With a seemingly unlimited source of energy, Stephanie Nicole Ella, the 7-year-old girl hit and killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve, entertained everyone in her family, according to her grandmother.
“On that fateful day, she was so perky, always smiling and was so energetic,” Carmencita Ella, 53, said in an interview with the Inquirer on Thursday. “It’s as if she had a boundless source of energy.”
That morning, Ella said, Nicole was with her 5-year-old brother, Kenken, and their cousins Icy Mae and MC Ella in their modest bungalow on San Lorenzo Street, Barangay 185, Malaria, Caloocan City.
“She was egging her brother and cousins to dance… She was also helping with the games and contests for the four of them,” Ella said.
When the prizes ran out, Nicole, who was active in a born-again church as a “tambourine dancer,” led her brother and cousins in nonstop dancing.
“She was so happy, as if she never got tired at all. She danced to the tune of ‘Gangnam Style’ and sang the songs they danced to in church,” Ella said.
When night came Nicole and the three other kids took pictures and videos of themselves outside the house.
Last act of love
And at “media noche,” held at 11 p.m.—an hour earlier than the family holds the feast every year—Nicole finished first. Stephanie then did what Ella described as the little girl’s last act of love for her.
“She asked me, gently, if we could share her glass of soft drink, as she was already full. I agreed and she then sped off with her cousins, father, mother and uncles and aunties to the street to watch the fireworks,” Ella said.
Minutes later, Nicole suddenly dropped to the floor.
“We thought she collapsed because of the smoke from the fireworks,” Ella said. “But we saw blood gushing out of a wound in her head so we rushed her to the hospital.”
8 cardiac arrests
Nicole died on Wednesday afternoon after eight cardiac arrests.
“I did not go with them to the hospital but when I learned of that last cardiac arrest, I whispered, ‘If you’re already tired, then I agree.’ But it still hurts,” Ella said.
Nicole was born a fighter, Ella said.
The girl was born by cesarean section on Sept. 1, 2005. Doctors decided on the procedure because the infant’s umbilical cord was wound twice around her neck, a condition that could lead to choking if she would be allowed to be born the normal way.
“That was the reason why, at first, we were wondering why she was seemingly being pulled back to the womb. She could have died there but she hung on,” Ella said.
Nicole grew up to become a consistent honor student in preschool and in her Grade 1 class at Tala Elementary School in Caloocan.
“Her teachers were fond of her because she was always the first in class to finish her projects. And her teachers would then display her entries in front of the class,” Ella said.
“Every time she had an assignment, she would bug her mother to print it after she had finished with it. And her teachers loved her because of her punctuality,” Ella added.
The grieving grandmother said she would miss her loving and thoughtful granddaughter, who never failed to make her smile every day.
God does not sleep
“I hope and pray the person who fired that gun will surrender. Look at what happened to the victim of indiscriminate firing,” Ella said, pointing to Nicole in the coffin. “I hope that person does not experience our pain now,” Ella said.
“That person may not be caught by police, that person may not be punished for what he did, but we know God does not sleep and He will give us justice,” Ella said. “I know He has a soft spot for children. I know that.”