Despite the severe weather disturbance, around 20,000 students still trooped to Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park on Sunday morning to show their support to the nationwide campaign against hazing.
Students from different colleges and universities in Manila joined “Walk for Peace: Youth against Violence” to remember those who ended up being victims of some fraternities’ thirst for power and violence.
The participants also included at least 25 volunteers from WIN Youth Club and more from other organizations in Valenzuela City that support House Bill No. 4714 or otherwise known as the ‘Servando Act’.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian filed the Servando Act, which has been calling for the total repeal of the ‘Anti-Hazing Law of 1995’ as it seeks total prohibition of hazing.
Organized by the city’s youth welfare bureau, the program also paid tribute to at least 20 students who have died in hazing rites since 2001 as it urged participants to shun fraternities with a history of violence and hazing.
“I just want to make everybody realize that at least one or two students will die because of hazing every year. It could be your brother or friends,” Manila Youth Welfare and Development Bureau head Angel Espiritu III said.
“Their parents will never see them again and will never know what they could have amounted to had they grown up. Hazing has to stop,” the leader added.
Amid intermittent rains and gusty winds, students marched almost two kilometers from the assembly point at Quirino Grandstand to the Bonifacio Shrine beside Manila City Hall from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
At the shrine, 20 male students who were in shirts stained with red paint to represent blood stood, each one a stand-in for a student killed in hazing rites such as Guillo Servando of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Marvin Reglos of San Beda College, and EJ Karl Intia of University of Makati.
Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes then prayed over 10 fire trucks surrounding the shrine to bless the water these were carrying.
The fire trucks then showered the students with the water to symbolize a “spiritual cleansing” which, Reyes and Espiritu explained, would hopefully wash away the students’ and fraternities’ thirst for power and violence.
“We need the water to cleanse our bodies, minds, hearts, and our whole being, our source of strength and energy. May this water be used to cleanse us from violence within us,” Reyes said in prayer.
Espiritu said the program was just the start of his bureau and the Manila City government’s anti-hazing advocacy. They will now tour schools, colleges, and universities to further campaign against hazing.
Aurelio Servando, hazing victim Guillo’s father, was overwhelmed by the support of the students against hazing.
“I hope this movement gathers steam and spreads through the country. Hopefully this will be a counterculture to the false brotherhood that hazing advocates,” he said. (Camille Nepomuceno)