‘Let him be the last road rage victim’
“My husband somehow served as a sacrificial lamb. I hope that this will be the last case of road rage death involving bikers,” Rachel, wife of Mark Vincent Garalde who was laid to rest on Tuesday at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, told reporters.
Her sentiments were echoed by her mother-in-law and Garalde’s mother, Malou, who told the crowd: “Our pain is lessened because of your support. We are overwhelmed by your sympathy. We did not expect this. Our unity is very important. Let’s all exercise restraint. I hope this is the last (shooting death) that will happen to bikers or motorists.”
The 35-year-old Garalde was riding his bike when he was shot and killed by Vhon Martin Tanto following a traffic altercation on P. Casal Street in Quiapo, Manila, on July 25. A stray bullet hit a teenager, Rosell Bondoc, in the back, sending her to the hospital where she remains confined.
Garalde’s funeral procession, which started with an 8 a.m. Mass at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, was escorted by around 100 cyclists belonging to different biking groups and several fire trucks and ambulances.
Back at the crime scene
The hearse bearing Garalde’s body later passed by P. Casal Street where a “ghost bike”—a bike painted in white—had been installed as a memorial at the exact spot where he was shot by Tanto.
The bikers, some of whom had taken the day off from work, said that they wanted to attend the funeral to express their sympathies to the family of Garalde with whom they shared the road as cyclists.
“We did not know him personally but we [grieve for] a fellow bike enthusiast. The least we can do is raise awareness and information,” said Jack Yabut, president of the Firefly Brigade, a group of bikers raising awareness about public safety.
“It happened to Garalde. It could happen to anyone,” added Pio Fortuno Jr., a biking advocate.
In previous interviews, Tanto had described Garalde as hot-headed and arrogant. But nothing could be further from the truth, his relatives and friends said, saying he was a very patient, happy and humble person.
Patrick, Garalde’s brother-in-law, said that they called him the “laughing master,” a moniker given to the victim while they were undergoing training in arnis.
“The training was painful; we were all hurt but he would be laughing,” he told the Inquirer.
“He did not start fights and whenever he would get into one, he was the first person to apologize even though he was the one who ended up being hurt,” Patrick added.
Garalde’s widow, on the other hand, attested to her husband’s patience. “That’s why I cannot figure out the suspect’s statements about my husband. He was very patient,” she said.
“He loved biking. He was really sad when he lost his first bike this year. He loved to join long bike trips. He once did in Antipolo City. I was then afraid that he would be involved in an accident. I did not think it would end like this and that biking would be the cause,” she added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.