So, there's this new motoring society called Corolla Owners Club, established just last February 17. If you go to the organization's closed group page, you will read about its motto (in italics):
In COC, we don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate any people who do. We promote transparency and democracy for the welfare of members and for the common good. We believe in the fatherhood of God and the fraternity of man...a fraternity of man who drives Corolla.
Note the emphasis on the word "fraternity," as this club reportedly mimics the activities of a typical fraternity--including hazing for the initiation rites, according to a few concerned members who requested not to be named for fear of the group's retaliation. In fact, our main source even had to create a new Facebook account just to shield his identity while feeding us information.
Already circulating on various Facebook pages now are photos of the "car club" conducting hazing with a paddle (see photos below). "Isn't this illegal according to the Anti-Hazing Law (Republic Act 8049)?" asked our source.
Well, to our knowledge, hazing per se isn't illegal. It is merely regulated. In fact, student fraternities may still conduct the practice as long as they give advance notification to the school administration, and at least two representatives of said school administration are present during the initiation rites. Of course the law becomes even more toothless when the people involved are adults--as in the case of the Corolla Owners Club members. From where we sit, if an adult is stupid enough to allow somebody to hurt him on the pretext of "brotherhood," he probably deserves what's coming to him.
And in the spirit of fairness, we contacted an officer of the group, Stedneil King, whose position within the club is "Lord Templar BOD." Yes, that's an actual designation in this group. The top leader, Genesis Dodie Mabana, is called "Lord Chancellor." At this point, we really can't tell if these men are serious or are merely messing with everyone. Their battle cry? "Only the brave ones survive!"
"No, we don't practice hazing, but yes, there is an initiation," King told TopGear.com.ph. "Those are not the same. Our strike is not mandatory. Many members are with us even without having gone through the initiation. We came from different fraternities, majority from UP. And so it become our norm. With regard to the details of the initiation, we only require that new members attend our meet-ups three times, and then accomplish the application form without any fees. That paddle strike is a symbolism of our acceptance. It's not the same as what others think. Have you ever seen someone smiling while being whipped?"
So why the complaints now from members?
"We don't owe anyone an explanation," King declared. "We don't just go out there and hurt anyone. Even a baby can handle it. It's just a soft touch. We don't disclose it in public--that it's just soft--because we want them to think it's hard, giving them the impression that it's painful to join. It's more like a ploy."
This is turning out to be really funny. What about the photo of guns supposedly brought by members to gatherings?
"Those guns are licensed, and they're not part of the meeting," King explained. "It's an act of the members--without our command or permission. They are members but we didn't ask them to bring, carry or show guns. Those two rifles are Airsoft guns. You can also see the meeting proper, and the table is clear--no guns whatsoever. Only food and drinks. No alcohol even. After we end the meeting, we are no longer in total control of whatever a member does."
There you have it. Either these men are just denying everything, or they're really fond of slapstick humor. Neither one is flattering. What do you think?
UPDATE: The group's "Lord Chancellor," Genesis Dodie Mabana, has added that the club held some "charity work" on the night of the "final ritual," and that those who underwent this ritual were accompanied by their loved ones "to ensure the safety of the new members."