Bullied Atenean 'chose true sense of dignity' – parents

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo student bullied in a viral video "chose his true sense of dignity" in the face of bullying, and "is not a loser" to be pitied, said his parents who broke their silence. 

The parents said they prefer to conceal the student's name from the public, because he "does not deserve to be memorialized as the 'bullied boy from Ateneo.'" 

"Our son was asked by the bully to make a choice. From the bully's own words, 'Ano ang gusto mo, dignidad o bugbog?' (What do you prefer, dignity or beating?) – but in the bully's definition, choosing 'dignidad' was a far more degrading option, one that would subject our son to inhumane treatment and abuse," the student's mother and father said.

"Thus, our son chose his true sense of dignity – choosing instead to be subjected to physical assault rather than surrender his self-respect. And that is what we are fighting for. Our dignity," said the parents in a statement reported by GMA News Online on Monday, December 24.

The bullying incident fueled a nationwide debate about bullying in schools, caught the attention of no less than the Office of the President, and prompted the Ateneo de Manila University to dismiss the student caught bullying.  

"Our son, without his doing, became the poster child for a bullied boy. But rather than remembering him as a victim, we would want you to see him as a young man of good moral foundation. How in the face of violence, he did not fire with fire, upholding instead his virtues of what is right from wrong," his parents said.

"We want you to see that he is not a loser and that he does not deserve to be pitied; rather, he should be exalted for his sense of dignity and justice beyond his years," they added.

To bullies, the victim's mother and father said, "Let every bully know that you may crush every single bone in his body, but you can never, no matter how frustrating you try, take away his dignity." 

"Let every bully know that there is justice, and that crimes against the innocent will not prosper. Let every bully know that there is a God who favors the humble and the weak," they said. 

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, an alumnus of Ateneo, hailed the victim's parents for issuing this statement. "I have nothing but respect and admiration for parents of this sort," David said in a Facebook post Monday. Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.