A number of videos centered on Ateneo Junior High School students were recently circulating on social media. These videos depicted what looked to be situations of bullying by a certain student. The actions and words of the student were heavily touched by a sense of toxic masculinity.
The student in question was shown intimidating classmates by asking “bugbog o dignidad?” (a beating or your dignity?). This same student would also threaten by saying: “Halikan mo na sapatos ko, para ‘di kita bugbugin.” (kiss my shoes so I won’t beat you up.)
In response to the incident, the Ateneo de Manila Junior High Principal released a statement. It assured parents and the public alike that the administration was undertaking all efforts to investigate the case. It also asked for the public to stop sharing the video as it put the minors featured at risk.
However, the tone it took in describing the incident as a “fighting video” caught the attention of the critical public. Some call it a soft stance to refuse the reality of bullying in the institution. Others fear that it means the student may be absolved for the offense.
The post of Avin Ugay on Facebook makes it clear what is problematic in the statement. Aside from its grammatical errors, the standout of the edit states “hindi ‘fight’ yan kung one-sided lang” (it’s not a fight if it’s one-sided).
Dear Ateneo de Manila Junior High School,The bullying incident is bad enough (I was also bullied in Ateneo HS), pero…
To be fair, Ateneo De Manila University President Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ gave further reassurance on the matter through their statement last December 20. He writes: “We are not treating this matter lightly. The Junior High School Committee on Discipline has been meeting since the incident was reported and has been conducting all the inquiries we need to come up with a decision on the matter.”
Fr. Jett also reiterates the Ateneo’s stance on anti-bullying by stating “the school does not condone such behavior […] the school is not silent on its stand on violence and it will not hesitate to impose the penalty of dismissal or even expulsion in cases of grieve misconduct.”
— Ateneo de Manila (@ateneodemanilau) December 20, 2018
Additionally, the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) has also committed action to the issue. It is not certain yet, but the PTA worries that the student may be a Taekwondo practitioner as apparent martial arts movements are seen in the video. If that were to be the case, the PTA may consider lifting the belt of the individual. While they “respect the school’s disciplinary action with the implicated students” they also promised to conduct their own investigation on the matter.
Official Statement of the PTA.
Since there is still so much about the situation that most of us are unaware about, we are left to trust that these capable institutions will fairly investigate and equitably judge the issue. What can be done is to ask for transparency on the matter and hold them accountable for these duties.
What did you think about the Ateneo’s administrative stance on the bullying issue?