The Life Story of Tara Santelices: A Life of Beauty and Struggle  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Her real name was Antonia Marina “Tara” Santelices. She was an artist, an activist, a very good friend and student. She studied AB Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University. Tara had a wonderful life when all of a sudden on the eve of her 23rd birthday on the way home, she was shot on the head by a jeepney holdapper. That person was Orlando del Rosario, who eventually caught up with karma and died when he he fired at police personnel of the Antipolo police who were about to arrest him for delivering illegal drugs on MH del Pilar St., San Isidro village.

Yesterday Antonia Marina “Tara” Santelices succumbed to cardiac arrest at around 4am. It ended her struggle to live again the life that she once happily lived. BUt for me it is not the sad death that should be remembered but the beauty of her life and the inspiration that he gave everyone of us.

I was suppose to meet Tara because I am the webmaster of the Upland Marketing Foundation, Inc. (UMFI) and Tara was the newly appointed person to handle the website. It was supposed to be the date after her birthday that we would met and then I was shocked to hear that she was shot (August 6) and in comatose.

She was shot when she refused to hand over her bag that contained a laptop computer while riding an Angono-bound jeepney on Imelda Avenue in Cainta, Rizal. The bullet fragmented inside the head of Santelices. Her friends, however, said that her condition has significantly improved. Nobody expected that just weeks before her next birthday she will finally face the shocking truth of death.

Before I go on what had happened and how life could really be full of surprises here is the song that I had asked to be played at my death but would like to dedicate to Tara Santelices. To Tara's friends, parents, love ones and all her acquaintances and those who like me are inspired by her, here is I Am The Wind from Castlevania Symphony of the Night.

A Political Science graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, Santelices is an independent film director and a guitarist of music bands Saffron Speedway and Scarlet Tears - passions that she juggles with her work as a research head of a non-government organization. Her friends described her as an active person with a heart for the environment and an artistic flair.

"She’s a very well-rounded person who is active in a lot of involvements," Tara's mother told GMANews.TV last year.

"She’s very artistic person. She is fond of reading books, she designs clothes and she performs with a band. At the same time, she is also an environmentalist," her friends adde

The spirited young woman in the photographs is a far cry from the pale, feeble form connected to a ventilator, with a long stitch on the scalp to show where a bullet had entered.

That fateful night changed everything for Tara. Based on witnesses accounts here is what happened:

Tara and Joee were heading home in a Rizal-bound jeepney after an early birthday celebration. The girls were seated next to the entrance.

On Imelda Avenue in Cainta, a man seated beside the girls pulled out a gun, told the driver to stop, and declared a holdup.

A brief struggle over Tara’s bag occurred as the man was about to disembark. He fired the gun, hitting Tara on the left side of her forehead, and fled.

Tara still managed to tell Joee, “I’m okay, I’m okay.”

But despite Joee’s pleas, the driver proceeded on his normal route and most of the passengers got off at their respective stops.

He dropped off Tara and Joee at a clinic, but it was unequipped to respond to the emergency. Joee had to take Tara in a taxi to nearby Amang Rodriguez hospital.

The cold-blooded crime, and the apathy displayed by the witnesses, outraged many as the story spread. But just as many marveled at Tara’s will to survive.

Bullet fragments are still embedded in the left side of Tara’s brain, her parents having decided against the life-threatening surgery required to remove them. Thus, she is beset by seizures akin to asthma attacks because of the lack of oxygen in her brain.

“This is typical in those with brain damage,” Anne Santelices, Tara’s weary but willful mother, quoted doctors as saying.

Anne fears that the seizures will continue, but through all the complications, family members have faithfully taken turns attending to Tara.

“Last August, her head was still fully bandaged and it was bloodied because of the open wound. It’s already a miracle that she’s alive, but her recovery has been surprising,” Anne said.

And Tara has started to regain comprehension, her visitors believe.

Indeed, Anne said she had observed Tara gazing at family members and occasionally looking at the TV set.

Tara’s best friend, Joyce Elaine “Joee” Mejias, has brought an iPod with speakers to her hospital room, and her other high school classmates in Assumption Antipolo have recorded get-well messages.

Recounted Joee’s sister, Laura Elaine Mejias, on the phone: “Joee told her, ’Tara, if you can hear me, move your fingers.’ And she did. It happened three times.”

Indeed life is a surprise and is indeed too short we never know what will happen. Tara you will be missed for sure.

You can visit Tara Santelices blog at

Other blogs who supported Tara and gave prayers... (there might be more)

Tara Santelices Has Passed Away: Paalam Kaibigan

Ang Istorya ni Tara Santelices at ang Estado ng Lipunang Ginagalawan ni Juan

Also Visit My Other Blogs
| Pagod Ka Na Bang Maging si Juan? | Newz Around Us |

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