[Blog] Still, Kristel’s legacy: A Reply to the Chancellor By Jose Mario De Vega

Still, Kristel’s legacy: A Reply to the Chancellor
By Jose Mario De Vega

I write in reaction to the reaction of Manuel B. Agulto (Suicide caused by many factors, not heroic, September 29, PDI), Chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Manila with regard to the Inquirer’s Aug. 11 editorial (“Kristel’s legacy) that highlighted the life of a UP Manila student that ended her life in tragedy.

Mario De Vega

Let me dissect the contention of the good doctor, point per point.

“Firstly, let me cite that various studies have already clarified that suicide is a complex phenomenon that is a result of an interplay of multiple factors.”


What is so complex about suicide? What makes it a complex phenomenon? It is my fervent view that people does not merely decide to kill themselves; without reason. Basic is the rule in human existence of cause and effect. Hence: what is the reason or the reasons that led a human being to end his or her life? What are these so-called results of “an interplay of multiple factors”?

I concur with the Manila Collegian that Kristel’s “desperation over her financial problems with forced her to defer her studies was believed to have triggered the suicide”.

To those morons who, tries to evade the issue and divert the truth by claiming that suicide is a “complex phenomenon” miserably failed to realize that a person more often than not decides to do the act only after they reached their limits.

Those idiots cannot hide the irrefutable fact neither can they wash their dirty hands.

The blood of this young girl is on their hands! Shame on all of them!

Kristel’s act of filing the forced leave of absence (LOA) on the ground of late payment, despite the repeated request of her family to the authorities of UP Manila is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

“The filing of a leave of absence, in compliance with university policies, could not be isolated as the main cause of this tragedy. In fact, the suicide note never even mentioned tuition as a factor.”


No one has stated that the act of Kristel in filing the LOA could be isolated as the main cause of this tragedy, yet having said that can the good doctor dispute the fact that what led Kristel to finally decide to kill herself is the emotional shame and mental humiliation she suffered when she filed that document “in compliance with university policies”?

The fact that the suicide note does not even mentioned tuition as a factor does not mean that that is not one of the many reasons that led Kristel to finally decide to kill herself. I wonder if the said doctor is contradicting himself.

Remember sir, you stated, “suicide is a complex phenomenon” which is the result of “an interplay of multiple factors”.

The way you talk, as if you are acquitting the University of the Philippines from all guilt and responsibility. You cannot evade neither can you hide the truth, sir. And the truth of the matter is that, it is not only you and your institution that killed that young woman, but sad but true, it is our whole society; specifically our preposterous, heartless and inhumane educational system that long betrayed the humanistic and developmental purpose of education.

Kristel has given a human face to the government’s continuous act of abandoning state education!

“In addition, various local and foreign authorities have repeatedly advised that suicide incidents should not be glamorized. These evidence-based studies by experts are adequately documented.”


No one has glamorized the tragic death of Kristel. Her untimely and gruesome death has awakened a lot of people with regard to the sorry plight of our educational system. People from all walks of life condemned the injustices, the shame and the humiliation that she undergone and suffered, not the act that she did.

“Let me also state that there are available loans and financial programs, aside from the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program, that needy and poor students in UP Manila could avail themselves of. Appropriate requirements and forms should just be complied with or filled out and filed accordingly. These mechanisms were in place even before this unfortunate incident happened.”


Sir, how come all of these mechanisms failed to salvage Kristel?

“Finally, we find the editorial’s use of the term “legacy” inappropriate. I firmly believe that the decision of the student to end her life should not be deemed as a heroic action worthy of emulation.”


Sir, I myself may not agree with the act did by Kristel, yet still it is my view that what she did is still heroic. Heroic, in the sense, that instead of bombing your building or killing one of your bureaucrats, she has chosen the path of self-destruction. In doing so, in my view, she has bombed the collective conscience of this nation, questioned our national soul (if we have one), mocked our values, killed our apathy, demolished our sense of shame and taunted our ethics and morality.

Sir, what kind of society do we have that a young, but bright girl whose only fault is that she is poor has no choice but to end her life in tragedy?

Shame on us! Shame on us all!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Masters in Philosophy (2004)
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Sciences
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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