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On Mariannet's Behalf

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How does it happen that a child of 11 hangs herself with a nylon rope at about 3 p.m. on All Souls' Day?

To be sure, there have been many explanations by "experts" as to the definitive reasons that may have led Mariannet Amper of Davao City to take her own young life last Nov. 2.

An unsent letter to the host of the television program Wish Ko Lang, which grants wishes to the hopeful many of the country, contained the wishes of Mariannet's heart: a new pair of shoes and a bag for school, a job for her parents and a new bike. She asked for these gifts in this particular order.

Perhaps she really needed the first two because her old ones were already dilapidated from years of use while she saw her classmates changing shoes and bags regularly. Or then again, perhaps what she truly wanted was that for her parents to have better jobs--a stable job for her father who was irregularly employed as a construction worker, or a more decent living for her mother who earned a meager salary from repacking noodles and doing other people's laundry all day.

Because her other wishes can be granted, she hoped, if her parents had better jobs; but she could not but see the idleness of her father and feel the despair of her mother. And what she really wanted--what she really wished for--were neither shoes on her feet nor a bag on her back but a better life for her parents.

But like a silent prayer or a secret wish to Santa, she could not but squeal what she truly wanted for herself. Midway in her letter she asks for a new bike--a new bike which will take her to the school she had missed for so long because she did not have any transportation allowance; a new bike which could make her feel the cool hand of the wind once again; a new bike which could deliver her from the hell of the poverty she and her family could no longer stand.

The newspapers say that Mariannet Amper killed herself because "she had lost hope that her family would ever rise from poverty." It was also reported that on the last night of her life, Mariannet asked her father if he could spare her P100 for a school project. The father could not give her the amount but promised to find a way. The next day, the father returned with P1000 to a house where his daughter lay dead.

Was this the ultimate cause then?

Bishops and Archbishops also all-too suddenly (and all-too late) have their opinions on the matter. They said that it was definitely poverty and hunger which led the child to what they called "the summit of desperation." And that the culprits (murderers?) were to be found in the "community" and the child's "social surroundings" in particular, and in the "graft and corruption" of the government in general.

And to make it even more ambiguous, the wise and the holy said that "we are all to blame for her death," and that this serves as a "wake-up call" for us and especially for the government to fight poverty and help our less-fortunate brethren.

But even if the P100 that Mariannet was deprived of may have set the stones to crumble beneath her small feet, no one really knows the decisive reason why she had the resourcefulness to find a rope and more so the single-mindedness of actually committing that final act. And even if the now-silent community actually let one of their daughters go silently into the night, no one will really know what darkly happened in that house on November 2 at around the same time the Christ and the child both died.

And be it as it may that we all have blood on our hands--with our neglect and unconcern to our brethren--you and I will never know why this child of God, at that summit of despair, leaped to her death on the day of the dead.

To take the profundity of Mariannet Amper's suicide and to transform it and distort into a mere a "wake-up call " is to even more misunderstand the now sleeping child we never even once listened to when she was awake. And to say that this child killed herself because of the graft and corruption in the government is to once again deprive the child of the very thing she did not have when she was still alive: a face and a name. Mariannet is not just a statistic or another case or another headline that merely gives us another reason that the government should be blamed.

And to say that Mariannet "lost hope"--because she was short of a hundred or did not have the bike of her dreams--does not shed light upon her sweet short life and sudden death; it only reveals our own secret wish of ending our own despair.

You see, children never know how to despair because they always know how to wish. And they always know how to ask an other who may finally grant their wishes--be it in an unsent letter to Vicky Morales or in a silent prayer to the God.



  1. heard from the recent news that she was sexually abused before she ended her life... even a grown-up like me would contemplate on suicide if that hapless situation happens to me...


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