are the so-called “knee-jerk reactions” – that initial burst of outrage against the incident, that are unfortunately unsustainable).
Sir Leonen spoke next. Salient points that I was able to note were:
- The University’s fury as regards the incident. – That students had the gall to say that the Admin wasn’t doing anything, and that it ought to be entirely reponsible for such incidents. And that despite 21 expulsions due to fraternity related violent incidents and University IRRs, deaths such as Villanueva’s and Mendez’s still take place.
- A challenge that he posed on Sigma Rho Fraternity – “You want to sue us? Bring it on!
- A challenge for fraternities (or even sororities) who may have had involvement in hazing, even in the past – to come out, come forward.
- A challenge for students to go beyond candle-lighting and rallying.
Dean Alex Brillantes was next to speak about NCPAG experiences with fraternities and their corresponding initiatives. He made a call to help Cris’ family and to not leave the lawyers with their lonely job (as Sir Leonen put it).
Sir Hilbay was up next. He was tasked to speak about fraternities amidst the constitutional freedom to associate and its limitations. He touched on the invocation of the “right to remain silent” by Sigma Rho, even when asked by people who are not part of the judicial system. (Oo nga naman…). He also spoke about a narrowly-focused ban against fraternities who engaged in physical & psychological hazing as part of its initiations. He likened it to the ban on sports organizations. (I don’t know how such a ban could be realistically implemented though). Sir Hilbay’s proposal as to a University-wide Summit on Hazing was a hit with me.
Finally came Former Senator/DILG Secretary/Laguna Governor Joey Lina, Anti-Hazing Law author. (I love Joey Lina! I lived in Laguna during his term and the province seemed to have progressed a lot at that time. He’s a godly person, a renewed Catholic. Plus I found out yesterday that he was friends pala withmy dad – nag-abot daw sila sa law, magkasunod na batches). From his talk, I learned that the final version of the bill wasn’t what he originally drafted it to be. He was proposing some amendments to it. He spoke of some cultural things that we could do and emphasized a multi-sectoral approach. (I liked his suggestion about having an National Anti-Hazing Month).
Mara and I came next. We discussed a (hopefully) comprehensive strategy to combat hazing from various fronts. The idea is an anti-hazing and violence watch. We call it “Student-led Anti-hazing Watch Alliance” or SAWA. Sir Te has already agreed to be our adviser. (details in another blog entry).
Midway though our presentation (or rather sa intro pa lang), we decided to insert the Q&A portion (due to Joey Lina’s request). After Soph & Arianne’s initial questions, a non-UP law barrister (I heard he’s an Aquilan daw) reviewing at the UP Law Center asked his question and later on employed a combative stance against the former senator. The discussion was becoming heated, as Sir Joey Lina was engaging this guy. I motioned Toff to cut it and say that Joey Lina had to go because it was his daughter’s birthday (which was true naman talaga). While the barrister guy had a point – his point being: it’s not just the “code of silence” which discourages fratmen, even those with minimal participation in the hazing to come out – the law itself, which makes them equally liable as principals, scares them from doing so. Kaso he was really bastos. Wala man lang pakundangan for Joey Lina’s stature and all.
After this point, the Media left to follow the family of Cris Mendez. They were supposed to drop by before meeting up with Senator Salonga, but they were barraged by Media and couldn’t enter anymore.
Sir Esguerra stayed behind to be our faculty reactor (thank you so much sir!). Victor, was the student reactor naman. I didn’t get to hear what they said because I had to go out due to a personal emergency (thanks Soph for coming to my rescue!)
So ngayon, tapos na. Special thanks to Alyansa (specially to Mike Lo, Mara, Tin, Jeff, Third, Chessa), UP Law volunteers (Rosanne, Soph, Arianne, Ethel, Rob, Pierre, Bernice for the help), emcees Toff & Leni (good job, as always!…especially Toff, winner ang moderating skills!). Thanks to the media, especially to GMA7. Thank you to everyone who came.
And now…the challenge is how to make these efforts sustainable…preparing for the next meeting of SAWA and other follow up initiatives para di ito malimutan. Sana mas marami pang tumulong at ma-involve. The call for volunteers in this fight against campus violence will be an ongoing thing. (To my fellow bloggers, yes, it’s good to blog, but if we can, let’s go beyond blogging)