Ateneo de Manila University has dismissed its junior high school student Joaquin Montes who is seen in a viral video bullying another student in the restroom of the school. The parents of the victim have broken their silence after keeping mum to protect their son.
In the video, Montes asks the victim to choose between bugbog (assault) and dignidad (dignity). The teenage bully, who is a taekwondo practitioner, explains that the former literally means physical assault while the latter means kissing the perpetrator’s shoes and private part.
The victim chooses dignidad and what ensues is a violent assault from the teenage taekwondo practitioner. The video ends with the victim in pain while his nose is bleeding.
In a statement obtained by GMA News on December 24, 2018, the parents of the victim emphasized that their son is not a loser. Here is the full transcript:
People had questioned our decision to stay silent amidst all the outrage over the viral video of our son being beaten up inside one of the comfort rooms of the Ateneo Junior High School premises. Believe us, as parents, keeping quiet in these trying times was the most difficult thing to do, but a decision we had to make in order to protect our minor son.
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 fight fire with fire, upholding instead his virtues of what is right from wrong. 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.
No parent would like to see his or her son beaten and punched by anyone, for no apparent reason. We now realized that any child can be a victim of bullying. Our son was asked by the bully to make a choice. From the bully’s own words, “Ano ang gusto mo dignidad o bugbog?, — but in the bully’s definition, choosing “dignidad” was a far more degrading option, one that would subject out son to inhumane treatment and abuse. 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.
We would rather that the public does not know his name, as our son does not deserve to be memorialized as the “bullied boy from Ateneo.” He is much more than the poor and hapless boy you see in that 2-minute video, which is now etched in the public’s mind. Our son, like your sons, is simple, God-fearing and studies very hard. He just wants to study, have good grades, and then graduate. He has big hopes and dreams. He did not do anything to deserve this kind of treatment from his classmates. But, despite what happened, we will not let this incident damage our son- he will heal from this, and we will ensure that he will grow up with his morality and values intact.
Our family would like to thank everyone who showed their love and support for our son, and the doctors who gave immediate medical attention to him. You gave us the strength and courage to stand for what is right and just.
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. Our family has gone through a lot this past week, but we never lost hope. With this I say to all the children who had been bullied, and to all the parents whose child had peed pushed against the way, “never give up!” Let your voices be heard. Let us not give up the very essence of our being. Our dignity. God bless us all.