Given Grace burial: ‘No goodbye, just good night’
BINANGONAN, Rizal—The scene was described in two words—unimaginable and overwhelming.
“It is beyond imagination to think that such a girl died of a senseless death,” said Pastor Elmer Tinio of the Darangan Fellowship Church here during Mass for the burial on Tuesday of Given Grace Cebanico.
Tinio said the number of mourners from the church, high school and college classmates “and even those who were merely sharing the grief of the family was overwhelming.”
“She is truly loved by many and will be missed by many,” said Tinio.
“Don’t bid her goodbye. Just tell her good night and we’ll see her again in the presence of God,” said Bishop Tendero of the Philippine Evangelical Church of Christ in his message to Cebanico’s family and friends.
The remains of Given Grace, a student of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, were buried at the Sto. Rosario Memorial Park in her hometown.
Cebanico, 19, a third year computer science student of UPLB was raped and murdered inside the sprawling university campus on Oct. 11.
Suspects Percival de Guzman, 38, a tricycle driver and bank security guard Lester Ivan Lopez Rivera, 22, were arrested separately days after Cebanico’s body was found in a canal and a witness surfaced.
“Purple is her favorite color. She would always put that in our slum books,” said Germealeane Ceneda, 15, who was with Cebanico in the Born Again Christian Church, where Cebanico’s father, Jun, is also a pastor.
Ceneda said Cebanico’s parents asked their daughter’s friends to wear something purple on her funeral. Cebanico’s coffin was also in her favorite color.
“I can only think of all the positive things to say about her. Very studious and very prayerful,” Ceneda said.
Ma. Lourdes Castillo, 50, a resident here, also wore a purple polo shirt as she and the other neighbors of the Cebanicos joined the funeral march.
She said Cebanico went with her daughter in the Rizal Science National High School.
“Her batch mates are here. They are in their high school batch shirt with Batch 8 on it,” she said.
Cebanico’s murder outraged the student and faculty community in the UPLB and the residents here.
“If I were the father, I would have those bastards hanged,” said tricycle driver Jun Espinosa.
“This is the entire Binangonan mourning,” an onlooker said as the hearse passed by houses, with some of the residents staying on top of roofs to catch a glimpse of the funeral march.
Laguna police director Senior Supt. Gilbert Cruz, who was at the funeral Mass, estimated the number of sympathizers to be about 6,000, while a police officer directing traffic said about 2,000 joined the funeral march.
Laguna Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito was at the cemetery, while officials from the provincial government of Rizal paid their visit during the wake. A busload of Cebanico’s classmates from UPLB also came.
Los Baños Mayor Anthony Genuino, in a separate interview, said the local government is planning to conduct random drug tests on tricycle drivers in the town and increase police visibility in the area to prevent a repeat of the rape and murder of Cebanico.
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