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Student Organizations as Conflld Cangs,

University of the PhiUppines, Dillman

Ricardo M. Zarco
Donald J. Shoemaker

e presence of youthful street These fraternity members

l1 gangs is a common, and

growing, occurrence in the
United States (Klein, Maxson. and
typically come from comfortable
family backgrounds with a good
educational foundation. To be
Miller 1995, Klein 1995). Some have admitted to this university. they
noted an increase in suburban must have scored higher than all
gangs and "mall rats" in American other applicants on a standardized
society (Woodon 1995). Also national entrance exam. UPD is
common is the existence of
fraternity hazing and disruptive
behavior among fraternities during
considered a very prestigious
university in the Philippines. Many
of the alumni of these fraternities
parties and other social functions are public officials and statesmen
(Nuwer 1990, Sanday 1990). of the country. They occupy
However, gang-like conflicts among positions of leadership. influence,
college fraternities are rare. Such is and professional stature. It is
not the case in other countries. The reasonable to expect the current
purpose of this paper is to present members of these fraternities to
information and analysis con- aspire to the same positions of
cerning the existence of in te r- power and influence that former
fraternity violent conflicts on the members now occupy in the
campus of a major sta.te university Philippines.
in the Philippines, the University
of the' Philippines, Diliman Yet. the activities of these
(UPD). fraternity members often involve

Philippine Sociological RevIew Vol. 43 Nos. 1-4(1995):6984.

violent conflicts, fights which result violence. responses of fraternity

in injury. and occasionally. in death. members to personal interviews.
This statement is not meant to imply and possible explanatory factors.
that these fraternities do hot peform
many useful social services and Methodology
educational functions on the
campus or within the greater Data for this paper were
society. for that matter. Rather. the gathered through two methodo-
existence and regular occurrence of logical procedures. First. university
these violent conflicts pose not only police reports on known incidences
a dilemma and behavioral problem of campus violence were reviewed.
to the university community. but These reports covered the period
they also present an interesting January 1. 1991 to December 31.
behavioral phenomenon for the 1994. These reports recorded the
sociological analysis of youth following information: (1) the
deviance. Here is a situation which names of individuals suspected of
involves behavior similar to youth involvement in the incident; (2)
street gangs "in the United States but their social organization member-
which is committed by middle-class" ship. if any; (3) the identity of the
fraternity members at a selective victim(s) and assailant(s) in the
unive rsity. 1 incident; (4) the numbers of victims
and assailants; and (5) a description
Historical accounts from of the incident. including time.
university administrators and faculty location. weapons confiscated.
indicate that fraternity violence on injuries received by the victim.

the UP campus began at around the previous incidents and/or pro-
end of WWII. with the death of a vocations between the members of
fraternity pledge during a hazing the conflicting organizations. and
incident. In the 1960s. a student was witness accounts. if available.
killed in a conflict between rival Questions concerning information
fraternities. signalling the escalation in the police reports were answered
of fraternity violence from hazing by police supervisors. There were
of pledges to interfraternity 124 reported police investigations
fracases. Reports of such inter- of violent incidences involving

fraternity conflicts have surfaced fraternity organizations during this
regularly since then. but no four-year period.
systematic data or studies have been
published on these incidents.
The second me thodological
The purpose of this paper is to procedure involved personal
discuss and analyze this pheno- interviews with members of 20
menon by addressing contemporary fraternities on the UPD campus. The
campus records of inter-fraternity interview instrument was pretested


soon after the beginning of fall of the reported incidences (Table
semester classes. Interviews were 1). .
then conducted by UPD students,
under the supervision of the senior A typical pattern of conflict was
author, from July 1994 to December for a single fraternity member to
1994. The interviews were held in be assaulted by a group of several
various campus locations, including "rival" fraternity members in a blitz-
the fraternity hangout, locally type of maneuver. As the data in
referred to as a tam boyan, or, Table 1 indicate, this pattern
loosely translated, a standby shelter. occurred in 68 of the 195 inci-
The total number of interviews dences. Often, the police report
collected was 138. Some fraternities indicated a previous encounter
were not represented in these between members of the two
interviews. However, all fraternities, sometimes within hours
fraternities identified in the police of the reported attack. In these
reports as being involved in instances, the reported conflict
violent episodes with other frater- appeared to be a retaliation for the
nities were included in the earlier incident, in which the
interviews. Respondents were current 'victim's" fraternity brother,
asked questions concerning their or brothe rs , was victimized by
attitudes regarding social values, members of the current offending
educational or academic goals, and fraternity. Less often (in 28 cases of
peer re la tio n sh ip s ; parental
knowledge and previous involve-
the 195 incidents), there would be
a "rumble" in vol ving se ve ral
ment in fraternity activities; and me mb ers of rival fraternities in
general perceptions concerning physical combat. In almost all
the image of their fraternity on instances of interfraternity conflicts,
the UPD campus. there were only two fraternities
All of the attacks occurred in
Police reports. Data from the the camp us, and most of these
UPD campus police files indicated
195 reported incidents of inter-
happened in just a few locations,
including the studen t activities
fraternity violence or near violence center, where the tam boyan!
during the four-year period of were located, and academic build-
study. Of the 25 registered ings. In addition, the majority of
fraternities on the campus, 19 were these conflicts occurred between
identified on at least one occasion 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., with
in these reports as either instigator another "peak" period occurring
or 'victim." Five of these fraternities from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
were identified in nearly two-thirds Rarely did the attacks happen


Figure 1. TIme of occureace of vloleace, by bour



1v I--

8 - -

l - - -

4 - I-- - - - r--

2 -- - I-- - I-- - - - l - I-- -

':00 ':00 10:00 13:00 1:00 4:00 6:00 8:00 10:00
13:00 1:00 4:00
ID. LID. LID. DD p.m. p.M. a.m. no p.m. ma a.m. a.lD


Primary data complied by the UPD Investigation Section

Victims usually were beaten December 1994, one fraternity

around the head and shoulders, member was beaten to death in one
with injuries recorded as slight of these fracases, in front of several
physical injuries (Table 3). This onlookers and in broad daylight.
means the victim was not hurt While the assailants were wearing
seriously enough. to require masks, witnesses were able to
hospitalization but rather, minor identify many of them. They are
medical attention. However, in now on trial for this crime.


Table Z. UPD fraternityviolence: weapons used In Iheassault and frequency Oanuary 1991 to December
31, 1994)

Weapons' Frequency

Clubs: Subtotal 221

steel pipes 166
baseball bat 30
wooden club 22
chaco (flexible club) 2
rubber pipe 1
lIand-thrown projectiles: Subtotal 75
pillbox (explosives) 51
stones 15
molotov bombs (incendiaries) 9
bladed weapons Subtotal 18
paper cutters 9
knives 6
Can knives 2
. long knife (kris) 1
Miscellaneous: Subtotal 105
fists 59
glass bottle 19,
tear gas 10
guns 4
ice picks 3
tennis racket
(100 pes)

paddle 1
pillbox materials 1
rattan stick 1
walking stick 1
wrench 1
Total 419

'These were confiscated and reported weapons by the police.

~: UPD Police Department .

.Th e survey dealt with a mine possible distinguishing
variety of social characteristics features among .members of
and attitudes of the res- these organizations and potential
pondents. These will be explanatory factors for fraternity
explored in an effort to deter- violence.


Table 3. Number of persons involved and injured, and types of injuries sustained as a result
of violenl incidents between fraternities, by calendar yea~

Year No. of Persons Physical lnlarles Sustained

Involved Injured Slight Serious Killed

1991 January
10 December 31 166 13 13 0 0
1992 January
10 December 31 211 20 17 3 0
1993 January
10 December 31 326 32 29 3 0
1994 January
10 December 31 150 30 24 5 1
Tolal 853 95 83 11 1

Based upon Investlgatlon reports of Ihe UPD Pollee

Interviews process. However, all of the high

violence fraternities, and all but one
Personal interview data of the mid-violence ones, were
revealed several attitudinal represen ted.
differences among the fraternities,
as classified according to their There is no claim that the
appearances in the police files of sample in this survey is
interfraternity conflicts. Using the representative of the fraternities
figures presented in Table 1, all identifie.d by the respondents, or
25 fraternities were categorized into of fraternities in general. The
one of three levels of violence. Five total number of fraternity
fraternities which were reported at members is not known by UPD
least 20 times were classified as officials, perhaps not even by the
"high violence." Those appearing fra te rnities the mselve s. Strength
from 5 to 11 times were categorized in numbers is considered a
as "mid-violence," and the valuable asset for the fraternities,
remainder were described as "ow
violence. "
maybe particularly for the more
violent ones, and membership
fi g u res are not pub lis h e d .
The number of interviews Fraternity identities in the police
conducted with each fraternity is reports were derived from
presented in Table 4. Some frater- member confessions and/or eye-
nities were not represented in this witness identifications. Given
survey. Their members were either these circumstances, complete
not available for interviews or were representation in any survey is
uncooperative with the interview problematic and difficult to

ascertain', Nonetheless. crude and it is in, th iss P tr1 t th a t th e
differences among fraternities f 0 11 0 win g d is c u s s ion S I S
may be observed in such a survey. presented.

Tabie 4. Student organizations in three groups according to level of violence"

Group Number Surveyed

High violence (between 23 and 32 total violent incidents):

. Alpha Phi Beta 23
Sclntilla Juris 8
Sigma Rho 11
Tau Gamma Phi 4
Upsilon Sigma Phi 8

Mid-violence (between 5 and 11 total violent incidents):

Alpha Phi Omega 7
Alpha Sigma 11
Beta Epsilon 6'
Beta Sigma 7
Latagaw Brotherhood 7
Epsilon Chi NS b
PI Sigma 15
Tau Alpha 5
Low violence (between 0 and 3 total violent incidents):
Beta Kappa 1
Brotherhood of the Filipinos 3
EMe l 2
Gamma Sigma PI NS
Kappa Epsilon 3
Order of Aletheia NS
Palaris Confraternity 3
Pan Xenia 6
PI Omicron NS
Sigma Kappa PI 4
Silak-Silab Confraternity NS
Vanguard 4
Total 138
"Pollee data from January 1, 1991 to December 31, 1994
bNSmeans not in survey.

One possible source of tive s, including fathers. who were

motivations for violence might be rn e rnb e rs, of the fraternity. and
generally termed '1egacy."Perhaps learned of the violence. and
members of fraternities have rela- possibly of the animosities. among


certain groups on campus from the mean age when they joined
these relatives. In 'addition, the fraternity was 17.96 for the
members might have parents who low violence members, 17.86 (or
they feel accept their participation the mid-violence respondents,
in violent activities whether or not and 17.67 for those belonging to
these parents were ever involved the high violence fraternities.
in a fraternity or sorority. The These numbers support the view
results of this survey indicate that that violence among fraternities is,
the fraternity members were not to some degree, a product of
significantly distinguishable in relatively young age and, corres-
terms of familial legacy . Members pondingly, of social immaturity
of more violent fraternities felt and peer susceptibility of
their parents approved of their fraternity membe rs.
activities compared to members of
low violence groups, but it was Besides these social charac-
not clear from these responses if teristics of fraternity members, the
the parents approved of the survey also measured attitudinal
violent activities of their sons. views of the respondents. One
Furthermore, it should be such attitudinal expression
emphasized that these responses concerned the approval of
were from the perspective of the violence to resolve disputes. The
respondents, not of the parents responses to this item are
themselves or other relatives. presented in Table 5. As the
figures indicate, there was no
Another possible source of significant difference among the
influence on violence among these three levels of fraternities with
fraternities is the age factor. Perhaps respect to approval of violence to
the more violent groups are settle disputes. However, the
composed ofyounger students who percentages in Table 5 indicate that
might be more susceptible to members of the most violent
violence as a means of expressing fraternities express greater
group loyalty or of defending one's approval for using violence to settle
sense of honor and pride. disputes than do the members of
Significant age differences among the other fraternities, and this
those surveyed did appear. The conclusion also applie s to the
mean age of the respondents be- "don't know" or "no response"
longing to the low violence category. Perhaps in this instance,
organizations was 20.11 years, 19.91 hesitancy to provide a clear,
years for the mid-violence group, positive response to the statement
and 19.35 years fo r the high implies unstated approval of
violence fraternities. In addition, violence.


Table 5. Violence as an acceptable way to the overall importance of having

settle disputes a "good UP education" among
students. including members of
Response Low Mid- IIIgh fraternities.

No 23 48 36 Table 6. Value or a "good UP education'"

(88.5%) (82.8%) (66.7%)
Yes 2 6' 10 Value Low Mid- High
(7.7%) (10.3") violence
Don't know 148 Lowest importance 2 6 ,
or no response (3.8") (6.9") (14.8%) (7.''') (10.3") (13%)
Next to lowest 4 12 9 r-"-y--

Results: chl~square .. 12.09, ell .. 6, importance (15.4%) (20.7%) (16.7%)

p~value ...059 Next to highest 14 13 11
importance (53.8") (22.4%) (20.4%)
The respondents were also IIIghest (; 27 27
importance (23.1%) (46.6%) (50")
asked to rank the importance of the
following four values in terms of Results: chi-square.. 12.09, ell .. 6,
the importance of these values in p.value ...059
their lives: "a democratic and just
society"; "a good UP education"; The responses to the
"strong moral values"; and "good importance of strong moral values
relations with the barka da;" The indicate that members of the
first of these value statements more violent fraternities tended
yielded no significant differences to see this value as having lesser
among fraternity members importance in their lives than did
surveyed. With respect to the value other respondents (Table 7):
of a good UP education. the Th is val u e was 0 flo w est
percentages revealed that the
more violent fraternity members Table 7. -Value or "strong moral values"
accorded this value lower impor-
tance than did the respondents Value Low Mid- High
from the low violence fraternities. violence
but the differences were not Lowest importance 1 4 8
linear (Table 6). For example. a (3.8%) (6.9") (14.8%)
greater percentage of the mo'st Next to lowest . 3 12 20
violent fraternity members importance (11.5%) (20.7%) (37%)
reported this value as having both Next to highest 10 29 17
importance (33.5%) (50%) (31.5%)
the lowest and the highest IIlghest 12 13 9
importance in their lives. Perhaps importance (46.2%)(22.4%) (16.7%)
these fluctuations reflect genuine
disagreement among the res- Results:cbl-square= 17.07, ell .. 6,
pondents. or perhaps they reflect p-value ...009


importance to members of the It was not clear from the
most violent fraternities, but it responses in Table 8 just how
was of highest importance to extensive the conceptualization of
those from the least violent a barkada was to the respondents.
organizations. For example, while it may be
assumed that the concept applies
It is with regard to the to the immediate members of a
importance of the barka d a, how- fraternity or to social organizations.
ever, that the strongest and most it may also apply to the extended
consistent differences among the membership of these groups.
respondents appeared (Table 8). A
barkada is a social group, basically,
including the alumni and adult
supporters of the group. The full
a peer group, which is an important extent of such an identification.
social characteristics in Philippine particularly for the more violent
society, including settings en- groups, could have an impact on
compassing criminal or deviant their behavior and attitudes
be h a v i 0 r (AI dab a - Li m 1 969, regarding the acceptance of
Jocano 1975:Chapter 8). It is not violence in certain situations. What
surprising to learn that such a is clear from these findings.
grouping is of importance to however. is that identification with
some fraternity members. The the barkada is strongly associated
order of its importance in the lives with violence among fraternities,

of these respondents, according

to the reported levels of violence
among these different fraternities,
and this factor should be included
in attempts to explain and control
fraternity conflicts.
however, is not only the most
statistically significant finding of Table 8. Value or "good relations with
this study, but it has important barkada"?
implications for the dynamics
Value Low Mid- High
of violence in this setting. Over
46 percent of the members of the
high violence group stated that the Lowest 18 28 23
barkada was of highest or next to
highest importance in their lives,
Next to lowest
(29.2%) (48.3%) (42.6%)
6 22 6
(23.1%) (37.9%) (11.1%)
and this figure was several times
Next to highest 1 6 18
higher than for the other two importance (3.8%) (10.3%) (33.3%)
groups. Moreover. fewer members IIighest 127
of the most violent fraternities importance (3.8%) (3.4%) (13%)
indicated the b arkad a was of
lowest importance in their lives than -Results: ehl-squaree 26.51, dl c 6,
p-value c .00018
did respondents from the other two
levels of fraternities.


Conclusions and Ferracuti 1967) which
fraternities may be emulating in
From the results of this paper, their own way. Although such
several behavioral patterns and violence may involve a heavier use
attitudinal characteristics were of firearms than was found among
evident. Most of the violent the UPD fraternities, the general
incidences occurred in the form of pattern of resolving disputes
a gang attack of several members through violent means may be an
upon a lone, isolated rival member overriding, cultural conditioning
during daylight hours, in prominent factor in fraternity conflicts.?
and well-populated areas of the
campus. In addition, most of these Another possible explanatory
. violent incidences involved a small scenario involves the allegiance of
fraction of fraternities, referred to members of violent fraternities to
in this paper as 'high violence" fra- their group, and such faithfulness
ternities. Furthermore, the majority may be more likely to occur among
of conflicts involved hand-wielded younger, more impressionable
weapons (guns were almost never students. While such loyalty and
used), and resulted in minor or . peer influence may be expected in
slight physical injuries. While there most social groups, the strength of
was no evidence of a familial legacy this connection se e rn s greater
among the various fraternities, among the mere violent groups.
which might account for some of Perhaps this connection is
the long-standing violence, the accidental. However, it might be

more violent groups were necessary to invoke strong
composed of younger members sentiments of group identity and
who, collectively, looked upon their loyalty among members, especially
group, the barkada, as the most with newer members, in order to
important force in their lives. in tensify the violence and animosity
which seem to exist among rival
These conclusions suggest fraternities.
several possible explanatory factors
only a few ofwhich can be addressed
in this paper. These explanations are
The importance of the barkada
to violent fraternity members was

based on sociocultural aspects of already discussed in this paper. The
Philippine socie ty. presence of another cultural value
in Philippine society might facilitate
One possible explanation of the socialization process of newer
fraternity violence is the cultural fraternity members to the notion
acceptance of violence as a matter that rival fraternities are the
. of settling disputes, a general "enemy." This value is known as
"subculture of violence" (Wolfgang pakikisam a, which refers to "giving


in" to the wishes and directives of in some areas of the Philippines
others. particularly older members further contribute to this expla-
of one's social setting. Studies nation by suggesting the presence
indicate this value is introduced in of a ''big people" mentality. in
early stages of socialization. which political and economic
primarily through the family setting power are thought to provide
(Guthrie and Jacobs 1966:Chapter favoritism and privilege (Machado
11). However. the concept of 1983. Lynch 1984).
pakikisama is also seen in other
social settings (Lynch 1970: 11). Another cultural aspect of
pre sum ably including fra tern ity
Philippine society which may be
operative in this situation is the
value of avoiding shame, or biy a,
This explanatory path not only upon oneself or one's family
suggests the presence of younger. (Bulatao 1964. Lynch 1970). In the
more impressionable members present context. shame may
within the more violent fraternities become relevant when a student is
but also the existence of a failing in school. To avoid the
conscious. perhaps calculated. humiliation of being dismissed from
training and socialization process school because of failing grades, the
involving the virtual indoctrination student might purposefully engage
of animosity and violence in in disruptive behavior. in the

pledges and younger members of

the fraternity. The younger average
context of fraternity violence. in
order to be disciplined for this
age of the members of the more reason rather than for the reason
violent fraternities. and the of failing in school.
retaliatory nature of most of the
recorded instances of inter- The present analysis indicates
fraternity violence on the UPD that most instances of fraternity
campus. support this interpretation. violence occur during the second
half of any given term but not
Other researches in the during the exam period (data not
Philippines suggest the presence
ofa significant amount ofmiddle-
shown). This pattern provides some
support for the view that violence
class delinquency (although not is used to camouflage a student's
gang delinquency). which some poor academic performance.
interpret as an indication of a However. systematic analysis of this
general feeling of invulnerability scenario is not possible with the
to sanctions and prosecution existing data since the academic
among upper middle-class youths records of individual fraternity
(Shoemaker 1992). Analyses of members are not available. (As
sociocultural values and lifestyles mentioned earlier. fraternity

, 81

membership is not indicated In However, it is interesting that many
university records.) of the sociocultural values and
behavioral patterns are found
Avoidance of shame may be a within both settings. It is uncertain
factor in the explanation of frater- just what, if any, connection may
nity violence in another way. Insults exist between street gangs and
or threats to the fraternity can be fraternity groups. Certainly, in this
used to foster a stronger sense of study, there was no indication that
group identity and loyalty. In effect, the fraternities had any association
the fraternity becomes a kind of whatever with street gangs in the
family for its members, and threats slums. In addition) Jocano's
to the group become interpreted as discussion provides no indication
threats to the individual's sense of that street gang members have any
pride and dignity, values which are connection with universities or
highly regarded in Philippine fraternities in any manner) except
society. perhaps as individual workers or
laborers, on college campuses. Yet,
Many of these sociocultural there may be a more general
themes are discussed in Jocano's pattern of cultural diffusion which
discussion of street gangs in a is manifested in violent and
Manila slum (1975:Chapter VII). otherwise deviant behavior among
Although exact ages were difficult certain groups of young adults
to determine,Jocano indicated that
most of these gang members were
which cuts across the social class

'young," -but young adults would
seem to be more accurate (the Clearly, we are far from
average age of a street gang grasping a complete understanding
member, according to Jocano, was of the violence observed in this
25). Furthermore, most gang study. The explanatory scenarios
members had been arrested or had identified in this paper offer some
served time in prison, and they possible clues, but.additional study
typically came from lower seems particularly warranted for'
socioeconomic backgrounds.
These differences between
this topic before more definite
interpretations may be offered.

fraternity members and street Such analyses would not only
gang members render direct provide more understanding of the
comparisons between the two violence among the fraternities on
kinds of groups difficult to this Philippine campus but may also
maintain. Moreover, current offer a fuller knowledge of patterns
systematic information on street and motivations of violence
gangs in the Philippines is lacking, among youths or young adults in
as Klein correctly notes (1995:217). general.


lbil relearch was revised from a paper Maria Imelda Cardona, Marlon Dulouan.
presented at the annual meeting of the Maria de Guzman,and 1imothy Wolfe. Funds
American Society of Criminology in for this study were provided by the
Nlvember 1995. 'Ihe authors would like to Rockefeller Foundation. the College of Arts
thank the following individuals for their and Science Small Grants Project, VPI and
ASsistance in the collection and analysis of SUo and the University of the Philippines.
the data for this paper: Kristine Aganon. Diliman.


lLomnitz (1986) identifies

young gangs called porros in
Mexico. Some of these gangs are
given as a major explanation for
the level and persistence of
in te rfraternity violence on the
found on university campuses, but campus. Essentially, this fraternity
their members tend to serve the member justified the violent con-
function of fomenting social and flicts among rival fraternities
political unrest through terrorism, because, as he saw it, that was
not the pursuit of a collegiate the way political d isp ute s and
education (1986:15-16). Moreover, power struggles were handled
members of porros tend to come in the Philippines. The
from lower-class backgrounds. As fraternities, therefore, were just
Lomnitz (1986:19) observes, 'The following the behavior patterns
porros is a rebel of the low- they saw among adults in their
income neighborhoods .... Thus,
the presence of gang activity
society. One potential problem
with this line of reasoning is that
within a fraternity setting would similar patterns of fraternity
be unusual in Mexico. violence are not found in all
campuses across the Philippines,
2In a personal conversation although the fuller extent of
with a fraternity member on the fraternity conflicts in the country
UPD campus, this reason was is not known.


Aldaba-Iim, Este fania Guthrie, George M. and Pepita

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