Marielle Achacoso: A girl whose dreams ended on Bus 2640

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/16 December) — “Happiness is a positive cash flow” and “nothing is impossible” said two of the stickers placed by 17-year old Marielle Achacoso, a first year accountancy student in her dream board — a project for one of their subjects in her first semester in Central Mindanao University in Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Another sticker said “push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you,” and yet another said “if it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.”

She wanted to become a lawyer, she wanted to achieve a lot, and she was also the siblings’ achiever, Lechelle Achacoso, a sixth year veterinary medicine student of CMU said of her sister.

“She wanted to do it because she wanted to pay back our parents’ sacrifices. Our parents came from poor families, she wanted us to be out of poverty,” she added.

On December 9, Marielle took RTMI deluxe bus 2640 to go home in Malaybalay. She did not make it.

Msrielle Achacoso, sweet, jolly and friend to many.
Msrielle Achacoso, sweet, jolly and friend to many.

Marielle was one of the five CMU students who died with five other persons when an improvised bomb went off inside the bus on Dec. 9, just outside the university’s main gate. Forty-two others were wounded in the incident, which happened a month after another RTMI bus was bombed about a kilometer away from CMU injuring four people.

Lechelle said she remembers her sister, on her first year as an accountancy student at CMU, as a sweet and jolly person, who made a lot of friends.

On that fateful afternoon, they were not really able to talk much. Her sister’s last class on Tuesday was called off. Since Marielle was unable to go home over the weekend for some classes, she felt homesick and decided to go home.

Lechelle said she heard about the explosion but thought that her sister must have already left earlier.

When Marielle had not yet reached home around 8p.m, Lechelle started to worry. Her name was not in the list of patients brought to the CMU infirmary and eventually sent to a hospital in Valencia City. It was only around 10p.m. that the family confirmed that she was gone.

On the sixth day of her wake, the family recalled Marielle’s achievements. Next to her white casket is a soil painting of her by Waway Saway, an artist and musician from the Talaandig tribe. Saway randomly picked her as a subject during a soil painting workshop when she was still a fourth year student of Bukidnon National High School. The school kept the painting in a display room but a teacher turned it over to the family when they heard about what happened.

Almost everyone in BNHS remembers Marielle as a campus journalist. Earlier this year, she won first prize in the editorial writing contest in the Regional Schools Press Conference and represented Northern Mindanao in the national competition in Subic Bay, Zambales in April 2014.

Lechelle remembered that her sister always wanted to be a broadcaster and dreamt of becoming a television anchor person.

“Maybe she wanted to become a journalist as a sideline to becoming a lawyer,” she added.

Marielle attended “Intro to Broadcasting” workshop of the 2nd Malaybalay Summer Youth Journalism Training Workshops in 2013, which was a project of Bukidnon News.Net in cooperation with MindaNews and the BSU Ethno-cultural Museum.

‘Seeking justice’

The family is preparing for Marielle’s burial on December 20, including printing of t-shirts with the words “Justice for Marielle” on the back side.

But the family doubts that the police got the right suspect. Ricardo Achacoso, Marielle’s father, said they are hoping that Macmod Manibpil, allegedly a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, “is for real.”

“We are not 100-percent convinced that the suspect identified is really the culprit,” he added.

He said there are doubts especially that police is pressed to identify a suspect to show they are doing something. Manibpil is an escapee who is also a suspect in the 2006 bombing in Kabacan, North Cotabato. Mr. Achacoso admitted, however, that “we cannot underestimate them because that’s their job.”

“But they should have really taken the first bombing (Nov. 6) more seriously,” he said.

The family also lamented the lapses in security measures by both the bus company and the authorities even after the Nov. 6 bombing incident in Barangay Dologon, Maramag.

“It could have been the warning but they did not take action,” Mr. Achacoso said.

They can’t just inspect passengers in the terminal because the bus company picks up passengers (in between bus terminals), he added.

He said the bus company should hire a third person for every bus – a bus marshal or security guard – to ensure the safety of the passengers. “Their income relies so much on how safe their passengers are. They are a big company, they should be able to afford security personnel.”

“They should check all passengers embarking any of their buses, even if it takes longer. They (passengers) would not mind as long as it is safe,” said Mrs. Achacoso, who earlier begged off to be interviewed.

She also expressed dismay over the insensitive posting of some Facebook netizens of videos that portray the helplessness and gory appearances of the victims before hospital personnel attended to them.

“The clips are so gross. It is unmindful of the feelings (of the families and the dignity of the victims themselves).”

On December 15, Marielle’s sisters discovered a letter to Jesus in her room showing her reflective and prayerful side.

In her undated letter she acknowledged “God loves me and he wants me to be stronger.”

“I really was convinced that I could really do so much better next time. I have made plans. Super good plans that I really hope will come true,” she added.

Her list goes: “start studying and reviewing, study harder, aim high, save money, and see the world.”

Unfortunately, she bade goodbye to this world without seeing her dreams fulfilled. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)