Latest Stories

For Kristel Tejada, studying was a coping mechanism


“She loved studying. She loved UP (University of the Philippines). She believed that financial limitations shouldn’t be a hindrance to education. She didn’t expect that the system implemented last year would defeat her,” the mother of the University of the Philippines freshman  who committed suicide last Friday told the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the wake in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Blesilda Tejada was referring to the “no late payment” policy of UP Manila which directs teachers to turn away from their classes students who fail to pay their tuition. The memorandum was issued last October and signed by vice chancellor for academic affairs Marie Josephine de Luna.

Two days before she killed herself, 16-year-old Kristel Pilar Mariz Tejada—a Behavioral Sciences student—was forced to take a leave of absence for the second semester after she failed to pay her tuition due to her family’s dire financial situation.

According to Andrea Martinez, Tejada’s psychology professor and program adviser, for Tejada, studying was a coping mechanism as it  was not just a way to achieve her dreams but also a way to deal with her problems.

“When I’m in school, I forget the problems at home,” Tejada had confided in her, she told the Inquirer.

Martinez added that Tejada had been wallowing in guilt because she felt that she had let her parents down.

“I’m the eldest child, they have high hopes for me and I’m studying in UP,” Tejada told her once, she said.

She recalled that Tejada had endured weeks of attending classes even though her name would not be called whenever the teacher checked the attendance in accordance with the “no late payment” policy.

“For a teenager, it’s a blow to your self-esteem. She had asked to sit in [in my class] because she was interested in the subject. When she told me she felt embarrassed, I included her name in the roll call,” Martinez said.

In February, Tejada was forced to skip her classes after she missed the deadline for the payment of her tuition although she would still go to the campus and talk to Martinez.

She had told Martinez that she would wake up early in the morning only to realize that she could not go to school anymore.

When she was finally forced to file a leave of absence last Wednesday, Tejada had to surrender her UP identification card, something she found very difficult to do. “The ID was symbolic of her holding on to UP,” Martinez said.

On Tuesday night, Tejada sent her a text message which went: “I’m sorry I told a lie. I said I was OK but I was not and I am not.”

Tejada’s mother, meanwhile, said that “blame” may not be the right word although she believed the system at the university had a part in her daughter’s decision to end her life.

The family has been having financial problems after her husband, Christopher, lost his regular job as a warehouse coordinator when the company shut down, she added.

Tejada, who wanted to be a doctor, was able to finish high school at Manila Cathedral School as a scholar. Her younger sister, also a scholar at MCS, and two younger brothers are all consistent honor students.

Tejada’s father had even pleaded with the UP vice chancellor to give them enough time to pay their daughter’s tuition as Blesilda, who was with him, cried but she said she was told to “stop crying and accept the policy.”

Cleve Arguelles, UP system student regent, said on his Facebook page, “The case of Kristel Tejada was not a suicide. There was no choice—either you pay or you stop pursuing your dreams. She was killed by the system—a system that refuses to recognize that education is a right.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Education , Kristel Tejada , Metro , Suicide , UP-Manila

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • Marketplace