Not in vain

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    FORMER senator Sonny Alvarez wants the alumni of colleges and universities to actively monitor the initiation rites of fraternities and sororities and put an end to all forms of hazing for good.

    Once, as chancellor or head of the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity at the University of the Philippines, he was forced to personally supervise the final initiation rites of one batch of neophytes after the hazing became vicious and rampant. He said he could no longer stand the maltreatment of neophytes being slapped and punched frequently and hit with boat paddles until their bottoms and inner thighs swelled and scorched. (Many neophytes could not sit in public buses for a week – and it looked funny since the buses were only half-full – because of the intense pain caused by sitting.) Hazing was not yet illegal then. Alvarez also called on the PMA alumni to get together and effectively ensure that hazing is stopped once and for all.

    Sen. Miguel Zubiri recounted how he was beaten up more than the others at UP Los Banos because of his mestizo looks, and could not understand why those who were not good-looking had been favored. Zubiri was somehow emboldened by his injuries and went on to beat up incoming neophytes to get even. He had since regretted it. For him and other fratmen and now prominent legislators it was a badge they carried proudly from enduring such physical and verbal abuse.

    Former senator and Manila Hotel president and CEO Joey Lina and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez were sure that former PMA Superintendent Ronnie Evangelista and former Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Victor Bacarro were aware about the hazing of Darwin Dormitorio but turned a deaf ear to the criminal maltreatment of the victim and many others.

    Dormitorio was a constituent of Rodriquez who could not hide his outrage as he called for Evangelista and Bacorro to be charged in court .He lamented that PMA superintendents and cadet commandants had been inclined to preserve the culture of violence which remains a common belief at the premier national cadet institute to be necessary in building up the physical, emotional and mental fitness of the cadets.

    This, Rodriguez and Lina stressed, has contributed to what has emerged as the nearly intrinsic value of aggression, retaliation and violence in the mind of cadets. Due to the sworn mafioso silence in the academy, Dormitoirio never once uttered a word about his brutal maltreatment to any of his visitors at the hospital, even as he was about to lie dying.

    Lina wondered why hazing still goes on in the country while it has virtually vanished from US universities and colleges where we took after. Instead of maltreatment and humiliation, Zubiri said neophytes there are subjected to pranks and jokes such as running around in their underwear, being forced to drink liquor, groped by girls, kissed by gays, made to date those with bad breath or being left alone in a cemetery overnight. Physical and verbal assault were replaced thankfully with fun and camaraderie.

    Alvarez, Zubiri, Lina, Rodriguez and Senator Sonny Angara were the guests who took part in a radio forum last Sunday night

    The tragedy that befell Dormitorio should finally open a door to bring light and honor once again to the halls of PMA. Through his deep compassion and despite the ordeal he was going through, Dormitorio saved two of his despairing colleagues from committing suicide and two others from quitting the academy. The four were obviously at the end of their rope in the face of the brutal hazing and emotional breakdown they tried to endure. In the end, Darwin Dormitorio gave up his life for them and many others who follow in the academy.

    The PMA should recognize these selfless efforts of Dormitorio as distinct and honorable and should ultimately bestow on him a great tribute for his death and sacrifice in paving the way for the end of hazing and other forms of maltreatment. Without the leadership of PMA admitting it, it has to undo its bondage to tradition and the wickedness and arrogance that promote it. And only then can we truly say that Dormitorio did not die in vain.