Another fraternity rumble

Picking up pieces after an Ateneo frat brawl, Whistlestop Restaurant owner pleads with fratmen: Stay away, please. . .

Manila, Philippines. The owner of the Whistlestop Restaurant on Jupiter St., Makati posted an open letter decrying fraternity violence after apparently ongoing tensions between two Ateneo fraternities spilled over into his establishment, and which left the restaurant “in shambles.”

The early-morning brawl, which sources say was between members of the Aquila Legis and Utopia fraternities, both based at the Ateneo Law School, “left the store in shambles — broken bottles, smashed plates, glass everywhere,” Whistlestop owner Lex Ledesma wrote in his blog. “In fact you even managed to somehow break a wood post at the center of the store. On top of that, all the people working there and eating there peacefully were traumatized by watching you maul this single defenceless opponent.”

Sources said as many as ten members of the Aquila Legis Fraternity beat up one Utopian. Ledesma wrote on his blog that the incident took place at 3 a.m. on a Saturday.

Ledesma hinted that the entire incident was captured on CCTV, but said he was fighting a personal instinct to file charges and seek the expulsion of the fraternity members from their school. But, noting a history of fraternity violence in the Philippines that has not abated in years or decades, Ledesma expressed doubt that such action would discourage more senseless confrontations, anyway.

Instead, the Whistlestop owner used his blog to expound on his disdain for the culture of violence perpetuated by, and pervading in, fraternities. Ledesma, who never mentioned any fraternity in his post, directed his letter to “all fraternity members” in general. He expressed his own perplexity at how fraternities justify and rationalize the violence ingrained in fraternity members from the moment of recruitment and hazing and that’s aggravated as they go through university life with deep disdain for rivals.

“I really pray that the spirit of peace enters your lives now and always,” Ledesma wrote. “Honestly, this is my deepest desire. I am sure you believe in some kind of faith and regardless of your specific belief system these teachings surely promotes love for your neighbors, even if they happen to be from a rival fraternity. Also, you are children, grandchildren and maybe even parents, or at the very least future parents, so if you can act respectfully and lovingly to those within your family and frat, shouldn’t this mentality be evident in every other part of your life?”

In the meantime, he said: “If it wouldn’t be too much to ask I would also like to respectfully request that you and your group no longer frequent my restaurants. I am working as hard as I can to support myself and my family by running these establishments. I would prefer it if you find some other place to hang out as I’m sure you would understand.”

Ledesma, himself an Ateneo alumnus, then added: “Every weekend I spend half a day inside the National Bilibid Prison where many frat members are incarcerated for life for crimes that they committed during these so-called rumbles. Having been behind bars for decades now, I would guess they have most probably forgotten the cause of the initial fight that landed them behind bars. I am sure that whatever it was, it had a lot to do with someone’s pride and the defense of that. Somehow, spending a life in prison to defend the pride of a brother doesn’t seem like a fair trade off to me.” Lex Ledesma, Ateneo Alumnus and proprietor of Whistlestop