Darwin Dormitorio (Photo from his Facebook account)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Not known to be a quitter and a crybaby, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) plebe Darwin Dormitorio just bore the physical pain inflicted on him, as his last letter to his family indicated, a close relative said.
“Darwin is not a quitter, he’s very strong. He is the kind of person who stands for what he believed in,” said Michelle Usman, one of Dormitorio’s aunts.
The question that bugged Dormitorio’s family upon learning that he died of injuries from hazing was why he did not give up and leave the academy when he could.
“Why did he not quit? Because he really wanted to be a soldier, and he knows it was part of the training. That’s what he believed,” Usman said. “He did not tell his parents what he went through.”
In a letter he wrote on yellow pad paper, the 20-year-old Darwin, the youngest in a brood of three, only told his parents he was confined at the PMA hospital and they could visit him.
“I am OK,” he assured them. He also assured his parents that he had adjusted to life in the PMA, the country’s premier military school.
In the letter, Darwin said he asked fellow cadets who visited him to send the message to his parents, hoping it would reach them.
He told his father and mother he missed them, joking that he especially missed Brando, the family’s pet Doberman.
He also told his parents: “If Ate or Kuya visits, please bring me money and pizza and doughnut.”
The letter showed no hint of what he had gone through that would later lead to his death.
The letter was probably written in the third week of August or earlier, as Darwin mentioned he could be out of the hospital sometime Aug. 26 or later.
Interviewed over CNN Philippines, Darwin’s older brother Dexter said he visited his brother at the PMA hospital on Aug. 25, prompted by that letter.
But underneath the strength, Dormitorio was described as a nice guy, well-loved by his family and relatives.
“Darwin is such an adorable guy. You could say he is an ideal son. And I think it happened to him because he did not fight back, because we did not raise our children to be violent,” Usman said.
Usman recalled how proud they were when Dormitorio announced in the family’s online chat group that he was going to the academy.
“When he decided to enter the PMA, he was full of dreams, to be one of our leaders. That was his objective in going there,” Usman said.
“We, his family, came to support him because his objective was clear, and that is to serve the country. He did not do it because someone forced him to,” Usman added.
Darwin was the son of retired Army Col. William Dormitorio of PMA Marangal Class of 1974.
“Kuya William is really a straight soldier. He does not approve of corruption. We have a huge respect for him. That’s why Dardar [Darwin] was also motivated to do the same,” Usman said. “Our family was devastated because they killed a potential leader of the country.”
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