26 August 2008

The Case of Tara Santelices

Tara in one of her moments.
I saw an email about Tara Santelices a few weeks ago and did not put much attention to it thinking that it might be one of those spam mails asking someone for help. However, after I read the petition made based on her story, I started to read the related articles and posts and read it again until I decided that I should do my part and blog about it.

This is a story of what happened to Tara on the eve of her 23rd birthday (06 August 2008) when she tried to resist the holdupper who was trying to take her laptop inside a jeepney along Imelda Avenue, Cainta, Rizal. It was a very powerful story and should be used as a lesson to our lawmakers here in the Philippines to do what needs to be done to address the growing crime against person and property.

Hopefully, this story of Tara will open the eyes of Filipinos and strengthen the petition to implement the much-needed reforms in the system. It should also allow bloggers to help spread this story to email contacts or by passing the URL of this post to others.

The Story

Tara Santelices, 23 years old graduate of the Ateneo de Manila was with a friend, Joee Mejias, inside a passenger jeepney along Felix Ave. Cainta, Rizal on their way home past midnight (06 August 2008, about 12:30 AM) on the eve of her 23rd birthday.

Somewhere along a dark stretch of Felix Ave. near Karangalan Village, a man posing as a passenger, pulled a gun and announced a hold-up. The man instantly grabbed Tara's bag containing her laptop. Instinctively, Tara held on to her bag and in the ensuing struggle, the man shot Tara and hit her on the left side of her forehead. After getting the bag of the others, the man jumped off the passenger jeepney.

Joee, who has never been in that situation before asked for help from the other passengers, and told the driver to bring them to the nearest hospital, as blood was already spurting out of Tara's head. They rushed her to Amang Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Marikina City. The parents of Tara and Joee arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter. When morning came, Tara’s parents finally decided to transfer her to the Medical City, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City.

Since 8:00 A.M. of 6 August, Tara has been in the ICU fighting for her dear life. Her parents have decided not to push through with the delicate operation.

Efforts of Tara's Friends

Although it might seem that there is nothing else that we can do but wait for Tara to wake up from this horrific nightmare, some of Tara's friends decided to raise funds for her hospital bills. They felt that this is the least that they can do to ease the unbearable pain her family is going through. They were given the go-signal by Tara’s dad, Tito Larry, to solicit some assistance and here are the details:

The temporary bank account is under Anne Marie F. Santelices, Banco de Oro, SA 2140-062201. For direct cash donations, please proceed to the ICU Waiting Room of the Medical City (Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City). Please look for Joee Mejias or Lila Santelices.

Any amount will be gratefully accepted. Anonymous donations are also welcome. Please spread the word. Forward this to your family, friends and even to everyone else you know. Please post this on Friendster, Multiply, Facebook and wherever else you can think of. Please send group messages on Yahoo Messenger. This will mean so much to her friends and family.

Please continue praying for Tara, for Joee and for both of their families. If you want to come see Tara, visiting hours at the ICU are at 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

For inquiries, please contact Joee Mejias (09228154987) for calls and Jac Ledonio (09167243071) or Myka Francisco (09163695148) for text messages.

More to this than Meets the Eye

One thing that was overlooked by many in the case of Tara is that there were not enough passengers who really took their time to try and care for her after she was shot. Joee was pleading to the driver of the jeepney to drive speedily to the nearest medical facility. But instead of heeding his call, the driver drove as if it was one of his regular trips, even stopping three times to unload a passenger. Of the five or six other passengers, only one bothered to help Joee carry her. The rest just went about their business as if nothing serious happened. In fact some of the passengers even opted to stop the vehicle for them to get off, wasting precious time for medical attention.

After they arrived at Amang Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, the driver immediately drove-off, without waiting for the possibility that they may need his services to transfer tara to a much better equipped hospital. Tara was given the appropriate medical attention only about four hours later at Medical City.

What is surprising is that the police went to the hospital to talk to the witness (Joee) a day after the incident.

It is the height of apathy and indifference that our fellow kababayans showed no concern about each other specially in such emergency situation as that involving Tara. It is revolting to know that transport drivers whom our lives and safety are actually under their responsibility as paying passengers, do not know what to do or even try to avoid responsibility under such situations. It is also contemptible that the police had to act so late and only after follow-ups by friends were made with higher authorities.

Hence, to prevent anything like this from happening again, a group of Tara's friends are asking the public to sign the petition here and join the effort to combat our own apathy, and to exact responsibility from those who took an oath to serve us.

Who is Tara?

According to the multiply site of Chito, a friend of Tara's father, she was gifted with the talent on the guitars. She was the guitarist for an all-female band called Saffron and Storm. She did base as well as lead guitar. They made the rounds in some of the clubs along Kalayaan Avenue near Ateneo de Manila campus and even had gigs in Malate, Manila. As a product of the internet generation, Tara also dabbled in other electronic sounds using computers and other such technology-enabled musical instruments. She was very much like her father who also had a very keen sense for sounds.

Her choice of sounds, just like her father, also reflected the times, e.g., techno-music, or what is currently called goth rock which traces its roots to the punk rock era. And like her father, she was totally devoted to it. But this was one side of Tara's personality. One with whom only her friends were quite familiar with.

The other side of Tara's personality, one that her father and Chito were familiar with, was that of a shy but sensitive young lady, schooled in an exclusive-for-girls high school run by the Assumption Sisters in Antipolo. In college, she was admitted to the Ateneo de Manila and performed quite well in her class. She knew that her parents were very hardworking parents and returned the favor by being a hardworking student as well. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in Political Science.

If you want get a glimpse of how Tara lived her life, you may visit her multiply site here.

Her friends also wrote several article about her and the incident in their blogs and various networking sites. Among them are:

Here's To Life!
Barya Lang Po Sa Umaga