As the story goes, Chichi just left home when two men on a motorbike tried to rob her at gunpoint. I assume there was a struggle, because she was punched in the mouth, and hit in the head with the gun. I don't know if the robbers succeeded.

I also heard that she, somehow, managed to go back to her home, despite being a "bloody mess", to quote a relative of hers who posted about it on Facebook. She was rushed to the hospital, where she is now recovering from surgery. Her skull was fractured, among others.

One, I'm glad she's safe.

Two, I'm more terrified now.

I don't really know Chichi that well, but we became friends thanks to Shale Campaigns, that attempt of mine to blog about the elections in La Salle. I came across her name during that blog's first year: she became a bit of a legend to me because she was the only Tapat member who won a position in her batch. I don't remember why that became a big deal to me; I only remember that that got stuck in my head.

We met when we were both sophomores; in line at Waldo Perfecto for the annual physical examination. She was behind me, and - again, I don't remember how - I talked to her, told her that I did this blog and I heard about her, and we ended up talking.

We talked occasionally since then, mostly during campaign period, when she ran for positions in the Executive Committee and won. Up to now, we still talk, occasionally, or at least we tweet, occasionally, about restaurants and cronuts and trivial stuff. She's a smart, sweet girl, and you'd never think these things would happen to her. But that's the whole random thing kicking in. It just happens to anybody.

You hear of these things happening on Facebook, of cab drivers putting their passengers to sleep, of snatchers watching out for you in buses, that sort of thing. "Please be warned, especially if you're a woman," these posts usually start. You hear about this a lot on the news, of endless CCTV footage of murders and robberies. "Isang lalaki, pinatay ng isang riding-in-tandem!" these reports usually start.

When ad executive Kae Davantes was nabbed and later found dead - now that struck a nerve, as apparently a lot of my friends knew her from high school. And I felt terrible, but at the same time it all felt trivial. Was it missing white girl syndrome? Was it because I knew people who knew her? Was it the distance, the feeling that still tries to live inside you, that you will still be safe as long as you try hard enough?

And then it does happen to someone that you know, and you feel very much unsafe again.

I'm not a virgin to street crime. My phones fell to a robber's hands thrice, the last two times in a bus - the second instance in an SRO bus in the middle of evening rush hour, the third instance in an empty bus in the middle of the afternoon, and with the assistance of some bubble gum. It sucks, because you'll have to get a new phone and new phone numbers and everybody else's, but when time passes by you learn to brush it all off. Besides, you say, at least you're still alive. And no matter what you hear in the news, it hasn't happened to you yet.

But you hear of a friend suffering worse, and you think twice. Is what you're doing enough? Will anything that you do ever be enough? Can being fatalistic about it - kung oras mo na, oras mo na - even help you? Here I was, remembering the many times I told Jeany that Manila is actually safer than the media and all the Americans make it out to be, and I say that with conviction because I actually believe it. Suddenly, I don't think I mean it.

The next inevitable question is, can anything ever be done about this? Will all this ever end?

As long as there are robbers whose defense is "dahil lang po sa kahirapan," and there are authorities whose defense is "maayos na dito sa Pilipinas," then I highly doubt it.

I'm glad Chichi is now safe. I trust that she will recover. I don't know if the rest of us will ever feel safe again.

And your responses...

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