Photograph from Raw Pixel
Culture Spotlight

Bugbog o dignidad? And the questions we need to ask ourselves

The Ateneo bully gave his poor schoolmate two choices; the video that captured it raised a storm of questions.
Ricky Carandang | Dec 22 2018

As Metro Manilans went about their preparations for the long holiday break Thursday,  the Christmas mood was briefly interrupted as a two minute video went viral on Viber, Whatsapp and Telegram chat groups.

In the video, a diminutive teenager is in the boys’ bathroom of what appears to be the Ateneo High School. There are three boys in the scene, side by side urinals doing their business when the short kid, clearly aware of the video being taken,  accosts the boy in the middle urinal and threateningly gives him a choice: “Bugbog o dignidad?”

Sensing trouble, the two other boys quickly clear out of the bathroom while the little bully does a countdown.

“Five …four…three…two…one… bugbog!”

Bully Boy explains to his friend taking the video, “Kasi kung pinili niya dignidad, papaluhodin ko siya, tapos hahalikan niya ang pareho kong sapatos, tapos papahalik ko yung bayag ko.  Pero kung gusto niyang bugbog, lets go!”

The other kid, who has since zipped up, is standing in the middle of the bathroom when Bully Boy punches him in the face. The kid falls back and Bully Boy proceeds to kick him twice in quick succession. The kid raises his leg, trying to parry the kicks but to no avail.  

Another kick.

A punch to the solar plexus, followed by two more to the body.

The kid steps back looking for room to maneuver. He puts up his fists and takes a boxing stance.  He looks ready to finally fight back but Bully Boy is quick. He gets past the kid with another kick to the body and the kid falls back, his guard down. Bully Boy comes in for the kill with a sharp punch straight to the face. The kid reels, blood starting to drip from his nose—but Bully Boy isn’t finished. Three more hard taekwondo kicks and the kid is splayed against the bathroom wall.

Finally the assault ends and Bully Boy swaggers away outside the video’s range. His victim, wobbly but still standing, his nose dripping blood, his eyes swollen with tears.  Two other kids, who were watching the assault, meekly point the wounded kid to the exit and scrurry out of the bathroom.

The video ends.

There are at least two more videos in this series. One appears to be in the Ateneo cafeteria, where another boy is kneeling in front of Bully Boy and is forced to call himself stupid (apparently he chose to surrender his dignity rather than a endure a beating). Another video shows Bully Boy in what appears to be a garden, fighting with another student, who in this case is able to get a few punches in.

The next day, another video made the rounds. One boy, who appears to be bigger than Bully Boy, is apparently being held down by two other boys in the parking lot of an establishment in front of a busy street. There’s shouting, there’s cursing, and there’s a voice off camera that asks who was being  held down. Someone else off cam identifies the boy being held down. Supposedly, he’s  the older brother of Bully Boy. Eventually they  all get up and continue arguing heatedly, while another boy appears to be trying to mediate.

By evening,  the videos had gone viral and even made it to the prime time news programs. Ateneo de Manila, where the incident occurred, was quick to release a statement.  University president  Jett Villarin assured the public that the University has given this incident its “highest priority and urgency.” Jose P. Salvador, principal of the Junior High School reported that an investigation was underway and expressed concern that the indiscriminate sharing of the video has “provoked reactions that do little to help the school in dealing appropriately with the incident.”

I trust that dealing appropriately means some form of harsh punishment.  But dealing appropriately should go beyond just punishing.

Bugbog o dignidad? It’s a very stark choice given to Bully Boy’s victims. Agree to humiliate yourself in public or get your ass handed to you by some midget sized kid with a black belt in taekwando. It’s actually a trick question. You can willingly surrender your dignity or you can have it taken from you at great physical cost. Either way, there’s some part of your dignity that he takes from you, and at that age, an experience like that will leave emotional scars that those victims will carry with them well into adulthood.

Given that, you can’t help but wonder what emotional scars were inflicted on Bully Boy when he was growing up. Look at his face in the video as he was torturing that poor kid in the bathroom. No glee nor amusement. There is only determined rage. Rage like that comes from something deep and painful.

Bugbog o dignidad? That’s the choice he gave his schoolmates. Was that the choice he himself has been forced to endure? Is he passing on his own pain and humiliation? What kind of terrible parenting enabled this?

Someone should find some answers and look for a way to temper his rage. God forbid he grows up with all these unresolved issues and becomes president.