NANAY SAYS: Light for Christine Lee
My children came home yesterday from school bearing bad news.
Antoinette, 5, said she learned about it from her classmate.
She reported: “Naay namatay nga girl, Nanay. Wala na dila and things inside her body, gikaon sa ungo. Bad kaayo.”
(A girl died, Mommy. She has no more tongue and things inside her body were eaten by a monster. It was horrible.)
My daughter was talking about Christine Lee Silawan, 16, who was brutally murdered by still unknown individuals. She sustained 20 stab wounds and her mutilated body was found in a lot in Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City on Monday, March 11, 2019. A CDN report says she was half naked with most of her face skinned to the bone, her neck sliced open and her tongue and other internal parts were missing.
Picturing this sends chill up my spine. What animal would do this to a girl? What creature would savagely, mercilessly murder a young lady, a volunteer tithe collector, who dreamed of becoming a flight stewardess? What monster will take her life away when she was only a few days shy from celebrating her 17th birthday?
I can only cry with her mother, Lourdes, who describes her daughter as quiet and obedient. Nobody, not even the most notorious criminal locked up in prison, deserves this kind of death. And yet, in Cebu, we have this kind of murder in our midst.
The last time I read about this type of murder was from a book entitled “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” a mystery novel written by Filipino writer, F.H. Batacan. It tells the story of two Catholic priests who were trying to figure out the identity of the serial killer, who left eviscerated bodies of pre-teen boys in dump heaps.
The first few pages of the books introduced the reader to Gus Saenz and Jerome Lucero, Jesuit priests, who also perform forensic work. As they were examining the lifeless body of one child, between the ages of 12 and 13, on the metal table, they found out that his heart was missing and the face was peeled off. The child was knocked out of consciousness from a heavy blow to the head, coming from the right. His face was flayed with a “clean horizontal slit under the chin from ear to ear.”
Now, picture that.
Social media is abuzz with theories of people saying that Christine’s death may be the work of a cult. One commenter wrote: “Cults are active in the Philippines, it’s just that they are not as noisy as the LGBTQ community or as controversial as the flat-earthers.”
I do not know what to make of this except to write that I am outraged that a death like Christine’s happened in Cebu. I am sure that I am not the only mother who is concerned about her children’s safety after this incident. My mother’s side of the family lives in Lapu-Lapu City, the same city where Christine’s body was found, and I am hearing narratives from cousins and relatives that when night time comes, everyone just gathers their children inside the house, lock their doors, and pray for safety.
As of this writing, police have denied that a certain Jonas Buenos is the primary suspect behind Christine’s murder, saying he is, however, a “person of interest.”
Meanwhile, Lourdes continues to weep at Christine’s wake as the bounty for information that will lead to the arrest of her daughter’s perpetrators has reached P2 million as of March 14, 2019.
“I’m scared about the monster,” Antoinette said, her face concerned, her arms hugging herself. My daughter went on to remind me that I should be home early at night, to always bring pepper spray, and to never talk to strangers.
“And pray… pray Nanay. The monsters are afraid of light. Prayers bring light,” she said, as I stood there staring at her with mouth agape, wondering how she can process this difficult event with a hopeful lens.
I hope the same light will catch the monsters who did this to Christine. I hope that light will drag them out of whatever cave they are hiding and confess. Christine and her family deserve the justice.
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