Brotherhood needs to be asserted, renewed

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As I See It

BY ELPIDIO R ESTIOKO

Have you ever experienced brotherhood of men that you can count on without hesitation and have a real camaraderie with, not just guys that want to get wasted… a brotherhood that goes beyond beer slugging, basketball, never-ending conversations, unscheduled road trips, and fantasy football?

Author Jonathan Mead raised the issue of the Lost Art of International Brotherhoods as he observed and “felt the void of brotherhood and have wondered if I’ll ever have what childhood friends and old men sitting around barbershop stools have. I’m not talking about just “bros” you shoot the breeze with, but quality, salt-of-the-earth men you know have your back through thick and thin. I’ve felt a pull to build a brotherhood of men I can count on to meet up without hesitance and have real camaraderie with, not just guys that want to get wasted and chase women.”

Brotherhood used to be built into tribes and nomadic cultures. Lionel Tiger, who wrote a book on male bonding, had this to say: “Male bonding is a process with biological roots to the establishment of alliances necessary for group defense and hunting.”

The question, then, becomes: “Have we lost the integral existence of male groups because our modern lives don’t make them a necessity?”

Because of their lack of survival obligation, “modern brotherhood is becoming more of a lost art relegated to secret societies and dying traditions. The few remaining forms of these brotherhoods are fraternities, Boy Scouts, and church groups. You might also have boyhood friendships that has lasted through adulthood, or built-in brotherhood through close brothers, uncles, or perhaps your father,” Tiger commented.

So, if we don’t have brotherhood built-in, perhaps we must create it! That, to me, was how fraternities filled up the void. The Beta Rho Omega Fraternity (BRO), Int’l., otherwise known as the Order of the Royal Oddfellows (BRO) was founded in 1965 with the University of the Philippines (UP) as the mother chapter.

There are three reasons we need brotherhoods now more than ever. The first critical reason, according to the author, is we need brotherhoods to become better men. “While most of these groups have traditionally had a specific agenda — religious, political, or otherwise — it’s through organized groups that men come together to compete, insult, berate, and grow together.”

This is a male-specific form of bonding and growth. Men for thousands of years have come together in intentional groups to sharpen each other in different ways. It’s through challenges from other men that we grow.

Bonding with other men is how we best learn, is the second critical reason. David Deida, author of Way of the Superior Man, eloquently states the defining characteristic of the male sex: “Life as a man is like a constant error correction. Making a mistake, and correcting, then making another mistake and correcting.”

As men, we need this kind of feedback and guidance from other men to help us error correct, to help us learn what it means to be a man. We need to see “correct” behavior in order to find our own most appropriate path, the author explained.

Critical reason number three is: Brotherhoods may be the antidote for fatherlessness and depression. “While more women than men attempt suicide overall, men account for 3/4 of all completedsuicides. And suicide rates for men overall have been climbing sharply over this past decade; among middle-age men, suicide now accounts for almost 30 out of every 100,000 deaths –3X that of their female peers. Rates of suicide for men in their 50s has increased an astonishing 50%. What accounts for this jump? One of the reasons researchers cite is isolation,” the author explained.

During my college days at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, fraternities were the training grounds for leaders in the community. Fraternity members felt they were truly men in campus transitioning to society. Maybe it was that I felt like I could control the course and direction of my own destiny. I had become truly self-reliant for the first time in my life.

But the reason I was able to succeed was because I had a brotherhood that was also working to create their own vocations on their own terms. These men helped lift me up, believe in me, and made me stronger than I was standing alone.

There’s an old saying that goes, “When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll finally do something about it.” I got sick and tired of complaining about a lack of brotherhood when there were so many awesome men around me. So I joined the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity (BRO) in 1966 and met and rubbed elbows with other awesome men to do cool things.

Last Saturday, October 12, 2019, Beta Rho Omega Fraternity, Int’l. celebrated its 54th founding anniversary with the National University (NU) Chapter hosting the affair which was held at NU Bro. Egay Pasion’s Place, Five “A” Garden, Mabolo St., Dacon Homes, Kasibulan Village, Cainta, and Rizal.

The very successful affair was made possible by members of the Organizing Committee headed by Bro. Jim Jimenez, NU with long-distance advising/coordination from Bro. Fortunato Trajano Cruz, Jr. NU, from the US; and members Bro. Jojo Mercado, NU; Bro. Gerry Marcelo, NU; Bro. Egay Sevilla, UP; Bro. Wency Hernandez, PMI; Bro. Pete Frac, NU; Sis. Rose Casabola, MIT; Bro. Frank Doctura, NU; and Bro. Redie Villafuerete, Roosevelt.

Program Host Bro. Gerry Marcelo, NU, started the ball rolling after the registration by leading the invocation; Bro. Egay Sevilla delivering the welcome message; and recognizing brothers and sisters from various chapters from UP, PMI, NU, UE, MIT, Roosevelt, FEU, Feati, PSBA, PCC, UST, and PCCR.

Lunch was served with an audio visual presentation of fraternity activities by Bro. Redie Villafuerte, Roosevelt. The renewal of commitment to Beta Rho Omega Fraternity was recited first by the Pioneers from UP and the host members of NU. Then, the mass recitation was led by Bro. Michael Cordova, MIT… then the BRO banner was signed by all members. The offering of the toast was led by Bro. Wency Hernandez, PMI.

UP mother chapter unanimously emerged as the host of the Emerald Anniversary (55th year) next year. Distribution of Attendance certificates was done by Bro. Jim Jimenez, NU.

While most of the members are still in the Philippines, BRO Int’l. has members now living in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Middle East, and the rest of the world who are willing to go home to attend the annual celebration.

The Pledge of Commitment recited by the members: “Fraternal life is a constant affirmation of brotherhood among men, an unending assertion of collective worth; For this reason, living with men possessed with the same ideals, on this earth must be seen as a continuing movement toward some common goal, toward whatever talent and the thousand possibilities that each can blend to give life a more meaningful definition.”

(Elpidio R. Estioko, UP-Diliman Chapter, Triumvirate, Batch ’66, was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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