When I first heard the news about a murder, I was halfway around
the world, eating some cup noodles on a rainy day. At first, I felt a certain feeling of apathy towards it. I thought it was just another murder. Nothing special. These things happen, right? I only had a glimpse of the morbid article. But then, I read the article for myself.
It was a young girl, who looked younger than me, who was abducted, shot in the head and dumped in a ditch. Reports say that she might have been a victim of some kind of summary execution, judging by the way she was shot dead center in the forehead. In my mind, I thought that things like this happened before to some famous activists. As I read on, I learned how she was bound, duck-taped and possibly raped. I was shocked, surprised, and even mad at the people capable of doing something so heartless. There was something strange to what was going on here. Not just because someone I probably don’t know was murdered, but because there was a deep sense of burden for me, just by reading about it. I wasn’t always sympathetic to things like this, but this definitely felt different. I was compelled to find out more about her.
I searched the around the internet for things that might lead me to something about her, and eventually I got a name.
Given Grace Cebanico
The name wasn’t familiar to me. I never knew her. I never sat
beside her in class. I never saw her eat lunch with her friends around campus, in some possibly common place. I never saw her walking to and fr, building to building nor did I ever see her scribbling notes in her notebook as she might have attentively attended class. We were never classmates or groupmates or orgmates. I never knew she existed.
She was a student in the same university I went to, a computer science major. I managed to find her Facebook page and browsed through the messages her friends have left for her. It kind of just hits me how much this girl was loved, and how much of a blessing her presence and her life must have been to these people. There was a certain kindness in her face. It was something I couldn’t quite tell exactly, but there was something about her that speaks to me. Something that definitely speaks to me, who happened to be just a complete stranger to her.
Most people I’ve talked to about her who knew her would des
cribe her as a “bibo” kid, sincere, kind, studious and determined.
“…siya pa yung nagcocomfort sakin nun at pinagpepray nya na magbati raw kami ni Anton. Ay grabe, sobrang bait nyang bata…” Osh, a friend of mine, described her in a comment in Facebook.
I never knew her, and blessed are you guys who did. But even so, just looking at how much people mourn her loss, how much people were blessed with her fellowship, I can really imagine how awesome the Jesus in her was. How much of a blessing it was to be with someone oozing with so much faith and kindness.
In a way, it’s sad that only now are people really telling her how much she mattered. The I miss you’s and the I love you’s that were never said… It breaks my heart. But then again, in a way, I cannot help but smile. Because to me, she is an inspiration and a testimony that God is still in control no matter how bad the situation seems to be.
When Christ died in the cross, he died to save us from all that is sin. Death is never the end. It may sound selfish or even wrong, but Given did not die without reason or purpose. And I’m sure that as we reflect on who she is and what she has done for you or me, as a friend, classmate, orgmate or schoolmate, we all realize that God was indeed alive in this girl and that has made all the difference.
Let this be a wake up call to you, to all of us.
To you who she calls her friend and family,
to you who was blessed enough to be able to sit beside her in class,
to you she ate lunch with,
to you she studied and crammed with before a tough exam,
to you who were brods and sisses to her,
to you who’s seen her around campus without even knowing her name or who she is,
and even to you who’s a complete stranger to her and yet sympathize.
Let this be a wake up call. That the loss of one woman of faith let arise a million others to stand up for what is right, what is true, and what is of God.
I ask you and challenge you.
Let her acts of kindness to you be remembered, not only by you, but by the people around you as well.
Let us pray for someone else, rather than our own.
Let us take care of each other, regardless of who you are and what you believe in.
Let God’s Given Grace be felt by everyone.
Pay it forward, the blessings of God.
I may not have ever known you, Given Grace. But you are and will be an inspiration and a testimony to me that God indeed exists. And I’m pretty sure you are to many others. There is reason and purpose to all of this. And I believe that all of us already know it in our hearts. And I am also sure that you, Given Grace ,already knew that in your heart.
Given Grace Cebanico, indeed,
“You were born because you are going to be important to someone.”
(Given’s last Facebook status update)
But now a righteousness from God has been made known.
This righteousness comes through faith in Christ,
and we are justified freely by his Given Grace.