Remember my blog brigade about the sad fate of Rochel Geronda, the sampaguita vendor who was raped and slain last February? I must say that writing about her is probably one of the best functions of this blog, as I realized that several people relied on my blog to get updates about her. Several people told me that this entry I made about her moved them to tears, and compelled them to take part. But the most touching comment I got was from Dr. Bob Kemerait, an American professor at the University of Florida. One lazy Saturday afternoon as I was Facebook-ing, I was surprised to see a wall post on the Momsterteacher “Fan Page”:
Thank you so much for the continued efforts you make to keep others (like me thousands of miles away) updated about the tragic loss of Rochel Geronda. MY wife’s family lives near the location where Rochel was found and it is possible that my family may have even bought flowers from her in the past. Sadly we cannot bring her life back, but your words and efforts allow us to fight for her justice and to learn of what a special young lady she was. The prayers of my family are with Rochel and with her family. Maraming salamat po.
My wife is from demarces and her last name is Lopez. I will be visiting UPLB and IRRI in May; I would very much like to be able to present Rochel’s family with a small token of our appreciation of for the impact her life has had on us and in remberance of her to her family. Could you help me do that?
Your blog has been so helpful to us; we understand that there is much coverage of the tragic death of Ray Bernard that is easy to find on the Internet, but your blog is all we can find with updated information on Rochel. salamat po.
Here’s his most touching comment:
You have been her voice and a voice for her family. Thank you for that and thank you for allowing me and my family to have a way of expressing our sadness over such a senseless act of violence and cowardice. BUt what I appreciate most is that through your blog, Rochel is not simply a statistic, but she is a student, a daughter, and a young lady who had hopes and dreams for herself and for her siblings. THANK YOU!
When I showed our (Bob’s and mine) exchanges to Randy, even Randy was deeply touched. Here was a foreigner miles and miles away from the Philippines who has never laid eyes on Rochel, but was deeply affected by what happened to her. Talong-talo pa ang ibang kababayang nagkibit-balikat na lang, who considered Rochel merely as a statistic–another victim of merciless killing, next news please. Here a busy man who took an effort to get inouch with me, whose wife he asked to call me just to prove he wasn’t a crazy man out to do me harm, posing under the guise of a “concerned” citizen.
Last week, May 14, Bob and I finally met. I’m sure he was tired, as he was in the Philippines for business and not for pleasure, yet he patiently waited for me at BRAIN TRAIN Main (Los Banos) as I returned from Tanauan City (teaching stint). As soon as I alighted from our vehicle, he approached me, shook my hand, and introduced himself. After I freshened up a bit, I, Bob, and my BRAIN TRAIN friends/colleagues (Irvin, Enteng, Lovely, and Roijin) proceeded to Rochel’s house in this part of “Demarces Subd.” whose existence I had never known until last February when we visited Rochel’s house.
When we arrived at Rochel’s house, I looked for her mom. Mrs. Lani Geronda said she remembers me, and then I introduced her to Bob. Bob told her that his wife grew up in Demarces, and that Rochel used to pass by her house (although his wife has already been in the US when Rochel was born thus his wife never got to actually see Rochel) . He also told Mrs. Geronda how my blog entries made him and his family feel “closer” to Rochel, and how Rochel’s life has touched his own family. Bob also lauded her for having raised Rochel as such: diligent, loving, and responsible.
Even though Mrs. Geronda was not exactly conversant in English, I am sure she understood that Bob was honoring her daughter. She sat quietly as we watched, her tears falling.
One of the touching moments I saw was when Bob gave Mrs. Geronda pictures of all members of his family. He told Mrs. Geronda to please keep the photos, and to be reminded that when she sees them, she should know that those people were touched by Rochel’s life.
Aside from the photos, Bob also gave Mrs. Geronda a pack of chocolates and an envelope containing something “which may help her family” (of course, I did not pry what the envelope contained).
Afterwards, Bob politely asked Mrs. Geronda to have a picture taken of the three of us.
We stayed at the Gerondas’ for at most 15 minutes, as Bob still had to go to IRRI (told you he was a busy man).
My colleagues and I were really amazed how this American and his family abroad deeply cared about Rochel. In everything he did, he asked my opinion of whether it was appropriate. When Mrs. Geronda cried when he lauded Rochel, he apologized for upsetting her. Indeed, Bob was very polite and a real gentleman.
Bob, in behalf of my kababayans, thank you for caring about Rochel THAT much! Regards to your family and looking forward to meeting them soon!
- Life and Death Were Unfair to Cecil Geronda (momsterteacher.com)
- Rochel Geronda News Update (momsterteacher.com)
- Life Given By Jasmines, Life Taken Away By Rapists (momsterteacher.com)
- Justice Must Also Be Given to Rochel Geronda! (momsterteacher.com)