Aug. 12, 2008

for tara

Something has to be said about Tara Santelices, who is currently fighting for her life in Medical Cityís ICU after being shot in the head in a hold-up incident in Cainta, Rizal on Wednesday. She was with a friend around past midnight onboard a jeep to Marikina when a man announced a hold-up. He put a bullet through her head; the kind that doesnít have any exit wounds, the kind that fragments inside. That day was also, incidentally, her birthday.

I heard about it through my girlfriend on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, during the incident, Tara was with Joee, whose sister Laura was a friend of ours. She also forwarded an online newsbrief from GMAnews, one that was written by another friend, Jam. I tried looking for it in our own paper, but it looks like we didnít carry the news item. Maybe it was just a small item in some police blotter; these days, youíve got to prioritize. I somewhat understand this about newspapers, but it doesnít make me any less brokenhearted.

Good thing, blogging and online networking has somehow made it easier for people without access to mainstream media to disseminate information in other even more effective avenues of communication. Itís on Multiply, Facebook, Friendster, Twitter. Last night I even caught Laura and Joee on RockEdís slot on radio at NU.

Tara was a band member of Saffron Speedway; Laura is the bandís vocalist. Iíve been to a few of their gigs; in fact, I think it was in one of their gigs last year that I met Joee AND Tara. I remember that was in Mag:Net Katipunan, and I was introduced to them briefly.

That night I never even entertained the possibility that one day a year later, one of them brilliant band people would be lying in an ICU of an expensive hospital.

On last nightís NU show, they talked about the details. Like how, for example, passengers on the same jeep did not even help; they even stopped the jeep along the way to alight from it, further delaying medical assistance for Tara. I could not understand how anyone could do that, really. How could they sleep at night, thinking they had just ignored some girl after she was fatally shot? How could they look at their mothers, wives, daughters after that?

The fact is, in a place of proper and effective governance, things like this shouldnít even happen. But as findings of an SWS survey conducted in March showed, during the six months prior to the survey, about one in every 10 families nationwide has been victimized by any kind crime. Of this number, around one in every fifty families have had a member of their families hurt by physical violence.

Every time I write such a story, I see these figures and become appalled. Now, if I ever have to write another crime victimization write-up, Iíll always remember Tara and think about how crime is always around, and now, even nearer than before, to me and the people I love.

How do we not live in fear?

I think itís grossly unfair that crimes like this have to happen and spread fear and paranoia. Times are hard and most people I know travel by commute, and these days I canít help but worry. I canít even wrap my head around the fact that such sophisticated weapons are accessible to people outside the police force and military.

But if you think crime is frightening, I think the prevalence of apathy is the scariest of all. How can we not live in fear knowing that people will just stand idly by as silent uncaring witnesses? Moreover, it begs the question we should ask ourselves: Will we let ourselves be silent uncaring witnesses when the situation calls for us to step up?

Right now, Laura is spearheading a series of gigs for Tara. On radio she said she was not so much looking to raise a lot of money (which I think was also part of the plan, to help the family somewhat defray hospital bills), but rather on lifting spirits. I think the schedule is on their multiply site and thereís a gig every day this week, from what I remember. Maybe we should get together.