Coping with the Loss of a Journalist Parent

Healing process

Jacqueline Ruiz, psychologist of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) that handled the psychotherapy sessions said most of the children have accepted what happened to their father or mother.

Ruiz told Bulatlat though, “Ang mga bago, sila ang hindi pa nakakapag-open up. (Only those who are new have not been able to open up their feelings yet.) They are still in the grieving stage.” She was referring to the families of journalists who were killed just last year.

Ruiz related that it was difficult for the children to share what they were feeling. Most of them tend to isolate themselves, Ruiz said. “Some are confused, even asking themselves ‘Masama ba nanay/tatay ko kaya pinatay?” (Was my mother/father killed because he/she was bad?)

Ruiz said children at younger ages find it harder to understand the situation.

Such is the case of Rosenda Kalayaan Sanchez, 12. She was only seven years old when his father Romy, a radio broadcaster and Bayan-Ilocos secretary general, was shot dead on March 9, 2005.

Malungkot kami nang mamatay siya. Hindi ko po alam kung bakit,” (We were sad that he was killed. I do not know why he was killed.) the girl told Bulatlat.

Asked to describe her father, Rosenda said, “Mabait siya sa amin. Lagi kaming naglalaro.

Kung may problema kami, lagi siyang nandoon.” (He was very good to us. We always play. Whenever we had a problem he was always there for us.)

The healing process takes long, Ruiz said. “Mananatili sa kanila ang ganoong karanasan, hindi makakalimutan hanggang paglaki.” (Their experience would remain with them until they are old.)

Ruiz said that explaining the context of the spate of killings helped in making the children understand the situation.

“Nalaman nila na pare-pareho [sila] ng karanasan. Sabi nila, ‘Hindi pala ako nag-iisa, mayroon pa palang iba,” (The children learned that they have the same experiences. They realized that they are not alone, there are others with the same experience.) said Ruiz. “Ito ang nag-bind sa kanila. (This is what binds them.) They draw strength from one another.”

Some of the children, Ruiz said, have come to understand better. “Some of them know why human rights violations happen. They know that corruption in government is rampant. They have become proud of the profession of their parents.”

They all want justice, said Ruiz. “Kung hindi makulong, sana hindi na dumami pa ang bilang ng mga pinatay na journalists.” (If [the perpetrators] are not sent to prison, at least we hope that the number of slain journalists does not increase anymore.) (

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