First Person | ‘To my father, this is for you’

Slain lawyer Ben Ramos and daughter Gabrielle’s last selfie together (Photo courtesy of author)


November 6, 2018. Fourth year, first sem. It was a school day when it happened. After receiving the news, I went completely blank. I immediately went home, only to see my father’s lifeless body with some bullet holes on it. I did not know what to feel at that moment. What they did to my father was ruthless. It was a terrible death. He only served the people and made sure they knew their rights. But how else could the government take advantage of the people if they are educated? My mother, including her colleagues and other progressive lawyers and organizations, are also being threatened by the military.

So, this is what it takes to serve and fight for the oppressed. This is how brutal our government is. This is the war the president himself is very proud about. War against the people. What a joke. How disgusting. Shame!

It was very traumatic. I was crumbling down, losing hope. My world fell apart knowing that I am never going to see my father again, nor hear his lectures about what is truly happening to this country. I never really shared how I felt during those times to anyone. Not even to my family or closest friends. They thought I was handling it well, but the truth is:

I was terrified. I became paranoid to the point that I never wanted to leave my mother’s side for the fear that she would be next. I did not want to go back to school. I did not want to talk to anyone about it because I lost my trust. My mood was swinging hard that even I myself thought I was going crazy. I was talking to myself when I was alone. I cried but I couldn’t feel a thing. I stared at my father’s dead body for hours everytime I got the chance. I was totally breaking down. Secretly.

But suddenly, I realized that I am not the only one affected. I still have my family and they need me. So, I picked myself up and composed myself. I cant give up now. We already lost my father. I can’t lose my sanity as well.

“I will be absent for two weeks”, I kept repeating to myself. “I have to catch up.”

I still had an upcoming exam and a thesis presentation. I still had to comply the activities and assignments for my other subjects. I AM A GRADUATING STUDENT. I HAVE TO GRADUATE. For my family. For Tatay.

I balanced academics with mourning. I cant even recall how I managed to do that. I cried my eyes out, but did acads afterwards. I had to be strong for my family as I know that they are also trying.

And now, finally, I am here.

To my father, this is for you. Thank you so much for convincing me to go to UP. You have always been, and always will be my inspiration. I will continue your fight. I will forever be thankful to God for giving me a father like you. I love you forever.

To my family, friends, and teachers, thank you for believing in me. Thank you for packing me up with incredible life lessons and for supporting me throughout this tough journey. Kayo ang naging sandigan ko.

To SAMASA UPV, i may not have been an active member but you still treated me as your own and were still there to reach out and to help. Thank you so much. Babawi ako sa inyo at babawi ako sa masa.

To this Institution, thank you for opening my eyes to reality and for redirecting my path to service, especially to the marginalized and opressed. My next goal is to give back to this country.

To everyone who believed in me (and to everyone who didn’t), this is for you.

Gabrielle Thea I. Ramos
BS (Biology)
University of the Philippines Visayas

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Gabrielle is the daughter of slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos.

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