CEBU CITY, Philippines — At the age of 24, Pegeen Maisie Sararaña, a native of Barangay Tuyom in Carcar City, Cebu, has worn many hats that made her win the admiration and respect of the people around her.
Pegeen was a promising and determined journalist for CDN Digital who was covering the police beat.
She lent flesh and blood to the cliche “small but terrible” in a more pleasant way.
Aside from being a dedicated news reporter, Pegeen is also known as a kind-hearted, soft-spoken friend and colleague.
Indeed, she was many things to many people. But perhaps the greatest role that she played was being a supportive sister and daughter.
That was why the news of her untimely demise on the evening of March 13, 2023, brought shock and sorrow to many.
READ: Pegeen Sararaña, a budding journo from Cebu, 24
Pegeen, who would have turned 25 this October 25, succumbed to head injuries that she sustained after the motorcycle that she rode figured in a tragic road accident in San Jose town in Negros Oriental at past 3 p.m. on March 12.
She was on her way back to Cebu after a week-long coverage of the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others when she and her boyfriend figured in the road accident.
Pegeen, also called Pem, Peme, Pege, and Gen, to those closest to her, had many plans and goals for her family and herself. But, maybe, just like the message on her “Jeremiah 29:11” necklace, the Lord had better plans for her.
A thoughtful, understanding friend
CDN Digital talked to some of Pegeen’s close friends, workmates, and family members as they recalled their fondest memories of her.
Decemay Padilla, of DySS radio who also covers the police beat, described Pegeen as a sweet and understanding friend and co-worker.
“Akong tawag niya kay ‘Inday,’ which mao gyud akong tawag sa mga manghod nako. Sweet, understanding ug buotan gyud kaayo si Pegeen. Naay times nga malain siya pero maulian ra sab dayon. And honestly, dako og na help si Pegeen in making my life easier,” she told CDN Digital.
(I call her ‘Inday,’ which is what I call those younger than me. She’s sweet, understanding, and kind. There are times she’d be mad at me but not for long. And honestly, Pegeen helped a lot in making my life easier.)
“Ma miss nako ang morning messages niya nga ‘Miss, good morning! Unsay i follow up nato?’ ug uban pa. Lisod dawaton pero at least, wala nag antos og dugay si Pegeen,” she added.
(I will miss her morning messages like ‘Miss, good morning! What story will we follow up?’ and others. It’s hard to accept but at least, Pegeen didn’t suffer for long.)
Iris Hazel Mascardo, one of her closest friends and former workmate, recalled Pegeen’s sweet gesture for her on her 22nd birthday.
“She brought a cake with her na iya pa gipa-bake sa iyang ate. Naa sya’y dala’ng balloons na 22. And suddenly, living isn’t so lonely anymore. Bag-o pa gani mi nagkaila ato, but her attention to my pain is incomparable. Her thoughtfulness is her I.D,” she said.
(She brought a cake with her that she had her elder sister bake. She brought the balloons formed number 22. And suddenly, living isn’t so lonely anymore. Although we’d just known each other at that time, her attention to my pain is incomparable. Her thoughtfulness is her I.D.)
“That was just the beginning of her number of surprises for me just to make me feel that she was there for me. Always,” she added.
Aside from having the same field of work, and the same group of friends, they also shared the same boarding house in the city. At some point, both almost shared the same routine.
“Pegeen will always be the girl I would love to sit in silence with. She’s that silence you’ll look for. Comforting,” Iris added.
Marjory Enriquez, another former workmate of Pegeen, thanked her for the genuine friendship they shared.
“[To Pegeen’s family], I’m here for you like your ‘Pem’ was there for me and like how you’ve welcomed me into your home,” she said.
A ‘family-first’ daughter
Pegeen’s father, Rogelio Jr., proudly recalls how Pegeen, the third of his four children, would always share her blessings with their family.
He was ecstatic when one day, Pegeen won a 55-inch smart TV from a raffle at a party.
“Hilumon si Pegeen. Inig abot niya sa balay gikan trabaho, bisan dili pa na siya makahubo sa iyang sapatos mo amen jud na namo unya modirecho na siya sa kwarto. Si Pegeen magsend na siya og photo or update kung aha siya,” he added.
(Pegeen is the silent type. Whenever she would arrive home, she would always look for me and her mama to kiss our hand then she’d go straight to her room. Pegeen also always sends photos or updates wherever she goes.)
Pegeen’s elder twin sisters, Claire and Grace, recalled how Pegeen saved money so she could treat them to an out-of-town trip to Siquijor.
“Our first-ever family trip to Siquijor. Our family ‘kainan’ every time someone celebrated their birthday. Ikaw g’yod ang magplano ani Ate Pem always,” Grace said in a social media post. (It was always you who planned this Ate Pem.)
“You will always be my manghod na super buotan super sweet and super lambing. We love you big time. Thank you so much for all the sacrifices you’ve made for our family. Always and forever ka diri sa akong dughan,” she added.
(You will always be my younger sister who is super kind, super sweet, and super affectionate. We love you big time. Thank you so much for all the sacrifices you’ve made for our family. You will always and forever be in my heart.)
Niel Ian Balcobero, 23, the boyfriend of the budding journo, describes Pegeen as being really kind-hearted.
“She is a very hardworking type of person in a way that she will feel the guilt if she will buy expensive things [for her own] because she was always thinking about her family,” Neil said.
Both met because Pegeen was a colleague of his high school friend. Niel said her love for her family was what caught his attention.
“This was the very first thing that I quickly notice[d], how she handle[s] her family. And that is why I really fell in-love [with] her,” he said.
Even though they were far from each other—Niel was in Negros and Pegeen in Cebu, their relationship was regarded as easy and healthy.
Neil mentioned that they always reminded themselves to strive despite whatever difficulties they may encounter.
“Laban lang” was always their mantra. As difficult as it may seem, Neil shares this message for Pegeen: “Langga I just want you to know that I will always love you so much. Lalaban lang po ang imu lablab po. Di gyud tika ma kalimtan ug unsa tika ka palangga. Salamat sa tanan nga love nga imu gepa feel sa akoa langga. Puhon ug magkita ta balik, isang malaking big hug langga.”
Pegeen will be laid to rest on Saturday, March 25.
The little lady with a big heart may be gone, but her memories will surely live on forever./ with Vhenna Mantilla
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