Joining fraternities

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Friday, July 18, 2014

FRATERNITIES are again in the limelight in view of the recent death of Guillo Servando, a student of De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde, in the hands of his master initiators from the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

Joining a fraternity is not bad per se. Fraternities are like civic clubs that promote friendship, camaraderie and brotherhood. The difference is that, in joining fraternities, one has to go through rigid initiation rites.

Initiation rites, which include hazing that inflict physical harm, is necessary so neophytes or recruits would feel a sense of belonging. However, with Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, some fraternities have mellowed down. But some still practice hazing.


The existence of fraternities can be traced to centuries back. One of the oldest fraternities is the Mason. Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was a Mason.

Other internationally and locally founded fraternities are the Alpha Sigma Phi, which was founded in 1845; Alpha Phi Omega (APO) was founded in 1925; Beta Sigma (1945) and Aquila Legis of the Ateneo de Manila University law students. Tau Gamma Phi was founded in 1968 and the Alpha Kappa Rho (Akrho) in 1973.

Some politicians are fraternity men. Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Franklin Drilon, Edgardo Angara and Jovito Salonga are brothers in the Sigma Rho. The late senator Marcelo Fernan was also a Sigma Rhoan. The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino were brothers in the Upsilon Sigma Phi when they were law students at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Ralph Recto is a member of the Tau Gamma Phi. Vice President Jejomar Binay is an APO member. I am sure most of those in the judiciary are frat men, especially if they came from prestigious law schools.

I am a member of Gamma Epsilon (Gamma Lambda Epsilon for women) that was founded in 1963 at the University of Santo Tomas. I joined the organization when I was still in college at the Ateneo de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City in 1980.

Like other neophytes, I underwent rigid initiation, both physical and psychological.

Also, you need to have several units in college and must have outstanding academic and scholastic records.

I can therefore say without fear of contradiction that joining a fraternity is not bad at all. There are advantages and disadvantages. The personalities I mentioned above would not have been successful in their chosen field of endeavor had joining a fraternity been bad at all.

Most often, students are forced to join a fraternity because of loneliness, especially if they are away from their parents and friends for the first time. They join a group and feel the sense of belonging.

Not only that. In some colleges and universities where fraternities are recognized, they compete in academics and sports. They also engage in community and humanitarian work.

In some law schools, rival fraternities compete in the bar exam. In schools that does not recognize fraternities, they go underground.

It is unfortunate that the image of fraternities has been tainted by other groups that are more of gangs. There are also fraternities that recruit out-of-school youths and those with criminal records.

Even if I am a frat man, I am not encouraging students to join fraternities. But if they wish to join, I advise them to carefully choose the organization.

To those who are in the organization, if you conduct initiation rites, I advise you to do away with hazing to avoid loss of life. If an unfortunate incident happens during initiation, you will be criminally liable and it might destroy your future.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 19, 2014.


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