When I learned about the brutal death of a former student in Eng 2, I cried. I remember her.

Yesterday I just finished work, reading on World Economic Crisis, flooding in Vietnam and Cambodia, Thailand pledging scheme, bloating world population and food scarcity, Anti-Wall Street campaigns against Capitalism and all that news that could really desensitize you because of long exposure to negative vibes, when I saw former student Tin’s FB status that the “woman” dumped near IRRI (where I stayed a few weeks ago) was none other than Given Grace Cebanico.

I cried because she’s my former student, a part of our UPLB community, a fellow woman, and most of all, a human being. If I could cry nonstop watching a tragic film, how much more in the face of this pointless violence.

I imagined meeting the criminals. I shall sit them in a classroom, tell them the story of humanity, how from savagery we have supposedly progressed because we have realized the beauty of life despite the challenges of living, how from decade after decade we have witnessed the worst crimes against humanity dwindle because we are thinking creatures, we are not plants, we have senses, we could be hurt but we can assess pain and get over it and live on. And then maybe, still with a sober mood, I would usher in Given, introduce her to them, and say, this is Given Grace, I know she has a really weird name, right Given? (and like on our first day of class, she’d laugh again and say, Ma’am naman e, hahaha), I offered to call her Grace because I don’t want to call her in a boring past participle, but she insisted because that’s how persistent she is, sobrang kulit na bata, like when she presented her topic to me, something Biblical, my eyes rolled and asked, Given, where will you get your sources? You know what she did? She presented other topics such as the History of the Creation in Bible less the metaphysical aspects of the Holy Spirit, scouted for sources from different libraries and consulted with me almost every time the  7/8am class ends, because her faith is unwavering, do you know what unwavering means, Mr Criminal/s? It means firm. Determined. Dedicated (and then of course, shy Given would giggle). Our class is very early so most of her classmates would stare at me like a zombie, but Given would always look at me with a Hermione Granger attention and recite and ask and comment and answer my questions even if I’m tired calling her, and she’d speak in broken English so she’d switch to Filipino but I’d cut her, English, Given! Speak in English! then she would pause, then struggle to communicate her ideas because at the start of the sem, I had oriented them that the English language should not intimidate them since we can conquer English and turn it to our advantage: Filipino English.

Then I imagine looking straight into the eyes of the criminals, while holding the lady’s hand. This is Given Grace. She’s a given grace to her family. She’s my former student, one of the best, she got an uno for the research paper; she’s from UPLB, she has the makings of a successful UPLB alumnae, because like other teachers, I made it a point that I share with them all the skills and insights I learned from UP and from the harsh “outside world” because I wanted them, each. one. of them. to succeed; I made it a point to meet her, like what I did with other diligent students, for consultations because they are sacred investments for a better Philippines. Because I know, my time spent with her will NOT be wasted, my time reading and improving her writing will NOT be wasted.

Finally, this is Given Grace. She’s a human being, like you, who’s given a chance to experience life if only for a moment.  She’s not just some nameless, unidentified “woman” that you’d toy with and throw in a canal, for the media to photograph. No. no. no. no. She’s destined to have a name, with a death more dignified than what you planned for her.

With such short life, she managed to enjoy it, this happy happy child. I remember her face when I was giving them this out-of-syllabus talk on existentialism blues, about how else do you enjoy your short life full of routines, but explore it and live a life of adventure and happiness, and live everyday as if it’s the last. You don’t waste your time in this planet hurting people, treating human beings like objects, taking a life that you didn’t even give, taking a future that you didn’t even work on… unless of course you are a moron, or to use a friend’s term, savage.

Anyway, I now wipe my tears which wouldn’t stop flowing as I write this. I would like to believe she’s in a happier state now. I don’t believe in the supernatural but last night, when my sister and I were talking about this incident, her laptop went black and on again to show something like this, without the clouds:

creepy, but happy hello?

I believe in the laws and justice of the universe. Whatever  happens, you criminals will get what you deserve, here or afterlife. That’s a given.

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81 Comments on "Given"

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Eva
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Hi. I don’t know you and Given personally, but your blog post is very touching. I, too, am praying for justice.

ai
Guest

Thank you, Ms Eva..

moxx
Guest

Hi, Ma’am Ai. I may not know Given personally, but she’s a fellow iska. I pray so hard that justice be served.

ai
Guest

Yes, she’s our fellow Iska.

mike
Guest

I’ll pray for her too.

Monica
Guest

Hello Ai, this is your former colleague at the UPLB humanities dept. I can Imagine how it feels to lose a student under such violent circumstances. I feel very sad and angry at what happened. Thank you for the touching blog post.

ai
Guest

Hi, Monica! It’s weird that we get in touch in this context, but yeah, I’m sure every teacher would know how it feels. Thanks for dropping by.

Monica
Guest

I saw her fb profile picture and was heartbroken. She was just a child–if I saw her on the street I wouldn’t even think she was a college student. I am angered by the fact that despite enjoying more rights in this society, women still live in a world that is unsafe for them. Despite having a brilliant future ahead of her, a woman like Given is powerless compared to these men who murdered her. If there is a God out there I do wish He takes care of her.

ai
Guest

Yeah! She is a child! Harrassment of women in the 21st century always anger me, too, like we never moved on from the 50s and beyond. And your last statement, I am so with you on that.

Jeff
Guest

Miss Ai…..how sad…..kamuzta po!

ai
Guest

Hi, Jeff, kamusta rin.. I feel a bit better after writing about it.

melissa
Guest

i don’t know given grace(i like her name, given grace…it’s music to my ears) personally, but as a fellow iska…i don’t know…i just cried.
justice for given grace cebanico.
rest in peace.

ai
Guest

Hello, melissa.. like she always does, she would’ve giggled at that compliment on her name. justice, indeed.

Melody
Guest

Hi Ma’am Ai, sobrang touching po ng sinulat niyo about kay Given. I don’t know her personally, hindi ko din alam kung naging classmate ko na siya sa large class o di kaya nasalubong sa campus pero sa sinulat niyo po nalaman ko po kung gaano siya kabait at napakalapit sa Diyos. Nakakalungkot yung nangyari sa kanya. 🙁 Justice for Given.

ai
Guest

Hello, Melody. Mmm, yeah, marami pa namang mababait sa mundo. Sayang lang nabawasan ng isa.

Karl Mopia
Guest

hi maam ai.. nice article! orgmate ko siya although grad nako nung sumali siya.. u really are one of the few bloggers that catch my attention.. lupit pala ni given uno sa research paper! kainggit.. hehe

ai
Guest

Hi there, Karl! Wow, thanks ha… yeah, marami namang malulupit talaga na comsci sa elbi, super hands down ako sainyo

Pipo
Guest

Very moving. Justice for Given.

ai
Guest

Thank you so much, Pipo. Justice indeed.

Em Battreal
Guest

Hi, Ma’am Ai!

I do not know Given personally, but I was deeply affected with what happened to her. I know in my heart that she is in heaven now.

ai
Guest

hello, em… thanks for dropping by. Thanks for the thoughts.

Elisha
Guest

Hi Ma’am Ai! Naiyak ako. Haha. Taga-ENG2 nyo rin ako eh, classmate ko rin siya sa section na yan. ): Justice for Given.

ai
Guest

Hi, Elisha!Yeah, you’re in the same class! Naku, naiyak ka… mmm thanks for the message.

juanrepublic
Guest

This is very touching Ma’am! How I wish you were one of my Professors in College. I’m sure Given is smiling to you from up there.
The once peaceful and laid back eLBi has changed. But we must not live in fear. Padayon!

ai
Guest

Thank you, juanrepublic. I wish you joined one of my many classes, too. That’s right, this should not make us fearful. It should give us more courage. Thanks for dropping a message!

Kei Tan
Guest

Thanks for this Ai. I feel a bit better also after reading this. Stay safe.

ai
Guest

You, too, lakwatchera. Basta, the universe will conspire to get them all and deal with them in the toughest way imaginable.

Jess Lamzon
Guest

Thanks Ma’am Ai. I, too, don’t know her personally. I’m hoping and praying that justice will be served.

ai
Guest

Hi Jess! Hello,hello. Justice will prevail, I know.

cecille
Guest

Hi Ma’am Ai! I’m glad I’ve come across your blog. I don’t know Given personally and I sympathize with her family. Why do good people die young? Whoever did this to Given, you think you’re happy now but I’m sure you’ll rot in hell!

ai
Guest

Hello there, Cecille! Glad you stumbled upon this page. You’re right. Till then could she rest in peace.

KJ or Tin
Guest
Hi, Ma’am Ai. I was the one who brought the news to you. I decided to delete the post with her name, because after the shock and rationality came in, I realized that I shouldn’t have identified the victim of such sensitive case. I have known Given in high school. I was in my senior year and I remember her as the shy, but cheery girl in our Literati Club and Dance Troupe. We had a theater production together, and she was among our group’s favorite because of the sunshine that she brings with her smile. [As I write this… Read more »
ai
Guest

Hi, KJ. I don’t think you have to apologize for your writing. You write well (maybe because you read well). I see she’s been cheerful ever since. That’s nice to know.. I do wish that we, the LB community, can help take away the pain, which we ourselves feel.

As for justice, hah! We are getting there.

Estie
Guest

You know, this is really the very first time I replied to a blog post. My being a mother instantly answered my question “Why I was so affected to what happened to Given, and your post somehow made me “feel lighter now”, because what you have posted were the words I wanted to say, but hesistant to say because I know if I will say or write those words particularly for those culprits I will surely added *#@*#*@ which I know would not make God neither Given happy. Thanks Ma’am Ai for your blog.

ai
Guest

hi, thank you so much for reading. To be honest, I was raging and crying while I wrote this and I had to stop a couple of times because like you I would’ve filled it with curses. as in putangina. especially now that details of what happened are coming to the surface one by one.

Estie
Guest

Hi, it’s now becoming a habit for me to drop here, nakakagaan talaga ng pakiramdam mabasa ang sinulat mo kay Given likewise mga messages ng iba pang mga repliers. I just want to think that God made me came across your blog on that day na sobrang lungkot ko talaga sa nangyari.God Bless !!!

ai
Guest

awww thank you so much, estie. I was sad for a week. and decided i have to move on…

thank you, thank you, for dropping by again (and again?):)

Lem Lamigo
Guest

Thank you for sharing precious personal memories of her as a student. She is indeed a Given Grace to her family and to the UPLB community as well. We will never forget her.

ai
Guest

We won’t indeed. Thanks for the message,Lem..

alex jordan
Guest

Very touching… I can’t believe it that I’m crying for someone I don’t know. The last time I cried was when my sister died 5 years ago. Justice should be served for Given Grace. I’m praying for her and her family. — A fellow iskolar ng bayan

ai
Guest

Alex, that’s a very long time of not crying! (Sorry to hear about your sister…) Thank you for the message, fellow iskolar ng bayan.

Felson
Guest
As a former student of UPLB (di kasi ako nakagrad sa UPLB eh..) there’s a sadness flicks me when I heard the news about this girl yesterday, then I check her account in FB and saw her innocent face, I remember my college days there in LB and I felt pain, nanghinayang talaga ako para sa kanya at sa family nya..i even prayed for her last night even i don’t know her. Your blog Ms. Ai really touched my heart.. Thank you for sharing it with us. For Given, “You were born because you are going to be important to… Read more »
ai
Guest

I like that quote, too. She IS an innocent kid. I don’t even want to start thinking about her family again because it really breaks my heart to imagine.

Thanks for reading, fellow UPLB student.

Rayz
Guest

I don’t know Given personally, but I am an alumna and news like this breaks my heart. 🙁

How could LB – the most serene and peaceful place I know would have such violence? How could a young lady full of dreams and aspirations and love of life and of God be taken away in such a way? 🙁 This is just so depressing. 🙁 But what could we do? We can only accept that it’s reality. Sad, but true. 🙁

Let’s fight for justice.
JUSTICE for GIVEN!

ai
Guest

We will see this justice soon, I know and I believe. It’s depressing especially to the ladies of her age in the University. And, yeah, such crimes in UPLB have been unheard of for the longest time.

“How could a young lady full of dreams and aspirations and love of life and of God be taken away in such a way?” –exactly my questions, Rayz

Patricia Bacay
Guest

Ma’am Ai,

Reading this made me cry. What happened to Given really broke my heart and I hardly slept the night the news spread.

I hope everyone reads this especially Given’s family and friends. I’ll repost this on my Facebook wall, Ma’am. I hope you wouldn’t mind.

I miss you, Ma’am Ai. Take care always.

ai
Guest

hello, dear Patricia. Please take care of you. I don’t mind.. thanks for sharing and reading.

Carson
Guest

I had goosebumps reading this Ma’am Ai. I hope she can read this, wherever she is.

ai
Guest

thank you so much, carson. i hope so, too.

Alesson
Guest
Ma’am Ai, First of all I hope you would not mind me sharing your blog in my FB page..I already did it anyhow without your permission. thank you na agad. I think I’ve already read the blog 3x but it is always the same..lagi akong naiiyak. Maybe because I am a father, or maybe I am from Binangonan where she was hailed or maybe I have a daughter who is also a UP graduate or just maybe one of the thousands out there saddened by this senseless act. I also hope that by posting your blog in my page will… Read more »
ai
Guest

Hi Alesson, aww, thank you for reading the post. thank you for posting… thank you for the comment on my blog. this is all for given.

Pamella
Guest
hi ma’am ai! even though i’m currently in a place far from elbi, i can feel the pain the whole UPLB community is experiencing right now. when i learned what had happened to the victim, Given Grace, i just can’t help but feel sad and outraged at the same time. how can they (the criminals) do such a thing to another human being? they ripped her off of everything this life has in store for her. it’s just so wrong, so unfair, so immoral, so unacceptable. who the heck are they? even their lowly lives are nothing compared to the… Read more »
ai
Guest

hi, pam. thanks for sharing your thoughts here… it’s really nice that justice has been served, and rather quickly huh. that’s how persistent given could be, id like to think.

you take care of yourself there in korea.

Jay-r
Guest
Nung unang lumabas ang balita sa abs-cbnnews.com, sobrang nalungkot na agad ako. May pinatay at ni-rape daw at tinapon ang bangkay sa may IRRI. Kahabag-habag na, litrato pa lang. Pinangalanan yung babae. Given Grace Cebanico. UPLB ComSci student. Lalo po akong nanlumo. Isang kapwa iskolar pala. Sobrang saklap ng mga pangyayari. Parang naririnig ko siyang nagmamakaawa at umiiyak sa mga damuhong walang awang nilapastangan a ng kanyang karapatan at pagkatao. Kung ang pagkawala ng isang mahal sa buhay ay napakasakit, mas masakit lalo siguro sa pamilya ni Given dahil sa mga dinanas niya bago siya namatay. Nakikiramay ako sa pamilya… Read more »
ai
Guest

Hmmm alam mo, ako, mataas ang tolerance sa mga tao. Madaling umintindi. Kasi lahat ng tao may pinagdadaanan. Pero ito, sila, hindi ko rin sila maintindihan. Ayoko sila intindihin.

Salamat, Jay-R

Connie De Villa
Guest

Hi Ms Ai,

I don’t know you so as Given, but your article touch my heart and I can’t stop crying because I am a mother. My deep symphaty goes to Given’s parents. Among the people who felt sad of her tragic faith; her parents are the one who suffered so much pain for the lost of a so dear child.
And to Given’s murderer, these are my words for you: “I know you are not human, “Kayo ay talamak na sakit na CANCER ng lipunan, you don’t even have the right to exist on earth”

ai
Guest

Hello Connie,

Oh, I’m sure a mother like you would be in wrath or grief or both.. I realized from comment, maybe I should have said, “She is a human being, unlike you…”

marvi paz
Guest
HI Ms, Ai, Im so touched with what you have written about Given. I was her former high school teacher and just like you, I got a special memory of Given. I could remember her as a sweet student who never fails to smile every time you come across her. And with that, it really hurt me learning that she had a brutal death. In high school, after they graduate, we, her teachers only wish to see these kids graduate and be successful. We could even track them down until now (through FB). That’s why it really hurt me a… Read more »
ai
Guest

Oh hello, co-teacher, Marvi,

I’m glad to hear the same sentiments from another teacher of hers. Thanks for sharing my thoughts, how we like to see them young minds reach whatever goal they set. She definitely left an immortal mark on me, if only she knew.. I was browsing her FB wall the other day and many of her quotes are riveting like “Live everyday as if you’re dying.” That’s her optimism and faith in life, inspiring us all who’d care to listen to her short life story.

Josh
Guest

I heard the story in the news. I, of course, got scared. I felt very angry against those criminals. But since I read this, I felt different… something touched my heart. I never would have known that this lady was as good as how u described her.. in and out. Your blog should be shown in the television for others to know what life she has had. well, may she rest in peace now. God bless her family and you as well.

ai
Guest

Hello, Josh..wow, thanks. Thank you for dropping by. May she rest in peace indeed.

eng
Guest

mas mabigat to sa lahat ng nabasa ko, tumatagos…
di ako makaget over kung bakit may mga ganung klaseng tao.
Malapit lang sa bahay namin ang bahay ni Given pero di ko magawang pumunta dahil baka di ko makayanan ang emosyon.

I’m really praying na masaya na si Given ngayon at di na sya nasasaktan…

ai
Guest

Eng! alam mo naisip kita sa kanya.

Louise
Guest

i don’t know her personally, but when I watched and heard the story in the news i found myself crying…

JUSTICE should be served for Given Grace.. I’m praying for her and her family too..

ai
Guest

Aww, it’s nice to know many people who don’t know her personally were moved to tears or in felt for her…it’s nice to know that many people have their Humanity in them. Thanks for the comment post, Louise.

tofi
Guest

nakakalungkot talaga ang nangyari sa kanya ma’am Ai, masyadong brutal at hindi makatao. nanood ako ng mga vid from abs and gma news online. and then there is this one moment the criminal said: ” hindi ako yung pumatay, siya (pointing to the guard) sabi ko sa kanya wag nya patayin, BABAE yan.” ang shit lang eh!!! Tapos na, napatay na nila, nagahasa na nila, sinira na nila yung pangarap nung tao tapos saka nila maiisip yun kasi asa selda na sila? well, may their soul rot in there.

ai
Guest

You’re right, Tofi. I’ve seen that video, too. After we’ve mourned and calmed ourselves, we see these idiots, we will certainly be enraged again. But, I don’t want to waste time thinking about them.

Nanira sila ng pangarap ng isang tao at sampu ng kaanak nya.

Krista
Guest

As much as I loathe the animal killers and mourn with everyone who knew or loved her personally, I think she gave UPLB a great gift as testimonies of her life were publicized (yours being one of the best). People were so inspired with how positive, kind, and happy she is. That said you don’t need to be famous or popular to move people – Just like Given you just have to live according to what you believe to be right. Hope we can all be like her. 🙂

ai
Guest

Krista, I’ve been thinking about your insights, and id like to think you are right. remember that line/quote on her FB wall (which was blogged about by others)? You were born in this world to be important to someone… That’s her purpose i think, the ones you mentioned. ANd yeah, it’s wonderful to know that anyone can move so many people, if she chooses to.

Jedo
Guest
This is such a fitting tribute to Given and her indomitable spirit. And you know what, Ms. Ai? The thing that stands out to me the most in all of this is that Given, during her final moments, fought back. The thought of her fighting for her life fills me up with sorrow, but it also gives me a reason to be proud of her, knowing that she bravely faced the possibility of death and simply refused to lay down and submit. That is the ultimate proof of her unyielding will. By the way, I wrote a blog post for… Read more »
ai
Guest

thanks for the comment, jedo. nice post you got, too.

Salcedo
Guest

I really cried over her even I don’t know her personally, She live a good life that will inspire anyone .

ai
Guest

thanks for dropping by

janette
Guest

i still question the reason for the hour of pain she had to suffer. i question why it has to be her.and i am hoping that someday i’d understand why the universe conspire to bring the worst unimaginable pain a mother could experience.

ai
Guest

🙁

hay, the pain. if only we, the living, could forget that pain. especially for us whose imagination is extreme. yknow what, janette, i also questioned Makiling. She who protects the town. Her spirit is supposed to be all over the place. She has protected you and me and all our friends and I couldnt think why take her away.

Marla
Guest

What happened to Given is just heart-breaking. I don’t know her but when I read the story I just can’t help but cry. Justice will be given to her, if not here on earth, then in the hands of the Almighty.

ai
Guest

Hi, Marla. ‘in the hands of the almighty’ is exactly what she believed in, and she deserves it.

eng
Guest

totoo nga:) ang daming bumisita sa blog site mo because of this post.ang dami ng comments. :’)bakit naman naisip mo ko sa kanya? 🙂

ai
Guest

makulit! from rizal. diligent. happy kid. 🙂

and yeah, the comments from people whom i dont know particularly amaze me.

An observer
Guest

Given the recent events in LB and Subic, sometimes, I wish for a Brian Mills type of guy, to settle the score, to avenge the fallen ones. But sadly, we live in a world where knights don’t exist.

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