On August 6, 2008, just a few moments before celebrating her 23rd birthday, heading home from a gig through a jeepney passing Imelda Avenue in Cainta, Rizal, a thief gunned Tara Santelices.
When the robber declared a hold-up and ordered the passengers to give him their belongings, Tara resisted. The incident prompted the gunman to pull his trigger and shot the robbery victim in the forehead.
The jeepney driver remained on his usual itinerary, even grabbing other passengers, before bringing the victims to a medical facility unequipped for an emergency.
Joee Mejias, the last friend who was with her, immediately took a taxi to rush her to Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina City.
When the parents of Tara and Joee found out the horrible news, they rapidly went to the hospital. The following morning, Tara was again moved to the Medical City in Pasig City.
A graduate of Political Science from Ateneo De Manila, Tara was a freelance film director and a band guitarist, passions that she tosses with her work in a small microfinance non-government organization supporting women's livelihood in the rural areas.
Being an artist, an activist, and a civic worker, Tara also dreamed of working in the international scene.
After Tara was moved, multiple medical examinations were made. The tests found a lump of shrapnel embedded insider her head. A robbery went astray. The doctors said it would require a delicate and life-threatening surgery, but her parents decided not to go through with the operation.
After being comatose for five months, she was taken out of the intensive care unit by her family as doctors said she no longer needed a respirator to breathe. Her parents subsequently brought her home with private nurses who attended to her.
Unfortunately, after almost a year of fighting for her life, Tara was brought again to the hospital due to a high fever caused by an infection and eventually suffered a cardiac arrest.
"Nagkalagnat, sinugod namin sa ospital. Di na rin siguro niya kinayanan. Bumigay yung kidneys niya," Anne Santelices, Tara's mother, said.
On the other hand, the Cainta Municipal Police Station has already closed its inquiry after the suspect, Orlando del Rosario, died in a shootout with the authorities.
However, the witnesses claimed that del Rosario was not the one who shot Santelices that night.
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