Pepe Alcantara, Amiel Alcantara’s Dad Delivers 4 Messages

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My husband refused to listen to me the night I first learned of Amiel Alcantara’s death. As I narrated the sordid details on how Amiel Alcantara died, Butch clamped his ears, “Stop it, I don’t want to hear anymore. It is just too much” All he knows is that Amiel got ran over by a van inside the Ateneo campus. He couldn’t take in the violent nature of Amiel’s death. (Edit March 8: My husband wrote A Grief Beyond Words) .So, when I visited the wake of Amiel Alcantara on February 25, I was all alone. No worries, I was there to offer comfort that a grief support group such as The Compassionate Friends is around if they needed it one day. Good thing Cathy was around too. I kept staring at Pepe Alcantara. He looked familiar to me but I couldn’t place his face. That night, I told Butch that I met the father, Pepe Alcantara. The name rang a bell to Butch but it was only the following day that we got confirmation in the papers that he is the same Pepe Alcantara he knew back then in his UP student days. Pepe was the UP Student Council President in the early 80’s with Lean Alejandro as his vice. Pepe and Butch belonged to the same student organization in the UP student days. Surely now, Butch will want to see Pepe.

Without much convincing, Butch knew he just had to be there for Pepe on Amiel Alcantara’s funeral. There is comfort in knowing friends are there for you. There are no easy answers, no standard approaches that are universally helpful. There are no magic formulas that will make the pain go away. It is natural to feel helpless when the child of a friend dies. Remember that showing your loving concern can be very comforting to a grieving family. We know that so we just had to be there for them.

Butch and I thought we would just stay till we said our hi’s and hello’s to Pepe but we stayed on for Amiel’s funeral-mass. It was very beautiful and meaningful to us because we too lost a son. During Luijoe’s funeral-mass, I was just in a daze and not really understanding the words of comfort from the priest. What struck me the most is Pepe Alcantara’s message which rings true in the hearts of most newly bereaved parents.

Here is Pepe’s message: (transcribed from my cellphone video but snippets only…)

“We are wounded and in so much pain. We must heal. I have four messages. One is for Amiel. One is for myself. One is for family and the last to the community.

For Amiel

Forgive me. I am sorry, I would have wanted to be there. I would have wanted to be there, to hold you, to protect you.

Three boys, all Atenistan take off for school , it was around 6:45 in the morning and they were already off, almost outside the gate when Amiel asked the driver to stop, and he opened the van, ran towards me and gave me a very tight hug. I am not superstitious but now I do understand that there was message, a message of a hug. In fact, I thought Amiel was a “pilyo or pilosopo” and wanted to ask more money for “baon”. The next moment, I shared with him that day when, finally we were done with the hospital, the crime lab for autopsy and Arlington. And very kindly, Arlington gave us a holding room where we were alone. That was the last. And was how the day ended, that began with the tight hug of a much beloved son and ended with him inside a coffin.

The lesson here is that when someone hugs you, make sure you hug the person back and that you do it well because you’ll never know if it will be your last.”

For myself

Woody Allen once said “I am not scared of death. I just don’t want to be there when it comes”. I don’t know but there is a message here. Appreciate life, more…and that part of life which we never understood, and it is called death…

I have to tell you this . For the last couple of days, I have been told “God works in the mysterious ways”…again and again… But I have to say this and I have to say this…God is a poor warehouse man. First in First out. It is not fair. It’s not fair. First in First out. That should be the rule of God…

I have to understand. (I am still trying to understand)

For my Family

In particular I have to say this to Amiel’s brother, Avie. Avie was on ground zero when it happened. And that boy has courage. I would like you to keep that courage not only to your family but people out there. You were out there, pulling out…even though there was blood, you were there. That is a big expression of courage.

Of course, Yaya Tata who saved everyone. It would have been more disastrous and tragic. Yaya Tata has been with us more than you can imagine. I have to share you this…Tata has been with us for 40 years, Yaya was also the yaya of my wife from day 1, the second mother of all the children. And I thank you forever…

For our relatives and friends. . I don’t have to thank you because you are part of this mourning, this pain. Especially to those, my friends out there. My goodness, Ngayon lang tayo mag-reunion, Friends that I haven’t seen for 20-25 years, UP days and they would say Pre, akala namin patay ka na. Buhay ka pa pala.

Thank you for the reunion. Thank you for the love. Thank you for thanks I can’t even describe for the couple of days.

For the community

It ended as concern. I have 241 missed calls before I came over here. Text messages. Media My friends from the media. We wanted to be quiet. Father Nebres and Father Kit knew about that to make it private. That very day when that sandwich was not finished, it became and symbolized a sense of concern. There is more to that. How can we regenerate, or even begin the process of regeneration if you are unable to protect the seeds that you have here?” Magpakatotoo tayo. How can regeneration happen if a child cannot even finish his sandwich…”

Amiel will be your angel, but I am sure he will not haunt you. You will always be with us, every moment of every single day.

How I wish I could join the Father and son’s night tonight but we will have our own celebration tonight.

Thank you.

My husband and I can only nod in agreement on Pepe’s message to himself. We understand the grief. Grief is a process and questions will certainly rise “Why God?”.

A child’s death may raise serious questions about God’s role in this event. I cannot presume to offer answers. If the parents like Pepe Alcantara raise the issue, it would be better to listen and allow them to explore their own feelings. They will need to arrive at an individual philosophy about this.

I am grateful to GMA News 7 for featuring our grief support group, The Compassionate Friends (TCF) as part of their lead story in yesterday’s 24 Oras news report. In this video is my friend, Cathy who is also a co-founder of The Compassionate Friends. Part of TCF’s mission is grief education and to offer suggestions on giving continuing support and understanding to the bereaved family friends and relatives.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

I shared to the public on how they can help the grieving parents. I offered many suggestions but the one that was featured was :

Avoid using ““It was God’s will” and other clichés that attempt to minimize or explain the death. Don’t try to find something positive in the child’s death, such as, ““At least you have other children.” There are no words that make it all right that their child has died.

At first, I didn’t realize why that particular tip was selected among the others. After I heard Pepe Alcantara deliver his message this afternoon, I understood.

Clichés are said with the intent of making the parent or family members feel better……to find something positive in the loss. When we care about someone, we hate to see them in pain. To try to minimize their hurt people we’ll often say things like, ““I know how you feel……” ““It was God’s will……” ““Perhaps it was for the best” or ““you can always have another child.” While this can work in some instances, it never works with grief. Don’t try to make sense of the death or find a reason.

When Ma. Theresa Torres issued an apology statement for the Alcantara family, I feel it is presumptuous.

““I express my deepest sympathy for the (Alcantara) family for the loss of Julian, I know the pain in their hearts.”

““I could also feel the anguish and painful trial they are suffering at the moment.”

How can Theresa really know or feel their pain? She has not lost a child. Theresa surely has her own anguish and pain but it is not the same as that of losing a child. She can only imagine the pain of the Alcantara’s family. It is very difficult to comprehend the depth of the loss when a child dies, and to say you do may seem presumptuous to the parents.

In the Official Statement of Amiel Alcantara’s Family,

“We note the expressions of concern and sympathy, artfully conveyed in the statement of Ms. Torres. Our loss is indeed irreplaceable, and our pain, beyond imagining.

But her statement fails to assuage; her words fail to comfort. For even as she seeks
sympathy also for herself, Ms. Torres studiously avoids acknowledging any culpability for this terrible tragedy.

The Alcantara family owes it to Amiel, as well as, to our wounded community to see to it that justice is done.”

I know we all want to minimize their pain.

In his own time, Pepe Alcantara and the rest of the family will search for their own meanings.

View Photos of Amiel Alcantara’s Last day

News and Video

Video tribute

Outpouring of grief at cremation of Amiel Alcantara

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Amiel Alcantara cremated at Arlington

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1386 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Rowena S. Disini

    I too lost a child of only 2 days old, so I know a little of this pain. It is not easy to comfort someone who is grieving. It so true that those who grieve cannot be comforted with any logical or reasonable explanation of their loss. During the wake of my son, the best comforting that i got was from a friend who just sat right next to me, held my hand tightly and just kept quiet.

    • You know the pain too well. There are just no words. That’s why I just say a hug, a touch is enough to comfort.

  • Engr. Larry L. Septimo

    My heart goes out to Mr. Jose Alcantara, the father of Amiel. I could feel his grief. He may look stern and composed on news video footages, but somehow I know that his heart bleeds. He needs to show a brave front for the sake of his family, and that’s it should be.

    I myself lost a very young son in the same tragic manner. And news like this propels hurtful memories like it was that fateful day. Can’t help it, two years is not enough to fully recover from such tragedy.

    Doing things the first time without Amiel would be very sad for Mr. Alcantara and his family. Packing Amiel’s personal things would bleed his heart. Realization, acceptance, healing and recovery is a long and sad journey. May GOD be with you.

    If there will be instances that Amiel appears in your dreams, cherish them for it will be the only way that you will have him once again.

    • Parents like us who have lost a child never recover 100%. Triggers like these set us to another roller coaster ride in the grief journey. That’s why I always say recovery is a work in progress. Two years, three years…there is not timetable for grief. Each individual has their own journey, unique to themselves.

      I hope you can join us in our of The Compassionate Friends meeting just to share and comfort with others who are still new in their grief.

  • Good to spend this morning with you at the AGS. Oh the journey towards healing is a long and arduous one. Take care and rest well this week-end.

    Cathys last blog post..Fly High, We Bid Amiel Alcantara Good-bye

    • It is a journey we all know to well. Yup you take care too, Cathy.

  • Grief beyond words. Our prayer goes out to the family. May the Lord comfort their hearts and provide that peace beyond understanding that the Lord promised in His word.

    May the Lord bless you more, Tita even as you minister to the hearts of the Alcantaras.

    Jennies last blog is now Live!

  • Noemi, I can not really read the words you have written because I can not stop my tears from flowing.

    I do not know Amiel and the pain and hurt his family is feeling right now, but as a mother whose only son is named Julian, my heart is just bleeding for them.

    I am praying for their family and the families who went through this.

    julies last blog post..Biking

  • “The lesson here is that when someone hugs you, make sure you hug the person back and that you do it well because you’ll never know if it will be your last.”

    Those words just struck me at my very core. I cannot imagine anything like this happening to ANY parent.

    I pray for all the children in the world, including my daughter, that the Lord will keep them all safe.

    • ever since my son died, I treasure each day of my life and that of my loved ones. They are precious.

  • It’s not only once that I almost lost my children especially my son since he has asthma since birth. He was being hospitalized around 3 times a year when he was younger, and it’s killing me too.

    And I just cannot imagine the scary feeling of finally loosing him or any member of my family. The last time was worst, when my wife was chilling and could hardly talk while she was suffering from Dengue.

    But “accidents” are different, as I really don’t believe in it. For me, accidents are only caused by nature and sometimes catastrophes like landslide cannot even be called as such. Road accidents has a great percentage of human error. Cars are machines and they only move because we command them. I know there is no such thing as perfect car maintenance, which is why there are other ways to minimize car accidents.

    Am I judging anyone here? No, I am just trying to say that if and only if preventive measures were being applied religiously the probability of such “accidents” will be lesser somehow. And yes, I don’t think is about GOD. In fact, GOD allows us to decide for ourselves. HE is just there to guide us, so I also try to avoid using the term “allowed by God”.

    In cases like this, I believe that GOD is only reminding us that any negative happening has a positive reason but it does not necessarily mean nobody will pay the price. In fact, there should be…in the most appropriate way.

    Angel Cualas last blog post..Online Money Seekers – Beware of Work at Home Job Scams

    • that’s why the case is being filed for reckless imprudence with criminal intent because the driver had control over the car.

      And the parents only want justice for their son.

  • I feel deeply for Amiel and the family he left behind. It’s very sad to think of a young life cut short. May he find peace in Heaven.

    Thank you for sharing this post. Now I know that sometimes you don’t need words to express your sympathy but one’s presence is enough,

    Rach (Heart of Rachel)s last blog post..Megan Corkrey, My A.I. Favorite

    • yes just a touch, just a hug.

  • when all this happened, i couldn’t help but think of how i would handle it if it had happened to me. and honestly, i don’t want to even imagine it happening to our family. you don’t even have to hear the words of amiel’s parents. just the look on their faces is enough to convey the grief and pain that they are feeling.

    it is tragic events like this that makes you realize that life is indeed short and unexpected. i echo the words of amiel’s dad, i always make it a point to live and love as if each day were my last. and we should all do the same.

    Cookies last blog post..Capt. Gaby

    • as amiel’s father said there is a message in a hug. Hug tight. Hug Well.

  • When I learned of the details of Amiel’s tragic death last Tuesday, even though I did not know him, I cried. I wanted to write a blog post to spread the word to please pray for him as requested by his family—but I could not. Here is another case of a young boy who left this earth ahead of his parents, ahead of all of us. And when I think about it, I say it is senseless. What could have been the reason of his death? What could have been his mission on earth? In the same way that there were no answers when our little Michael died, so were there none for Amiel. He simply had come home, true to his last words to his aunt and Ninang. “I want to be home.”

    • I really want to know the mom driver’s side. How was it possible for her to drive like that? What was her frame of mind?

    • Thanks to @momblogger through plurk that I’ve learned about this tragic news. When my wife and I (we lost our first child to a dreaded disease, he’s 11 months old) sat together to watch the news, my wife was crying while I was teary eyed. We went to our kids’ room and hugged them…

      Carl Lozanos last blog post..Homey Sundays

  • toby

    May I suggest that posts like this not start with a Google Adsense Ad. 🙁

    • Thanks for your suggestion but this is my blog not yours. I do not have to explain to you but since you made this suggestion. let me tell you I have my reasons for having google adsense.

      Instead of asking donations from my readers or fellow bereaved parents, I use whatever little income to augment my own earnings and use it for my grief advocacy and others that I don’t have to mention here.

      Lastly, the ad is already part of this blog’s template

  • i think that because pepe alcantara is from u.p., it will not be as easy for the ateneo community to close ranks and continue on damage-control or denial mode as they usually do whenever ateneo figures negatively in the news. amiel’s needless death and theresa torres’ culpability must be faced squarely or there will be no healing and no end to the bad karma.

    angelas last blog post..ateneo after-amiel

  • The message of Pepe is so touching. It’s beyond words. May there be justice for Amiel and other child victims of tragedy or violence. I really wanted to be angry to the mother who did that. But I am reminded of the underlying message why Christ died on the cross. It was in the name of forgiveness.

    Keep up the crusade!

  • cg

    symphatize and emphatize blogger!

    i feel the alcantaras’ grief. losing a son in a tragic manner is really hard to accept and will take a long time to heal or perhaps it never will.

    i symphatize with mrs. torres as well and it is unfair for her to be judged as being ‘presumptuous’. she may not feel the pain losing a child but she and her family will forever be haunted by this accident.

    tell me, how would you react if you were in mrs. torres’ shoes? of course you will tell me that this will not happen to you. but you know, it was an accident. she has no motive of killing amiel. she too is shocked with what is happening and she may really not know if it was the accelerator or the brakes that she stepped on. she doesn’t know what to say, all she knows is she killed amiel and her children has a mother that killed an innocent amiel.

    • Yes, true it was an accident but if it happened to me I won’t say “I feel their pain etc etc” and I will feel remorseful. She has NOT owned up to it yet. She has only issued an apology statement from her lawyers. And Pepe issued a reply to this saying

      “We note the expressions of concern and sympathy, artfully conveyed in the statement of Ms. Torres. Our loss in indeed irreplaceable, and our pain, beyond imagining.

      But her statement fails to assuage; her words fail to comfort. For even as she seeks
      sympathy also for herself, Ms. Torres studiously avoids acknowledging any culpability for this terrible tragedy.

      The Alcantara family owes it to Amiel, as well as, to our wounded community to see to it that justice is done.”

      Did you know Pepe is now asking for a hold departure for Ms. Torres. She cannot be located.

  • Your husband’s first reaction was the same as my husband. He didn’t want to hear the details — it seems that they are more afraid of us. We have a 10 year old son and everyday since the tragic accident, my husband never stops reminding my children to be extra careful.

    I cannot imagine the grief — I lost 3 babies who are still fetuses, I was already devastated. what more if you have spent wonderful years with them. I am so happy that you and your friends have started “The Compassionate Friends”. I must say you truly inspire me. Ever since I started blogging I have looked up to you. Thanks for the inspiration, maybe soon I can be as active as you.

    With that, I have mentioned you in my blog, by giving you the “Miss Friendship” award, for you are truly an inspiration.

    Keep it up!

    sassy moms last blog post..WS : Mag:Net Cafe

    • Thanks for the Miss Friendship Award. It is an honor. I try to do the best I can to write and share stories that inspire.

  • Julie Gonzales

    Sometimes we aren’t quite sure why things happen the way that they do. Although, our faith carries us through the uncertainty and pain, we are still left with the deepest emotions of grief and lingering questions in our mind. It’s human nature…

    When you lose a parent you are an orphan
    when you lose a wife or a husband you are widow
    But when you lose a child, there is no term for that….
    a parent should never have to bury their child

    They say that the moment you are born is the moment you begin to die. How do you explain that to grieving parents who have lost the very essence of themselves, a physical counterpart to whom they are. We watch our children grow and in the blink of an eye they’re running out the door.

    Amiel’s death awakened not only his family but an entire community of people who shared in their grief. It woke us up to the realization that it could have been our children or our child. At that moment Amiel became everyone’s child. One family’s tragedy became other families awakening. Hug your children tell them that you love them and watch them as they leave the door. Because you never know…

    To the parents of Amiel my heart goes out to you. The pain of a losing a child is so unbearable and it leaves such an empty space that can never be filled. And though they say time heals all wounds it’s a lie. That pain is never lost and if you were a parent you would understand. Rather we learn to live with that emptiness slowly everyday until we can finally breath on our own. The Alcantara’s grief is only now becoming an everyday part of their lives. When the wake, the funeral, the texts and calls stop that is when the pain starts to really sink in. Your faith will guide you through your pain. There are no answers to your questions but somehow you will overcome this together as a family. Nothing will ever bring back your son, no should’ve or could’ve or would’ve. Release all your anger and pain and sorrow, cry, yell, scream…..and in the end forgive…..

    All my life I have been raised catholic and christian. I’m God fearing and would probably never take another’s life. But in all truth and honesty the moment I found out about Amiel’s death I looked at my children and could only imagine….What if it was them? I would have killed her. Not realizing that I said it out loud, my 5 year old son says… “Is that what Jesus would do it was an accident mom she didn’t mean it, it could happen to anyone, even you….and if it was you I would still love you and forgive you because you didn’t do it on purpose…that’s what an accident is….right mom? Everyone keeps talking about Amiel and saying bad things about her, but she’s not bad and her kids aren’t bad either so why are people in school being so mean when they keep teaching us to love one another and be a man for others….What was there fault that they could never come back to school again?” I learned the greatest lesson from my 5 year old son. So at that moment my heart went out to the driver of the vehicle. And the sorrow and hysteria she feels at this moment is also unbearable knowing that she was the cause of what happened. But more so my heart goes out to her children. I pray for her and her family to find a way through these most difficult times. Where the Ateneo family has lost not only one member in their community but the children of the accused as well. What happened to their christian teachings, and why is no one helping them? And why aren’t the priests or brother’s extending a hand out to their family as well?

    As time passes I hope that people learn to get past their pain but never forget what happened…

    • RFA

      We should realize that tri-media reports (including blogs and blog comments) do not necessarily tell the complete story. Some reports are one-sided and some reports are objective. Unfortunately, judgment is passed on the sole basis of al these media reports.

      Ateneo IS doing something. Official statements from the school are released giving out pertinent information that they feel the public, the Ateneo community in particular needs to know about. But that doesn’t mean that’s all their doing. It saddens me when someone (or in this case Ateneo) is accused of not doing anything. Well, they are. They just choose not publicize everything they do.

      Families of both sides are being counselled by the Ateneo priests