Us Heathens Would Never Understand

Manila Bulletin, August 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

Us Heathens Would Never Understand


When I was back in college, male students who chose not to join any of the Greek letter societies (fraternities as they are more commonly known) were often referred to as “barbarians” by those who had pledged. This was specially so in the University of the Philippines, where the battle to grab freshmen recruits reached epic proportions shortly after enrolment and didn’t die down until the start of the second semester.But then there were already other options at that time organizations (orgs) of different persuasions which were on the rise. Some were based on regional grounds, socio-political leanings, religious beliefs, special interests, and so-called guilds (economics society, etc.).And then there were the athletes, who on principle were never actively recruited by fraternities or orgs for the simple reason that everyone felt they were better left alone in their own world. That their loyalty would always be to their coach and teammates and ultimately, the school that they were playing for, and it was hard to compete against that.Besides, it would be unseemly for teammates to be on opposing sides during a campus war, which was quite common in those days. Perhaps not as brutally violent as that portrayed in the seminal local film “Batch '81,” but enough to scare the bejeezus out of any parents whose teenaged boys were not yet home at the appointed hour (remember, these were the days when there was curfew from 12 midnight to 4 a.m. something you young seem to take for granted nowadays.Nowadays, this symptom of exclusion is evident whenever the UAAP season rolls around and the first Ateneo-La Salle (or La Salle-Ateneo, depends on your points of view) game rolls around. Suddenly, anyone who isn’t part of these two tribes are often left to look in from the outside as the factions gear up and do righteous battle for the pride and honor of their particular color blue or green, take your pick.

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