Christine Lee Silawan’s shattered dreams: ‘She wanted to become a flight stewardess’
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu— Christine Lee Silawan was a quiet, obedient 16-year-old girl who did not ask for much.
When practically almost everyone her age has a cellular phone, she was content sharing one with her two younger siblings.
Because she was such an uncomplaining daughter who understood that theirs was a family of want and that her parents did everything they could to raise her and her siblings in an upright manner despite their poverty, her mother Lourdes wanted to give her a gift on her 17th birthday on March 26: Her first smartphone.
Lourdes said the phone would have been her surprise present to her daughter, whom she described as an obedient girl who “liked to work hard in silence.”
Sadly, Lourdes wouldn’t be able to give her gift to Christine Lee.
Christine’s life, barely two weeks before she turned seventeen, was cut short by a crime so brutal and so heinous that it left not just Cebu but the whole nation outraged. So outraged that the reward offered for information leading to the arrest of her murderers has now risen to P2 million.
The teenager’s mutilated body was found in a lot in Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City on Monday, March 11, 2019. She was half naked, most of her face skinned to the bone, her neck sliced open and her tongue and other internal parts missing.
The 47-year-old mother still could not believe that Christine’s goodbye on Sunday, March 10, as she was going to serve as a tithe collector in the 4 p.m. Mass at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City was going to be her last.
According to Lourdes, there is nothing negative that she can speak of her daughter, who was a Grade 9 student of the Maribago National High School in Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City.
“Hilumon gyud na siya unya duko gyud sa trabaho kay siya ra akong katimbang diri sa balay. Dili laagan. Balay-eskwehan-simbahan ra gyud na iyang adtuon (She was quiet, would do house chores without complain and the one who helped me around the house. She was a homebody. House-school-church; that was her routine),”Lourdes told CDN Digital.
“Kung unsa akong isulti, ug unsay i-dili matuman nga walay supak. Kung unsa akong isugo wala gyud koy problema, walay supak (She had never disobeyed me. She would do whatever I asked her to do. No complaint),” Lourdes added.
When Christine decided to join the Collectors’ Ministry of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Barangay Pajac last November 2018, Lourdes said her daughter had even asked her permission as she did not want to do it without her mother’s consent.
Despite not having much in life as she has no permanent job, Lourdes said she wanted her children to have a good education.
“Bahalag pobre ko, bahalag lisod ko basta ka makapa-edukar lang ko sa akong mga anak nga unta makakuha og grado o kurso nga ilang gusto (Even if we are poor, no matter how difficult, I only want to give education to my children and for them to pursue the courses they desire),” Lourdes said.
Christine was the second of four siblings. Lourdes’ eldest child, Lousiline, 21, is a secondary school teacher in Talisay City. Christine has a brother who turned 16 years old last Tuesday, March 12, a day after the mutilated body of his sister was found; and another sister, aged 13.
Being tall and having a lean posture and a lovely face, Christine, Lourdes said, dreamt of becoming a “flight stewardess.”
“Ingon pa ko, ‘sus Inday kanindot unta kung imong makab-ot ang imong pangandoy aron makatabang pod ka sa atong kalisod (I told her, oh Inday, it will be wonderful if you can reach your dream and at the same time help us deal with our hardship),” Lourdes said.
(Inday is a Cebuano term of endearment for a female, especially a young family member or a friend.)
“Sayang lang kay gikuhaan siya sa maayong kaugmaon. Gikutlo ang iyang kinabuhi nga walay tukma nga hinungdan (It’s very sad that she was deprived of a bright future. Her life was cut short in such a senseless manner),” she added.
She was very secretive. If there were things she wanted in life, aside from her dream of becoming a flight attendant, she kept them to herself.
This was how Lousiline described her sister Christine.
According to Lousiline, they used to spend time playing teachers. Lousiline, herself, even realized her role and is now teaching in a private high school in Talisay City.
“Close me in a way nga magkinataw-anay during manan-aw og TV, but dili gyud na siya tigsulti namo. Secretive gyud siya,” Lousiline said.
Lousiline added that her sister rarely brought her friends with her in their house.
“Makita man gud nimo daan sa iyang aura nga dili kaayo siya tigtabi, hilumon. Mao na nga pili ra gyud iyang friends katong makakuha ra gyud sa iyang trust, ” she added.
(You can see in her aura that she was not talkative. She was a quiet one. That was why there were only very few of her friends who earned her trust.)
Instead of going out to meet with friends, Lousiline said her sister often made random scribbles on books and spare notebooks on days that she had no chores to do.
“Random scribbles ra na iyang buhaton. Dili ingon nga puros poem or stories but magsuwat-suwat ra gyud na siya,” Lousiline said.
With the initial findings of the police that the main suspect in Christine’s gruesome death was a man she had an exchange of conversations with, Lousiline said that perhaps her sister has trusted the wrong person.
Lousiline said she was able to access the Facebook account of her sister since Christine used her mobile number as the backup contact, which can be used in retrieving accounts without the old password. Lousiline said they already submitted the account to the police for investigation.
A birthday wish
Lourdes’ and Christine’s birthdays are just three days apart. Lourdes will turn 48 this March 23.
According to Lourdes, Christine was not the kind who would ask for presents or food during their shared birthday celebration.
“Wa man gyud ni siya mangayo og unsa. Siya nisabot ug nahibawo og unsa ang among kalisod. Modawat ra gyud na siya kung unsa akong mahimo isip inahan nila ug unsa akong kaya mapakaon nila,” Lourdes said.
(She never asked for anything. She knew how poor we were. She would accept whatever we could provide and ate whatever food I could afford to prepare.)
With Christine’s death still unsolved and her murderers still scot free, Lourdes said her only birthday wish for her daughter now is for Christine to get justice.
“Bisan birthday gift na lang unta niya ang pagkasikop sa suspect. Bisan kana lang. Mahibaw-an an unta makab-ot na unta ang hustisya (I wish it will be given as a birthday gift to her that the suspects will be caught. That’s all I want. Let the truth come out and bring to justice [those who killed her]),” Lourdes said while trying to hold back her sobs in front of her daughter’s coffin.
“Ako nga inahan makadawat ra unta ko kung nasakit nga ordinary. Ang di nako madawat sa nahitabo karon, brutal nga kamatayon (I as a mother could accept this if she died a natural death. Not this way. What I cannot accept is her brutal death),” Lourdes said.
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