Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Florence, Unbreakable Nightingale

We'll be taking a break from our King Saul series and give way to an issue that has touched my heart this past week. It's about a 21-year-old nurse who, on the night of September 25 this year, was gang-raped by around 10 men then left for dead on a vacant lot near the hospital she works in.

Her identity is presently protected behind the pseudonym Florence. It has been reported that afer the men took turns raping her, a huge wooden plank was smashed against her face and a large rock dropped on her head (1). She was left for dead, found naked and unconscious the next day in a grassy area at the back of the hospital where she worked (2).

The reports on this case continue to update. Yesterday, a "suspect" surfaced claiming that there merely had been two attackers and not ten as previously reported. The new suspect, an ex-militiaman states a story of how he tried to flee to Surigao but returns to face his responsibility after being conscience-stricken. By the prospects indicated by the news, the Philippine National Police seems ready to accept this story, calling him a "vital suspect" (3). Its Chief Director General Raul Bacalzo claimed that case "100 percent solved" (3).

Now, I know it's a very sensational case: emotions are running high; everybody wants someone to blame; religious human-rights organizations wanting justice and wanting it now; and the police is just hard-pressed to come up with a result to appease the bloodthirsty public. But let's all calm down. If we all love Florence, if we claim that we care about this fragile little girl named Florence, let's control ourselves.

We all know how sentimental we are when it comes to the ideal of justice. We want justice for this, justice for that. Corrupt people, whether in the police or in the line of the suspects, have been known to throw the emotional crowd off its course through a number of ways. One of this is to bring to the surface a fall guy. Just to let the "din of justice" die down, some guy just appears out of nowhere and claims "Yep, I did it." And knowing the bloodthirsty crowd rallying behind the cause of justice, it is just too emotional to feed on anything with the tag "suspect" on its chest. Please, let's just all calm down and be vigilant!

Let us remember that the roster of suspects include people with government connections. An October 2 news revealed one suspect as the son of a retired employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Maguindanao (2). But perhaps the most controversial of the suspects is the son of the mayor of the very town Florence was raped in(4). In the news item the mayor, Mayor Abdula Campong of South Upi, Maguindanao, had expressed assurance to fully cooperate in the investigation of the incident.(4)

We who are waiting and praying for justice and the swift and glorious recovery of Florence should be focused on another matter, a matter more important than hanging someone for this heinous crime. We should be focused on Florence. It is important that we not only think about Florence as a victim--for she is no longer a victim--but celebrate her survival. She lives, which means she is strong. I find it a tremendous wonder that one 21 years of age, a female, faced with all the powers of hell, dragged and raped repeatedly and terrified and mauled to near-death could ever survive. The onslaught of at least two strong sex-crazed psychos would have been too much of a child of fragile frame. But she survives. It is and shall remain a wonder for me to look at this news item and find a 21-year-old female nurse dragged to hell, made to make her way out of the tunnel of terror, and come out of death miraculously alive! That is strength. That is power.

According to the news, she has survived though the right side of her body has been paralyzed due to the vicious blows she received to the head. Wanting justice and wanting these guys in death row or in torture or in any hellish punishment worse than death is a given. We all want them to suffer the same fate and the same terror that Florence felt during the moment of her greatest ordeal, the helplessness, the hopelessness that no one was there for her--her father was nowhere; no brother or boyfriend could be found. If I may be so bold to express my animalistic judgment--if there was such a thing--I'd opt for at least the most beloved and adored female linked to every convict in this case repeatedly raped and tortured and slammed with wood, slab of rock, or the side of a mountain, or whatever have you! I want them to experience the helplessness and the hopelessness grip their hearts as the shadow of terror falls upon them in the very same way Florence was enshrouded during the period of her greatest ordeal. So there is no death penalty for these wannabe sexpsychos, good! We'll give them a taste of some things that will make them run to the embrace of death and find that the law of the land prohibits the death penalty.

I am angry. I am furious. I am incensed at the way the police are handling this case! Just because some jerk confesses to the crime, it's "100 percent solved"? What kind of police idiot is this? I thought there is an investigation going on? When Florence pointed the suspects, the invesitgation began. And now some bozo suddenly admits--and the first bozo, I must say--it's "solved"? What happened to the investigation? What happened to the other side of due process where there is supposed to be a prosecution and an defense in deliberation to prove whether or not this moron is the real thing or a fall guy--as he now looks very well to be? Due process is supposed to work for the accused or the accuser!

To Florence, we love you. You remind me of that movie Unbreakable many years ago which starred Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. Bruce Willis played a man in the story who was never sick all his life, while Jackson one who had been weak and sick since youth. When fated to meet, Jackson asked Willis why the latter ever chose to be a security guard. Out of all the jobs that Willis could work in, why did he ever choose one that entailed protecting human life? If you've seen the movie, you know it's all about heroes. Heroes just like you.

To you, let me be a Jackson here: out of all the vocations you can ever take, why have you chosen to be a nurse, one that entails saving human lives? I would basically understand if you would answer something along the line of lifting you family out of poverty. But I believe it's something more than that. With you surviving the onslaught of wicked people, you have something important to fulfill in this life. And probably a part of this purpose is to give inspiration to all who have fallen under wickedness.

You are unique in your strength, Florence. You are unique as a beacon of hope for all who have fallen who can be like you and rise back to life. You are the fallen's symbol of power, the symbol that they need not be called victims forever. You have risen, which makes you a victor!

Florence, you are truly one of amazing wonder. You are a small fragile boat sent out into open sea to face the dangers of storms. You drifted into the very heart of where the storms are made, where the force of many storms will shatter the mightiest, most seaworthy sea vessel. You sailed right through the heart of it. But instead of being tossed and turned, you splintered it. You passed through an ordeal that could make the Titanic break, that could rip apart a ship crafted by the genius of modern technology, and you made it back into port. All who see you are astonished that your light fragile frame had braved all the power of the open sea and yet you survive. A girl of but 21 had received in her body the brunt of death and yet she is miraculously alive!

You have been through a lot, too much for a child your age to have experienced. And we, the common people, think that by searching for the perpetrators and bringing them to justice is the best gift we can ever give you to console your broken spirit. As it turns out, justice is a given. Justice is a promise. The Bible and every other faith I know promises justice to the innocent who have fallen trap to the snares of the wicked. Florence, for surviving, for rising miraculously to life, you deserve all our respect, admiration, excitement, and love. You are everything a hero is made of. You are made of steel. You have looked death straight at the face and yet live. You are a wonder of power and grace. The moment you fought back with all your strength, you have stopped being a victim. You are no longer a victim. You are hero. You are our baby Florence. You are hero. And we love you.

Jan Mythos



(1) JV.GMANews TV, Suspect says 'only 2 men' raped nurse in Maguindana" News Update,

(2) "Suspects in gang rape of nurse in Maguindanao nabbed," Nursing Review,,com_kunena/Itemid,0/catid,14/func,view/id,225/

(3) "Gang-rape sa volunteer nurse sa Maguindanao, lutas na ? PNP chief" GMA NEWS.TV,

(4) Charlie Senase, "Mayor with son linked to gang rape vows to cooperate in probe" Inquirer Mindanao,, First Posted 13:27:00 10/02/2010, ttp://


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