My Room Mate, Maan

Let me tell you about my friend Maan. I am doing this so I can share the kind of person she was, and so I will remember the memory of a friend.

Unlike most horror stories of room mates from hell, this girl from Zamboanga whom I first saw before school started that year in 1994, has an open pleasant face about her. She is naturally talkative. We became fast friends in a dorm called Kalayaan where freedom was ironically far from reach. Imagine, curfew at 9 pm? =)

That girl and I became room mates for that year, and for the next three years after when we transferred to another dorm called Yakal. Being roommates was our choice. In fact, we were made to write a letter stating that we specifically wanted to be room mates.

She was so full of life and had so many plans that it was unbelievable that she was robbed off her life in the most senseless and painful of ways.

Jerry Salappudin, your target was Wahab Akbar, but you know my friend was hit the worst that day. She was nearer the area where you planted your evil bomb. She was burned beyond recognition, and it took a friend of hers most of the day to do her make up so she will look presentable to those who will look at her coffin. Maan I know would have appreciated that gesture.

I heard the news of the bombing on TV. I was 3 or 4 months pregnant then and my tears did not fall easily even after I heard her name because in my heart, I was hoping it wasn’t true. A month or so before that, she texted me saying she’ll be going to the US and that we need to see each other when she comes back. I happily told her the news of my pregnancy, and that of our other friend and that she is going to be my firstborn’s godmother.

It pains me to remember how she died, because truth be told, nobody deserves to go that way.

She was a girl full of zest, full of life. We share the same course but had different sets of friends. Still, in what we consider home (the dorm), she was a sister to me.

During our first year, the dorm was very strict. From SM North Edsa, we have to rush and run to the dorm’s door before it closes at 9 pm, lest we be marked as late. And we’ve done this quite a few times. I will never forget how we enticed a dorm mate to punch laced with alcohol and Tintin did nothing but puke all evening, it made us nervous. What if we needed to bring her to the Infirmatay (the Infirmary)?

We would cook instant noodles together when cooking was strictly prohibited inside the rooms, and would mark our bottles of water with “with medication” so nobody would dare take them from the common dorm fridge. She would take back to Manila a tub of adobo, cooked by her mom and we would eat that for several days straight so we can save on dinner, and she would listen to me cry almost every night that first year at school because papa had just passed away.

So, Jerry Salappudin, if you’re really the culprit, if there is something worse than rotting in hell, then I hope you get it. You killed her just a few days after she celebrated her 30th birthday and when she had a whole bright future ahead of her.

For my friend Maan, may you rest in peace now that this shall hopefully come to an end.

(Maan was Henry Pryde Teves, Jr.’s Chief of Staff at the time of her death. She was one of the victims of the Batasan blast last November 2007.)

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