Coping with the Loss of a Journalist Parent

Some children of slain journalists still do not understand why their father or mother was killed. Others have come to accept the situation and have learned to be proud of what their parents did.


Dennis Rev Vigo, 15, seems to be like any ordinary teenager. A closer look, however, reveals that the boy has become more mature compared to others of his age.

Dennis is the eldest son of slain journalists Maricel and George Vigo. On June 19, 2006, while the Vigos couple were on their way home in the afternoon riding a motorcycle, a gunman fired at them resulting in their death.

George is a correspondent for Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) in Kidapawan City. They were staff writers of a weekly newspaper The Headlliner published in Cotabato City and circulated in Mindanao from 1998 until it folded up in 2003. They were both members of the Federation of Reporters for Empowerment and Equality (FREE).

In a psychotherapy session organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on May 2, Dennis recited the poem he wrote for his parents.

The life of the poor, they unfold
Stories of the oppressed they told
Though of age so old
Both remained brave and bold

The government they lived by
Is the reason they die
The one that opposed their ideas
The one that ignored their cries

I admired their devotion
The will to find a solution
Even with the cost of their life
Nothing can stop this husband and wife

Though they are dead
Lying in their coffin bed
All that they wrote and said
Will forever remain in my soul and head

In an interview with Bulatlat, Dennis said he misses his Mama and Papa. He described his Mama as strict but sweet. “Pero mas close ako kay Papa,” (But I was closer to Papa.) he said.

Lahat kami nahirapan. Nawalan [ako] ng gana sa pag-aaral,” (All of us suffered [from losing them]. I lost interest in studying.) Dennis said.

The boy related that their youngest brother John Rev, now six years old, still looks for their parents. “Akala niya tulog lang sila.” (He thinks they are just asleep.) John Rev was only three years old when the incident happened.

Their grandmother Norma Alave has been their guardian. Dennis said their aunt also supports them.

Now an incoming fourth year student of the Philippine Science High School in Davao City, Dennis said he also wants to become a journalist someday. He said that like his parents, he is not afraid. “Kasama sa trabaho nila bilang journalists ang pag-take ng risks para mabigay ang katotohanan sa tao.” (Part of their work as journalists is to take risks to be able to show the truth to people.)

But he wants to support his siblings first before pursuing a career.

Until now, the case remains unsolved. Dennis said, “Si God na bahala, mamamatay naman lahat ng tao.” (God will take care of it. Anyway all of us would die eventually.)

John Kevin Binungcal, 15, also wrote a poem, a tribute to his father.

Tulad ng pag-agos ng dagat
Ang kabutihan mo’y hindi papapigil
Gaya ng pag-ikot ng mundo
Walang pagod ka rin kung magmalasakit

Ang pagtulong mo sa amin at sa iba
Ay kadakilaan sa aking mga mata
Tapat kang naglilingkod sa Inang bayan
Sadyang kamangha-manghang katangian

Ang pagpanaw mo’y nagpapaalab
Sa aking pusong makabayan
Ang pagkatao mo’y mananatili
Sa kaluluwa ko magpakailanman.

Kevin’s father Romy Binungcal was gunned down by unidentified men on Sept. 29, 2004. Romy worked as a correspondent for two national Manila-based tabloids-Remate and Bulgar-and was the former editor of the local Mt. Samat Weekly Forum.

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