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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!


shakira said...

Julie Pacanas(road manager of Itchyworms) sent me Laura Mejias number. Laura is said to be Tara's friend. Itchyworms according to Julie is readily committed in supporting Tara in a fund raising event for her.

I texted Laura, telling her that Bigskymind is more than willing to hold a fund raising event for Tara.

What is quite overwhelming is the fact that few artists really know Tara personally but have been moved by her tragedy that they have set aside their talent fees and in our case, bar sales, to support her.


:kvilla:ISHS1954 said...

Thank you for your comment, Shar and for the adding to the support. I do not know Tara personally myself, but this post will tell you how much I am moved by her story, too. An update to the BSM gig is now inserted into the post.

isabel said...

Thanks for the informative and moving post. And kudos to all who are reaching out to help in whatever way they can, such as Bigskymind, etc. One can only pray and hope for the best in a situation like this. May Tara, her family, and her friends -- especially Joee -- stay strong.

Ingat na lang sa lahat ng may laptop...