MANILA, Philippines – Growing up, Horacio Castillo III never experienced corporal punishment. His parents didn’t believe in hurting their child to point out his mistake.
He was never slapped nor spanked, not even for bad behavior. Why would you if he immediately says sorry anyway, his father says.
One can only imagine his parents’ horror when they saw Horacio bruised and bloated in a morgue on Sunday night, September 17. Imagine his body turned purple by blood clots, and speckled with cigarette burns and candle drippings. Imagine how this could have happened when Horacio said he would be with trusted “brothers.”
Police say Horacio was found wrapped in a blanket, on a pavement in Balut, Tondo, on Sunday morning. Police say a passerby found Horacio, and brought him to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. Conclusions on his death are too still early to announce, they say.
But for Horacio’s parents, there is only one truth in this case: their only son is dead, and his fraternity brothers killed him.
The hero in Horacio
At 22, Horacio was certain he would become one of the leaders of the country – a leader for the people. With national hero Jose Rizal and General Miguel Malvar in his family tree, his passion for public service was innate. He dreamed of becoming a Supreme Court lawyer, or perhaps even a senator. He made this vow to his father.
“Just wait and see, Dad. I will make you proud,” Horacio told his namesake.
In college, he served for 3 years as an officer of the Political Science Forum of the University of Santo Tomas. A batchmate and close friend said Horacio served as much as he could, “even if it meant losing time for himself.”
His charm gained him friends from perhaps every college in the university. Even his professors treated him like a son.
Every day, before going to class, he visited the university chapel for a short prayer. He was so religious that his father even joked he might become a priest.
“Mukhang magpapari ang anak natin ha (It looks like our son would become a priest),” Horacio Castillo Jr told his wife, Carmina. But they didn’t mind as long as Atyo was raised right.
Unlike most boys, Horacio didn’t hold back and kept his affection unspoken. He was generous with “I love yous,” especially to his parents. Whenever he had a problem, he would ask his dad for advice, and then give him a big hug.
“It’s lucky to have a son like that,” Horacio Jr said. “I was very lucky.”
The value of justice
The week before Horacio was found dead, the law student told his parents he would join the Aegis Juris fraternity in the university.
Aegis Juris, which literally means “Shield of Justice,” was described as “the most dynamic and active law fraternity” in UST. It is grounded on 5 principles: academic excellence, equality, godliness, integrity, and service.
As one of the oldest law fraternities in the university, Aegis Juris is said to have produced the largest number of lawyers within the UST Faculty of Civil Law.
Horacio assured his parents of fraternity’s integrity, and cited Civil Law dean Nilo Divina as one of its members. “They don’t do hazing, Dad,” he assured his father after he told him not to join the group.
The instincts of Horacio Jr proved to be correct, as his son has become the latest victim of fraternity hazing.
What was promised to his son as benefits, turned out to be bruises. What were introduced to him as brothers, were apparently butchers, according to the bereaved father.
“They just saw him as a piece of meat that they slaughtered and butchered,” Horacio Jr said.
“He was meant for a bigger life than being killed, but now he is gone… How can I move on?”
The members of Aegis Juris are currently banned from entering the UST, pending the investigation of Horacio’s death. The police has not identified suspects in the student’s death, but the family has begun looking into the frat members who recruited Atyo.
Horacio Jr believes his son will not rest in peace until he is given justice.
“My son is lost,” he said. “That’s his body but I don’t know where he is. I want justice for my son.”
“That’s a very valuable word. Justice,” he added. – Rappler.com