A Town's Lament

Manila Bulletin, March 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

A Town's Lament


SHE LAY in a cheap casket, a girl with a face so innocent that instead turned into a damning attestation of the evil men are capable of.

Jinkys was a tragic story, yet a story so small compared to the spate of bombings now happening in Mindanao or the looming war in Iraq. But this small girls story gathered significance with the way it opened a peoples eyes to the bigger menace that has long been threatening their town, their country.

For as she lay in that casket in deep slumber, she awoke an entire town.

Jinky was an 11-year-old lass from a poor family in the Visayas who lived with her uncles family in Apalit, a small town bordering Pampanga from Bulacan. The uncle, I was told, fed her and cared for her and sent her to a public school and asked her to herd ducks in the field during her free time.

It was no privileged life, but like any girl her age she had everything she ever needed: she had dreams, she had education, and she had her whole life ahead of her.

That innocent life, though, took a very unfortunate turn one day last week when, while attending to her herd just meters away from their home, she was collared and dragged into a grassy field and raped by three men who followed that dastardly act with something more revolting.

The men proceeded to slash Jinkys throat, the cut so deep it almost severed her head from the rest of her body.

As gruesome as the incident was, Jinkys case might have become just another of those disturbing stories town folks hear almost every day but never really heed you know, in on one ear, out the other. That was until the towns beloved parish priest got wind of poor Jinkys plight and took heart.

Mass after mass and homily after homily, Fr. Larry Sarmiento spoke of the dreadful event that ended Jinkys life, the grief that descended on her family and the bigger implications to the town which the crime had come to expose rising criminality, the rampant use of illegal drugs, and a non-existent resolve to stop both.

He ended each homily with a despondent cry: Ala kayung masabal? (Couldnt you care less?)

Well, he got his answer last Friday.

An event unprecedented in the towns history took shape, as thousands of people from all walks of life, from all across town, from various sectors and varying religions joined Jinkys schoolmates in a rally infront of the town hall that condemned her gruesome murder as well as the underlying evils in society which are as much to blame for her death.

It was a massive and emotional and spontaneous reaction, totally apolitical but touching a sensitive chord on everyone who considers the town their own. …

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