Eventually, Sherlyn stopped schooling so that her sister could continue her studies.
Linda said Sherlyn had only three subjects left before she could graduate from her course, sports science. Before Sherlyn was abducted, Linda was trying to convince her to finish her course.
Sherlyn was a sprint champion. She started her career in track-and-field when she was in second year high school.
Early on, she won in regional competitions and qualified for the national competitions. In one of those games, she was runner-up to Nancy Navalta, one of the country’s fastest runners, and had the chance to be trained by Elma Muroz.
Sherlyn qualified as a varsity scholar at the College of Human Kinetics (CHK) in UP Diliman. “She was focused on sports and on her studies,” Asher said.
During her days at the university, Sherlyn would run around the university’s oval early morning. Like any disciplined athlete, she never got tired of practice and workouts.
At UP, Sherlyn became a student leader. She was a member of the Beta Lambda Kappa Sorority and was elected CHK college representative in 1999.
A close friend and fellow student leader, Nerve Macaspac, said Sherlyn was popular in her college. “Fellow varsity players would always look for She whenever they had problems in academics, in sports and even in personal matters,” he said, using Sherlyn’s nickname.
Sherlyn has a shrill voice and speaks loud, Nerve added. She has a hearty laughter and, like Karen, often uses the gay lingo “chorva.”
Sherlyn was warm to her colleagues at the University Student Council, Nerve said. “During the campaign period, many candidates would ask her to massage their backs. Most of the time, she would end up giving in to all of the requests. Each time, she would ask them, ‘Who will massage me then?’”
Sherlyn, with her STAND-UP comrades, was active in various campaigns inside the university. She was among those who were vocal against the budget cut in UP, the commercialization of education, tuition and laboratory fee increases. She also took part in the protest actions against oil-price hikes, corruption and other issues against the Estrada administration.
Nerve said Sherlyn was a good organizer. She was able to recruit many of her sorority sisters and college mates. “She was disciplined and hardworking. She was always agitated and did not easily get tired when it came to her political tasks,” Nerve said.
Being at the student council provided Sherlyn the opportunity to confront many social issues. Sherlyn led various forms of protests, Nerve said. She always encouraged other activists to integrate with the striking workers or with the peasants picketing at the Department of Agrarian Reform.
“She was one of the most active activists I know,” Nerve said.
In fact, it was while on an immersion with the picketing workers of SM North Edsa in 1999 that Sherlyn had her first taste of state repression. While the police was violently dispersing the picket, one of them took hold of Sherlyn and nearly strangled her.
“I think the SM strike immersion consolidated her as a student activist, to be more involved with the basic masses,” Nerve said.
That experience, as well as the ones before it at the university, had a profound impact on Sherlyn. Soon, she found herself among peasants in Bulacan, immersing with them in their poverty.
In a perfect world, the fate of Karen and Sherlyn never would have intertwined. But it did.
The two women did not know each other at the university. Sherlyn, who was 29 when abducted, had gotten out of UP ahead of Karen, who was 23. Although it is not yet clear when and how exactly did the two women meet, it is apparent that they were brought together to the depressed communities of Bulacan by their desire to change society.