This morning, I was reminded of the frat boys (and girls) I met when I was a student at a state university, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). I was still a devout Catholic then, but volunteerism was already part of my lifestyle, even as a student. We were in the middle of preparation for World Youth Day ’95, and I was among the volunteers along with hundreds of Catholic students from all over Metro Manila, when I first met not just one, but a group of men and women who belonged to the most popular and feared, if not respected, fraternity group in the campus, the APO. I was face-to-face with their leaders and I was learning from them!
I must admit that I never thought that they would even take part of a religious activity, no matter how huge it may be, let alone volunteer. I think that was the day I changed my mind about fraternities. Although I still abhor their infamous induction rites, I must say that I had started to look at them, or at least these awesome people that I have met, with respect. They were gentle and kind and they even offered to help me with some of my classes then.
I remember passing by their hangout place near the staircase at one of the buildings in the campus, and I had often wondered before meeting them why people, especially guys, seemed afraid to linger in that area. When I was told that frat boys stay there, I also started to feel a little uncomfortable, thinking that a frat war might break out and I might get caught in the middle of it. After meeting them, however, I realized that I was really being silly!
I saw them nearly every day for about two weeks until the World Youth Day was over. We would nod, wave, even chit-chat for a while whenever we would see each other in the hallway or staircase after that. I remember some of my classmates would be incredulous that I, a freshman then, would wave and sometimes even talk to these guys as if they were my big brothers (and sisters).
Hence, when I saw this online news article on NBC News about a group of frat brothers doing their best to make a young cancer patient named Lexi Brown feel better by visiting her, bringing her food and gifts, singing to her, etc., I knew instantly that the story is not far-fetched at all. I, myself, was once given the privilege to be treated like a younger sister by some frat brothers too. And I wish all fraternity members are like them.