suicide’s a bitch (updated)

18 March 2013

UP manila and CHED are grasping at straws, hoping an investigation will reveal that it wasn’t just the tuition problem but a confluence of events — besides the poverty, there was an unfaithful boyfriend perhaps?  an uncaring or cruel parent?   a personality or mental disorder that suddenly manifested?  all of the above? — that drove kristel to suicide.

but even if she had had other problems, doubtless the overriding one was the tuition problem, which preoccupied and worried her no end over the last months of her life. and she and her parents did not lack for due diligence, checking out all options, writing the letters that had to be written, pleading begging meeting with admin people for help, trying to meet deadlines, dealing with red tape, while studying to get good grades.

it’s easy to say that she could should have settled for less, like PUP where it’s cheaper, or that she could have, while on leave-of-absence, gotten a job and made ipon to pay her loans and the next tuition.  it’s easy to say that she should have been strong and tough, rolled with the punches instead of throwing in the towel. easy to say she was wrong, she was sick, she was dysfunctional.

easy to say, because clearly you have no idea what it’s like to be poor, most likely you don’t really KNOW anyone who’s poor, and you just do not have the mind-heart to imagine the suffering and despair that being poor, having no money, having to go hungry is all about.  obviously, you are happy enough with the status quo, you are happy enough with this state of affairs in which you find yourself among the fortunate few, and you are in denial about the gross and long-running injustice that underpins your individual happiness, never mind that it has oppressed so many for so long.

yeah, it’s infinitely easier to condemn kristel than to condemn the political economic educational system that is at the root of our poverty.  yes, OUR poverty, because the poverty of the majority is the poverty of all.  ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay sakit ng buong katawan; lalo pang masakit kung halos buong katawan ang naghihirap.  and if you don’t feel the sakit, if you’re dedma, then you must be an extremely dead cell, like hair, or patay na kuko, and the least you can do is suffer our grief in dead silence.

*

read, too, ana marie pamintuan’s Despair, and rody vera’s facebook status that i’m privileged to share here.

Rodolfo Vera  May mga nagsasabi na marami daw factors kung bakit nagsu-suicide ang isang tao kung kaya’t hindi daw dapat ibintang sa sistema ang kamatayan ni Kristel. At saka hindi naman daw sinabi ng sistema na magpakamatay siya. Marami naman daw nagkagayon ang financial situation pero hindi naman nagpakamatay. Gusto kong isuka sa kanila ang mga katwirang iyan nang marinig ko si Christopher Tejada, ang tatay ni Kristel, kung paano niya nasaksihan ang dahan-dahang pagbulusok ng damdamin at kalagayan ni Kristel:

“Sa Sta Cruz kami noon, bumili ang anak ko ng kendi sa halagang 20 pesos. Ang sabi ko, ‘anak, bakit mo ginastos lahat iyan sa kendi?’ Ang sagot niya sa akin, ‘Tay, lunch ko na po ito.’ Ganoon siya ka pursigido para lang makapasok sa school… Kahit pa siya magutom, makapasok lang. UP ang naging buhay niya…”

Maaring maraming factor ang nagdudulot ng pagpapatiwakal ng isang tao. PERO hindi ibig sabihin na natawaran na ang pinsalang dinulot ng tiwaling sistema sa edukasyon sa isang tulad ni Kristel. Totoong maraming nananatiling buhay at nagtitimpi lamang, o tinitiis ang ganyang sistema. Nagpapasya ang iba na huwag na lang ito pansinin, huwag nang manggulo para sa pagbabago. Sa partikular na kontekstong ito hindi ko tuloy alam kung sino sa kanila ang mas matapang.

Oo, hindi sinabi ng sistema na magpakamatay tayo. Dahil walang pakialam ang sistema kung magpakamatay ka, o magutom ka, o mag-abroad ka, o manigas ka sa kinatatayuan mo ngayon. Ang importante lang sa sistema ay magbayad ka. Wala itong pakialam kung saan mo kukunin ang pambayad. At hindi magbabago ang sistema kung tiniis mo lang ito dahil kapag tiniis mo ito, magiging pruweba ka lang ng sistema na epektibo naman pala ito. Kaya natin tinutuligsa ang sistema ay dahil WALA ITONG PAKIALAM kung buhay o mamatay o magutom ang enrolee. Basta nagbayad siya. Yun ang bulgar, yun ang burgis. Yun ang walang puso. Nakakasulasok. Ito ang pinakanakakahiyang panahon para sa U.P. at sistemang edukasyon sa bayan ko.

*

Posted in kristel, poverty, suicide

19 Responses to suicide’s a bitch (updated)

  1. March 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm
    manuel buencamino

    Walang suicide note. Hindi pwedeng gumawa ng conclusyon sa haka-haka. Subalit hindi mapipigilan ang ilang tao na sisihin kaagad ang sistema.

    Sa paniniwala ng mga sumasampalataya sa relihyon ng class war, lahat ng nangyayaring masama sa mundo ay nagmumula sa sistemang makamayaman. Parang na rin sila nung mga relihyosong naniniwala na lahat ng masama ay nanggagaling sa demonyo.

    Halatang nagmumula sa isang paniniwala lamang ang isip na yan kasi wala naman batayan, walang suicide note, na magpapatunay na nagsuicide yun bata dahil kinapos siya ng pera pang tuition.

    Kanina may nakausap akong isang working student. Panganay siya sa anim na magkakapatid. Yun lima grade school hanggang high school. Ang tatay niya ay construction worker at ang nanay niya ay namamasukan. Tanong niya, “Talagang nagpakamatay ba si Kristel dahil walang pambayad ng tuition?” Sagot ko, “Hindi ko alam kasi walang suicide note.Baka.” Sabi niya, “Hindi ko maintindihan yun. Magtrabaho siya at mag-ipon tapos bumalik siya sa pag-aaral. Ako ganun kasi di naman kaya ng magulang namin paaralin kaming lahat.” Napaisip tuloy ako.

    So ang tanong ko ay eto. Tuturuan ba natin ang mga kabataan na sisihin ang sistema sa kanilang kalagayan o hihimukin ba natin sila na magpursige?

    Kung ang layunin natin ay ipakita na walang pagasa kung hindi gibain ang sistema at magtatag ng isang utopia, okay ibato natin ang lahat na masamang pangyayari sa umiiral na sistema. Sabihin natin sa kabataan na wala silang magagawa, wala silang pagasa umangat kahit pa anong galing at sipag nila habang nabubuhay sila sa ilalim ng umiiral na sistema. Anong sistema ang ibebenta natin sa kanila?

    Kung ang layunin naman natin ay magbigay sa kabataan ng pag-asa at tiwala sa sarili, nararapat siguro na himukin nating sila na kaya nilang abutin ang kanilang mga pangarap kung sila ay may sikap at tiyaga.

    Madaling sisihin ang sistema. Kasingdali yan ng sisihin ang demonyo. At ang masaklap diyan ay yun mga naninisi, yan ang makikinabang kung maniwala ka sa kanila. Tatakbo ka sa kanilang yakap at hihingi ka ng proteksyon tulad ng mga inosenteng tumatakbo sa mga pari para bigyan sila ng proteksyon laban sa demonyo. Isusuko mo ang sarili mong diskarte sa diskarte nila.

    Sa palagay ko mas magandang turuan ang tao na maniwala sa kanilang sariling kakayahan. Oo nga at may pinapanganak na mayaman at mahirap, tulad na din yan nang may mga pinapanganak na maganda o pangit. Hindi tayo pinapanganak na pantay pantay. Kahit ano pa ang sistema, meron nasa poder na nagpapatakbo ng sistema at meron din na wala sa poder. Kaya ang pagangat ay nasa indibidual.

    Yun ambisyon, determinasyon, sipag at tiyaga, yan ay nasasa bawat tao at walang kahit na ano pang sistema sa mundo ang makapagpapairal na tabla ang lahat sa ambisyon, determinasyon, sipag, at tiyaga. Iyan mga qualities na yan at hindi ang sistema ang gagawa ng kinabukasan ng bawat tao.

    Kahit pa sa sistema ng slavery. Tanong nga sa Django Unchained, “bakit di niyo pinagpapatay ang mga amo ninyo?” Ang nakikita kong sagot diyan ay umiral kasi ang defeatist mentality, tinanggap nila na ang poder ay nasa kamay ng iba at wala sa kanilang kamay.

    Defeatist mentality ang patutunguhan kung tatanggapin ng bawat tao ang pagturo ng sisi sa sistema o sa demonyo. Ang pagbibitaw ng tiwala sa sariling kakayahan at abilidad na humanap ng paaran umasenso ang hadlang, hindi ang sistema o ang demonyo.

    Oo nga at mas madali sana kung lahat pinapanganak ng pantay-pantay pero hindi ganun ang buhay, at walang ganun na lugar sa mundo. Maraming nangangako pero sa katotohanan ay walang utopia. Kailangan umasa sa sariling kakayahan. Hindi nakakatulong ang manisi. Lalo na kung ang sisisihin ay isang entity sa labas natin, tulad ng sistema o ng demonyo, at ang solusyon ay isang entity din sa labas natin tulad ng ibang sistema o ibang demonyo.

    • March 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      there IS a suicide note, google it… the economic (dis)order is man-made. that we don’t know what to replace the system with is no excuse not to adcknowledge that it is fatally flawed and needs overhauling…

  2. March 19, 2013 at 12:21 am
    BrianB

    Get a job at sixteen?

    A lot of factors but in one report she cried before a school admin while her father was begging.

    The “defeatist attitude” of the Filipino masses is not just an attitude but a mental disorder in itself. The way Filipinos behave remind me of the definition of a borderline personality. Parang na molest yung mga kababayan natin.

  3. March 19, 2013 at 12:38 am
    manuel buencamino

    Kung sabagay may informant is 19. Nagbantay daw siya dun sa sari0sari store ng lola niya

  4. March 19, 2013 at 12:54 am
    GabbyD

    angela,

    a couple of quick thoughts:

    1) what do you imagine to be the solution that wouldve prevented this suicide? why would it have prevented it, kung nahihirapan na sya? would this solution be available to all kids? at what cost?

    2) why isnt anyone talking about mental health, but education policy? shouldnt we be worrying about that more?

    3) also, there is an implicit assumption here that life is pointless unless you get what you want, or if its easier to get what your want/ your dreams.

    is this really the lesson we want to promote? i dont think anyone’s really cracked how to live one’s life to the fullest, but i doubt that anyone said its ok to kill oneself if you cant get what you want.

  5. March 19, 2013 at 1:19 am
    baycas

    Psychological autopsy needed. Suicide, or any tragedy for that matter, may be a result of cascading events…confluence of failures.

    Root cause analysis will eventually point to a system failure…if indeed there was failure in the system. Only then can a prevention of a similar incident be instituted and perhaps may tell us that Kristel’s death was truly a “wake up call” (as Ellen Tordesillas puts it).

    Case in point is the fact that her mother didn’t work originally because, in the past, the family could afford that her father be the sole breadwinner. Could there be a long-standing depression in the first place?

    Nakaririwasa sila dati, ngayon hikahos na at kailangan pang tumigil sa pagpasok sa escuela.

    Kristel has a younger sister who is a scholar in a private school and, from what I heard from her mother, another sibling is also good in school. Could she be already in despair because the family practically begged for money so she could continue her schooling? If only she had strived harder to get full scholarship…???

    Naging pabigat ba siya? Teenager lang siya…’di ba niya nakayanan ang mga adversities in life?

    Blame game is often played and speculations abound after a tragic event. However, I’m sure there are a lot of unanswered questions only a psychological autopsy may hopefully answer.

    • March 19, 2013 at 1:41 am
      baycas

      Psychol Med. 2003 Apr;33(3):395-405.

      Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review.
      Cavanagh JT, Carson AJ, Sharpe M, Lawrie SM.
      University of Glasgow Department of Psychological Medicine, The Academic Centre, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701661

    • March 19, 2013 at 1:43 am
      baycas

      Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2012 May 11.

      Suicide in the absence of mental disorder? A review of psychological autopsy studies across countries.
      Milner A, Sveticic J, De Leo D.
      Source
      Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Australia.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22582346

    • March 19, 2013 at 4:07 am
      GabbyD

      in light of the studies u posted, it makes me wonder: why is it no one is talking about preventing suicides? counseling?

  6. March 19, 2013 at 2:31 am

    wow. you guys are fantastic.

    if poverty and the systemic dysfunction of the STFAP in UP are not enough reason for hopelessness and sadness, then congratulations with your lives well lived outside of the Tondo one room apartment that Kristel and her family lived in.

    and if you think these seemingly objective assertions about what we should all be looking at OTHER THAN the systemic dysfunction of the StateU and of education in general are the point, then you are exactly the mouthpieces the State needs to insist that all is right in the world. congratulations to this government! it has all of you.

    • March 19, 2013 at 10:17 am
      Bert

      Okay, let’s be a bit clear about this. They live in a one room apartment in Tondo. Could be that that they live in poverty too. Is that a reason to label STFAP as a dysfunctional system? STFAP policy grants free tuition to deserving students whose parent’s yearly income is not over P130,000.00. If Kristel’s family is living in poverty, she’s not supposed to be paying any tuition while studying in UP, right? If she would not avail of the STFAP privileges available to her, why, it should not be the failure of the system that is at fault, is it?

    • March 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm
      manuel buencamino

      Do you have comparative statistics on suicide rates in Tondo vs. other similarly depressed areas? How about suicide rates in Tondo versus gated villages?

  7. March 19, 2013 at 6:23 am
    GabbyD
  8. March 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Very interesting article. I personally don’t find it easy to condemn the young woman. And I can’t seem to find any culprits, either, at the University, which, after all is not a lending institution and must deal with thousands of students, many asking for breaks. You set a line, and you follow it.

    If there are culprits, they are societal: (1) poverty, as you have pointed out, and (2) lack of psychological counseling resources within the Philippines, mainly because going to a shrink is taboo. When the Filipino community understands that understanding emotions is little different than understanding chemistry or history, then more people with find, both within themselves, and in the community, resources to help them deal with problems that only SEEM huge at the time.

    I agree with baycas. Conduct a psychological post mortem to find out the whole truth about the girl’s pains. Don’t find easy targets that seem like the whole truth.

    Thanks for the article.

  9. March 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm
    manuel buencamino

    “Mahal na mahal ko ang pamilya ko. At lahat din ng iba pang nagmamahal sa akin. Di ko lang talaga rin kinaya. Sana mapatawad at ipagdasal niyo ko. Salamat sa lahat magkikita pa ulit tayo. Sorry pero kailangan ko lang talagang gawin to (I love my family very much, and all those who love me. I just could not take it anymore. I hope that they will forgive me and pray for me. Thank you for everything and we will see each other again. Sorry but I really need to do this).”

    “Tandaan (Remember) : Without true love, we’re nothing,” she said in her letter.

    Where does it mention tuition?

    “Tandaan (Remember) : Without true love, we’re nothing.” Could that be a better explanation for her suicide?

    • March 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      philstar’s version has an additional paraphrased line attributed to kristel: “She also said that love was not limited to romantic relationships and can be expressed to family members, classmates, friends and most of all, to God.” just before the “tandaan…” line.

      http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/03/17/920669/new-enrolment-ruling-if-only-kristel-had-known

      • March 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm
        manuel buencamino

        still where is tuition? Was tuition mentioned at all, did she say that she was killing herself because of failure to pay tuition?

        • March 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm

          talagang no reading between the lines, ganoon

  10. March 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm
    Exyz

    “easy to say, because clearly you have no idea what it’s like to be poor, most likely you don’t really KNOW anyone who’s poor, and you just do not have the mind-heart to imagine the suffering and despair that being poor, having no money, having to go hungry is all about.”

    And you think you do? Careful. The dead cannot defend themselves from inconplete, even wrong, assumptions.

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