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Saturday, 16 August 2008

Tara Santelices and the badge of the incompetent

This name is all over Philippine blogland as I post.

Tara is a Leo. She shares my birth month and we are days apart in birth date but a generation apart in years. One other thing I believe Tara and I have in common is that we probably share the daily grind, like taking the available public transportation to bring us to necessary commitments or just simply be somewhere. On the eve of her birthday, Tara was enjoined to spend it with her friends in Manila. After the celebrations, she and a good friend, Joee (or Jooey), were bound for home in a jeepney.

Here’s the rest of Tara's story, starting with the newsfeed that I first read online. The rest are culled from countless personal blogs of Tara’s and Jooey’s friends. Please read on:

Robber shoots lady who refused to give up laptop

08/06/2008 | 08:56 AM MANILA, Philippines - A 23-year-old woman is now in critical condition after being shot in the head early Wednesday morning after she attempted to wrestle her laptop away from a thief in Cainta, Rizal. A report by radio dzBB’s Sam Nielsen said the unidentified thief used a .38 caliber pistol to shoot the victim identified by the Cainta police as Tara Santelices (not Dara Santeneces as earlier reported) of Brookside Subdivision in Cainta town. Santelices’ companion Joyce Mejias, who was riding the Marikina-bound jeepney with the victim at the time of the incident, said the suspect declared a holdup while the jeepney was moving along Felix Ave. in Cainta. But when the victim tried to wrestle back her bag containing a laptop, the assailant immediately shot her, took some of the passengers' bags and immediately fled the scene. - Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV

From one of the first blogs came an appeal for prayers:
i didn't have any idea this will be in the news..

tara hold on, many people are praying for you.. keep on fighting tarpits.. love and miss you..

happy birthday honey.. ur gift was there with you the whole day, wish you couldve seen them all...

And a comment within that post:
This morning, I received an email from a friend asking for help for Tara Santelices, a 23 year old graduate of Ateneo. She was riding a jeep along Felix Ave., Marikina when someone declared a hold-up. She did not want to let go of her belongings. The thief held a gun to her head. And fired.
Tara is currently in the ICU has been transferred to a regular room in Medical City in Ortigas. She’s _in stable condition_ still fighting for her life*.

Another of Tara's friends gave an account from the point of view of their former Filipino subject teacher, Ms. Lacsamana, after a visit to the ICU. The account is in the vernacular but the gist, as translated, is as follows:

...We were greeted with a hug by Tara's sister who was also a former student. We were then led, two at a time, to the ICU to view Tara. She could only be viewed from an adjacent room separated by a glass mirror. In this type of situation, one is overcome by a range of emotions; it is difficult and painful to see a former student in the condition that we saw Tara in: her head, covered with bandage, was swollen. She was breathing heavily through a respirator; her pupil was almost coming out because of the bullet lodged in her brain.

We spoke with her mother and we were told that she only stood a 10% chance of survival if Tara underwent surgery. The bullet used was termed "double action"**, which means smaller fragments of it are scattered throughout her brain. It will require a delicate and difficult surgery because each little fragment has to be taken out.

...At which time Joee, Tara’s bestfriend, arrived (at the ICU) and told the real story. It was Tara’s birthday on Aug. 6 and she texted Joee to meet up at Burger King on Marcos Highway. Joee was to come from CSB (College of St. Benilde) on Taft Avenue. They both agreed to wait for midnight and celebrate Tara’s birthday.

After midnight, both boarded an empty jeepney headed for Cainta (Rizal). The jeepney was stopping now and then to wait for or take in passengers, until which time a man came up and sat beside Tara at the farthest end of the jeepney. When the man was to alight, he grabbed Tara’s bag. Tara resisted but he tried to still yank the bag forcefully from her, after which Joee, seated next to Tara, heard a shot.

When Joee looked at Tara, she saw it was Tara who had been shot in the head. Joee then asked the jeepney driver to bring them to the nearest hospital. But before they could reach the nearest clinic, the driver continued to let the other passengers off one by one. It took almost an hour before they were brought to the clinic, after which the jeepney driver then left them. The clinic refused to admit Tara because it purportedly did not have the facilities to treat her. Joee had to wait for a few more moments before the nurses could help them get a cab so they could be brought to the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Hospital. And to think that at 5’2” Joee was left to carry Tara by herself…

Tara has been transferred by her family to Medical City Hospital on Ortigas Avenue. Ten days after the unforunate incident, Tara Bosch Santelices is still in the hospital fighting for her life. From the local blog scene, Tara looks like a much-loved multi-talented freespirit, being a regular at bars and the local independent music scene as guitarist for her bands, Stormy and, of late, Saffron Speedway. From another of Tara's friend's blog, we read that Tara — an AB Political Science major from the Ateneo de Manila University — dreamt of working for the United Nations one day. At the time of the incident, Tara was working for Upland Marketing Foundation, Inc., an NGO working with social enterprises.

More than any other cliques, however, it is the local independent music scene that has since been active at helping spread the word about what happened to Tara, chipping in time, music and good vibes in the many fund-raising gigs they have put up around the Metro in the last two weeks. They need your help by way of supporting the gigs and Tara's fellow musicians who have bonded to help defray the mounting cost of hospital expenses.

08/17/08 New scheduled fund raising gig at the BigSkyMind with RockEd on Sept 1, 2008. Details to be announced soon. Map to the event here.

Another friend of Tara's gives details of a temporary bank account to which any help may be directed, and I quote:

The temporary bank account is under Anne Marie F. Santelices, Banco de Oro, SA 2140-062201. For direct cash donations, please proceed to the ICU Waiting Room of the Medical City (Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City). Please look for Joee Mejias or Lila Santelices.

The above source also stated that Tara's parents decided not to push through with surgery.

Other forthcoming schedules in the Metro are as follows, starting with one at Route 196 of tonight's gig MAP to Route 196 (Women's Music Art and Poetry), 7pm onwards. Route 196 is along Blue Ridge on Katipunan Avenue.

August 14 -ROUTE 196/ Cambio, Shift, Gasulina, Hija, Chillitees, Project 2, South Super Hi-way. August 16 - MOGWAI CUBAO X/ Radioactive Sago Project, JuanPabloDream Chilitees, Cambio, Shift, Gasulina September 4 - SAGUIJO/ Peryodiko, Nicole and Carlo (rest of line up TBA)

Double action **Interestingly, I came upon a reference to "double action", wanting to know more about it where a gun enthisiast's site refers to it as the type Col. Jeff Cooper calls "the badge of the incompetent."

  • Tara's image (top) is from a grab of Speedway Saffron's 2nd Anniversary gig at mag:net Katipunan, 2007. Image will bring you to the YouTube source. Click to view this and other Speedway Saffron videos.
  • The double action target photo is from bothenook's Flickr page. Thank you for your permission, Hal B. You rock.
  • Ms. Lacsamana's account can be read in the original Tagalog here. Thank you,
  • Translation of Ms Lacsamana's account from Tagalog to English is by this author.
  • Prayer for Tara is from
  • Read more about Tara and the incident on her friend's site, nancydrewandme.
  • Donor details from
  • MAP to Route 196 details can be found here at onairstudio's site.
  • Other concerts, poetry readings and tribute gig schedules may be found at
  • Attribution to Col. Jeff Cooper's quote is from Stephen Camp at
  • Other blog entries on WordPress
  • 16/08/08 Read the first broadsheet article to feature Tara's story by Cathy Guballa .
  • 17/08/08 *MAP to Route 196 gave the update on Tara's condition.
  • 19/08/08 Good friend in real life, senor enrique, was moved to write about Tara in his blog and also suggests some situational tips. Thank you, senor enrique!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Airports: blackhole for laptops

Three friends are attending the Paris Cinema International Film Festival (6th edition, 2008), the last of the three boarding her plane just about now (Saturday morning, PHI time). She is set to join our good friend Aureaus Solito, a panelist at the Festival and director of two of about 30 entries, Pisay and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, and Margie Templo (Arkeo Films), an invited workshop participant. More here.
To travelers like my three friends, planning, packing, departing and arriving aren't always pleasant experiences. They have so far either been lucky with not losing important items, or have constant presence of mind to pack or bring only the essential. However, in most cases, the essential are almost always of value, not just to them, but to others. Such as portables, aka the ubiquitous laptops.
A recent survey in the U.S. says that more than 10,000 laptops are lost OR STOLEN in airports EVERY WEEK. PC World already wrote about this survey on June 30, 2008:
...Airports, along with hotels and parked cars. are places where laptops can be easily stolen, said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on its Web site. The confusion of going through security checkpoints can make it easy for travelers to lose track of their laptops, making it "fertile ground for theft," the FTC said.
The FTC recommends people treat laptops "like cash." Like a wad of money, a laptop in public view -- like the backseat of the car or at the airport -- could attract unwanted attention. The FTC also recommends using tracking devices like Absolute Software's LoJack, which can help track down a stolen laptop by reporting its location once it is connected to the Internet. Lenovo last week announced it would offer the LoJack option in its upcoming ThinkPad SL series laptops.
The survey was made by the Ponemon Institute and paid for by Dell to be used for its laptop data protection service for business travellers . (View the report here.)

Richard Stiennon, a security service industry expert, picked up the survey in his blog, and offers three suggestions on how to avoid losing the lappie — and other items of value:

1. Place your laptop in the first bin you put on the belt of the X-ray machine. You should put your laptop bag in front of it.
Put the bin with your shoes, belt, purse, wallet, etc. right behind your laptop. And your carry-on bag last. The first thing you should do on the other side is put your laptop in its bag before the other luggage crashes into it and dumps it on the floor. Your other stuff separates it from the person behind you and in front of you.
2. Mark your laptop! Put a sticker on it. I know people hate to do this. But you should identify your laptop in such a way that you can quickly identify it. There are lots of Dell computers our there. I have almost picked up the wrong laptop on many occasions. DO NOT TAPE YOUR BUSINESS CARD TO YOUR LAPTOP. Do not become a target by letting potential laptop thieves know just how valuable your laptop may be. My favorite marker for my Dell Latitude is the white Apple sticker I got with my iPod.
3. If you lose your laptop contact the TSA immediately. Call the airport. Take action. I bet in 99% of the cases you can get it back.
Unfortunately, recovery is low at 33%, according to the survey*. Besides, given the hassle of going through stringent security regulations at airports in general, keeping within budget and fare rates, plus time constraints, travelers are not afforded the luxury of lodging complaints, much less the space to contemplate retracing their movements.

Stiennon ends his blog asking where the recovered laptops end up. Interesting query, but before we even get there (as this is something for the authorities to think about), I hope all mobile users will keep in mind to put into practice these simple and practical steps.

REFERENCES Graphics: krvilla.08

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Wired: Macs in Damascus, Hasan the local 'Mac Guru''s story, The Mac Guru of Damascus in the Case of the Missing Laptops, is about Eric Umansky's experience losing his MacBook and his fiancée's MBP in Syria to a break in.
Before my fiancée and I headed to Syria to study Arabic, we often heard there was one advantage to living in a police state: almost no crime. So it came as a surprise when Sara and I returned to our Damascus apartment one night after a dinner party to find splintered wood in the hallway — wood that had once been part of our front door. I made a beeline for the living room to check on our most valuable possessions: my MacBook and Sara's MacBook Pro. Both gone.

Eric, the author who wrote his story on his recovered laptop, is a contributing writer for various publications and a columnist for Slate. He wrote that it wasn't the authorities who eventually led him to the thief almost two days after the crime, but a contact to an unlikely fellow: a local Mac technician.

A friend had put us in touch with Bassel Al Hassan, apparently the one guy in Damascus who services Macs. A few days later we shared a meal with Hassan, a soft-spoken man in his mid-thirties. "Yours were the seventh and eighth stolen Macs I've recovered," he said.

Eric said Al Hasan called up computer shops in town not telling the shop owners about the stolen Macs. When one of the shop owners confirmed having two units in his possession which he paid $200 for, Hasan informed the owner that the computers were hot items. The shop owner then met up with Eric and his fiancée at a street corner in our neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Eric wrote that all Bassel Al Hasan wanted in exchange for helping them recover the Macs was permission to 'friend' Eric on Facebook.>/p> Whole story here.