Justice Should be (for) Given


During our Victory Small Group (aka Cell Group) Meeting this afternoon, our group leader Rhia Frio told us about the sad fate of our churchmate, Given Grace Cebanico (she attends our youth services but her mother church is in Rizal).  According to Rhia, Given’s lifeless body was found near the International Rice Research Institute on Tuesday at 6.30 a.m.  Her legs were bruised (thus the speculation that she was raped) and she was shot.  Rhia told us that Given was last seen by at 2 a.m. after joining a group study (this is Finals Week for UPLB students) held at a classmate’s house in Umali Subdivision to return to her dorm which was not very far.  Rhia added that Given was the daughter of a pastor.

From what I’ve heard and read so far, Given Grace was indeed a given grace to her parents.  I’m sure she has brought her parents so much joy, what with being a UP honor student, a DOST scholar, and a God-fearing girl.  Up to the last day of her life, she was trying to make her parents proud by diligently studying up to the wee hours.  She wasn’t even like me or other students who walk on the dim streets of LB after a night of partying–she was walking home after a group study session.  Truth be told, I had a moment of weakness earlier when someone in our group said:  “Dapat talaga ipag-pray natin ang mga anak natin lagi”, because I remembered that Given Grace’s dad is a pastor.  I even said:  “E di ba I’m sure ipinagpe-pray naman siya ng parents niya kasi nga pastor ang tatay niya?”  For a brief moment, I wanted to tell God that He was being unfair—Why a promising child of His?  Why the “given grace” of a God-fearing man?  But we have to remember that 1.) God has plans for every one of us–we may not see His purpose right now but we eventually will (Jeremiah 29:11); 2.) If my thoughts about Given Grace and her family are correct, she is definitely in a better place now; and 3.) Whatever may happen, we have to remember that God wants us to pray and seek Him.

I guess I speak for everyone in the meeting when I say that we were shocked, saddened, and enraged upon hearing it.  For the first time in a long time, I felt mildly grateful that my child is a boy, as girls are more vulnerable to predators.

I have never met this girl; in fact I haven’t even heard of her before today, but the news of her senseless death has shaken me because of the following:

  1. As a UPLB alumna and Victory Los Banos member, I feel a certain kinship towards the girl.
  2. As a mom, I can’t help but grieve with her parents.  It used to be that I thought I know how painful it is to lose a child, but now that I actually do have a child, the theoretical-losing-of-a-child pain has magnified a thousandfold.  Right now, I’m quite certain that I’d lose my marbles if I lose my child.  Just last night, I was trying to Ferberize (aka let-baby-cry-until-he-sleeps-on-his-own) my baby.  It was difficult for me to hear him cry, begging me to cradle him in my arms.  I was trying to tell myself to be strong, but upon seeing him rise from his crib and raise his arms towards me, I gave in and cradled him.  I even teared up a bit.  What more when you learn that your child suffered before she died?  Suffer, as in “Police said the victim had a bullet wound on her forehead and bruises all over her body.  Both her hands were tied and masking tape covered her mouth.  The victim also did not have any underwear, leading police to suspect that she was raped before she was killed.”  To learn that your child suffered is already too much.  To learn that you’ve lost your child is almost unbearable.  But Given’s parents have to keep on hearing how their child suffered first and then died.
  3. As someone who lived on Mt. Halcon St. in Umali Subd. in college, I cringed at the thought that she could’ve been I or any of my dorm mates.  When I was in college, I was so carefree and confident that nothing would happen to me even as I walk through the dim streets of Umali Subd.  There were times when I walked alone from our dorm to a not-so-near restaurant late at night.  I also remember myself and a dorm mate getting ourselves drunk and then walking ourselves back to our dorm.  We laugh at that memory, true, but I realize now how stupid it was.  I realize that my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s (who was ten years my senior and was in college during the Aileen Sarmenta-Allan Gomez murder) paranoia of my college lifestyle was well-founded.  He was right to follow me and fetch me from my night outs.  I used to tell him that students walking at night was normal for UPLB students these days (and even on those days), but it was stupid.  I can’t help but utter a prayer of thanks: Lord, thank you for protecting me when I was being a stupid college girl.
I don’t want to end this entry without saying this:  Kids, allow us parents to be paranoid.  It will be difficult for you to understand, yes, but if look into our hearts and minds, you would understand.  Actually, I am struggling with words here because I know you never might until you become parents yourselves.  So let me try a different approach:  I know how much you want to be cool and popular (oh trust me I do!), and your parents want that too.  No parent wants his/her child to be known as the “loser”/”uncool” one…but we (parents) would rather have a breathing “loser”/”uncool” child to hug and to kiss rather than just the memories of your “cool” but now cold lifeless body.  And with the ways of the world right now, you can hardly say that your parents’ fears are unfounded.  Children, we are the ones who have BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.  We know how it is to be your age–it is you who do not know how it is to be a parent.  If you take time to reflect on how we parents have sacrificed so many things just for you, you would realize that the cliched “We just love you so much and we want the best for you” is not just a line to make you follow us.  Deep emotions run through us as we plead you to THINK of your every action and to TAKE CARE of yourself.  Sometimes we are no longer coherent and may not get our message across, because we are often emotional when we give you our reminders.  And we are emotional because we just love you very much.


15 responses »

  1. I checked out Given Grace’s Facebook account, and on Tuesday (or was it Monday) her mom posted on her wall–the mom was asking Given’s friend Given’s whereabouts, kung kelan daw huling nakita si Given/alam ba ng friend asan si Given. She was also asking for Given’s friend’s contact numbers. I wanted to post a screenshot of it but I felt like doing so would just be intrusive. Grabe ang instinct ng moms, no? It was heartbreaking.

  2. There will be an indignation rally tom for Given Grace Cebanico in front of the UP Gate at 12nn. Please wear white and bring candles. If you would like to offer a song, poem, etc., please contact Mr. Mark Lester Chico at 0495763952 (teletext)

  3. I am saddened by this news…I am also lost for words just like you Dew. May God rest her soul in peace and may His Justice prevail.


    Nahuli na yung isa nung wednesday pa ng gabi, pero may follow-up operations pa ang CIDG para hulihin yung isa pang kakutsaba. That’s why shadow reports pa lang ang inihahayag sa media. It was the result of a grassroots intelligence and probably luck or divine intervention. There was a third suspect who tu…rned witness. Kasama dapat siya panghohold-up at pagpatay kay Given pero hindi siya sumama. The guy told what he knew to a tricycle driver, who happens to be a kumpare of one of our Barangay Tanods. Nakonsyensya rin yung driver at sinabi na rin sa Tanod. Problem is we cannot make an arrest dahil wala pa kaming ebidensya.

    We then nabbed the third guy and placed full surveillance dun sa suspect. Then comes the Divine intervention last wednesday evening. Nagkagulo sa FO Santos St. dahil may kaaway yung suspect, kinursunada niya ang isang autistic na bata. Kapitan Nilo made his move to arrest the suspect. Habang inaaresto yung suspect ay napadaan ang isang mataas na opisyales ng PNP-CIDG who has a child living in Umali Subd. Dinala namin sa barangay yung suspect at nang kapkapan ay nakita sa kanya ang I-phone na pag-aari ni Given.

    From there the pieces came together. Ikinanta lahat ng suspect ang kanilang ginawa. It was horrible while I listen to his testimony, I prefer not to tell it to you. It was really horrible.

    The PNP-CIDG is now handling the case. Pam, you can post this message to all your friends. Pwede mo rin itong i-kwento sa mga estudyante mo. PNP will get all the credits and promotions, pero I give much credit to our Tanods.

  5. Hi, Momsteacher. Here is the comment on my blog that you asked reposted here. Thank you.:


    HI, momsterteacher. Was wondering if you were able to download the messages on the series When God Doesn’t Make Sense. It addresses these issues.

    A food for thought: God has not promised that we will not face harm here on earth. As a matter of fact, he promised persecution and suffering in hands of people just as our brothers and sister are experiencing in the underground churches in China and the Middle East. Aside from Judas and John, all the ten other original apostles suffered violent deaths for their faith. At times He chooses to deliver, at times he takes us home. Only He truly knows why. He only promises us that all things work for the good of those who love Him. I guess at times, in His eternal wisdom, He takes us home early. The Apostle Paul says, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” What Christ delivered us from is not from earthly suffering but from sin and eternal suffering and that is the most important of all. Whether He preserves us here on earth or not, He already paid the ultimate price to give us eternal life. The Bible says that any suffering we experience here will not even compare with what He has in store for us. It will wipe away everything. That is our blessed hope and the reason why the apostles and martyrs were able to face crucifixion, the flames, lions, being torn to pieces by animals, the sword and stoning to death. They had the blessed hope.

    We may not know and understand everything but we can trust God with our lives because He already paid the ultimate price for our eternal life. We can only trust the He knows what He is doing. In that we can rejoice!

    • Thanks Pastor Ernie! I could’ve just copy-pasted your comment here but I think it’s better for readers to see you actually post it 🙂

  6. Well said and explained… Feeling so sad again on why this had to happen to Given Grace. Many hearts were touched; many people were affected. It’s sad that what we can only do is to pray for her soul, but prayer means a lot. We need to learn the lessons that Given Grace taught us in sacrificing her life so that we, children and parents, realize how to live our lives — doing good things and serving God. Thanks for this post, even though I cried again for Given Grace because of this.

    • Are you a personal friend of hers? My condolences to you. Yes, her death has made me realize things that I used to take for granted. I just hope other young people could read this blog to be reminded that THEY ARE NOT INVINCIBLE. Let us all keep safe and listen to our elders.

      • I don’t know her personally, but I was very affected. I am an alumnus of UPLB, and maybe that is one of the reasons why I was so affected. Many people felt her loss despite not knowing her, and that was because she showed us how to live our lives, specially the youth — be a good daughter, study very well, be cheerful, be friendly, and, most of all, trust and serve God. This world is indeed not safe anymore. Many minds and hearts are corrupted. We just have to trust God and believe that He has a plan for us.

  7. Pingback: Justice Must Also Be Given to Rochel Geronda! « momsterteacher

  8. Pingback: Rochel Geronda News Update « momsterteacher

  9. Pingback: Life Given By Jasmines, Life Taken Away By Rapists « momsterteacher

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