MANILA, Philippines – Seven years ago, I fell prey to a robber, who caused me injury that has left a painful scar. But that physical pain was nothing to the one that I felt when criminal elements, notably members of the “budol-budol” gang, victimized my mother over the weekend.
Last Saturday, although I felt sick, I could not contain my excitement because after a long time, my family and I were together to celebrate my birthday with a simple meal at a restaurant.
That morning, my mother said she would go to the store to buy paracetamol for me. I waited for about 30 minutes but never came back. I thought she probably saw a friend and again forgot about the time.
I went out for an hour to meet a friend and when I came back, asked my brother where our mother was. He said she came back, went to my room and went out again in a hurry. My brother said she informed him that she would just go straight to the restaurant. So we proceeded as scheduled.
I tried calling my mother but both her mobile phones were turned off. Although I have gotten used to her being unreachable at times, the feeling this time was different. I was nervous.
My mom never made it to the restaurant. She returned home past 7 p.m. looking distraught. She was carrying a plastic bag containing crumpled papers. She cried and told me she was sorry and told us what happened.
She said that when she went out to buy my medicine, two women approached her, calling her by her name “Aling Dioning.”
The one who called her introduced herself as Carla Santos. My mom said she only saw the two for the first time but knew a Carla Santos a few years back. The two asked how her kids were, even mentioning me and my sibling’s names.
They said they needed to talk to her but she told them to just call her.
She said that when she was about to give her mobile phone number, the two women accosted her and brought her to a van parked along an isolated area in Buenos Aires, Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Inside the van were another woman and a male driver. She said that while they were inside, the women asked her whether I, her daughter, trusted her.
Already scared, she said yes and asked why.
“Sigurado ka? Patunayan mo nga. (Are you sure? Prove it.)” She said she was told to bring my jewelry to them. Mom said she refused but that they threatened her about making her children “disappear.”
Then, they began telling her details about me and my siblings like where we worked, where we lived, what time we usually left the house. So my mom had no choice but to agree.
Without giving the address, they drove her to our house, with the man taking her phones and promising to give them back to her after she returned.
Mom, Carla and the other woman went out. The two gave her only a few minutes to get the jewelry. They waited outside our gate. When my mom came back to them, they walked to the parked van at the street nearest to our house.
They brought my mother inside the van, took my jewelry and drove off with her.
After hours of begging, they gave my mother transport fare inside a plastic bag and let her go along Santol area in Quezon City. But the fare turned out to be crumpled paper.
My excitement at the start of that day was reduced to dismay over the fact that I had I lost my jewelry – at least P70,000 worth.
But the dismay was replaced with relief as the loss of jewelry was of little cost to the fact that I got my mom back.
No amount of jewelry could top that.
And as for the perpetrators, police now have a cartographic sketch of the suspects.