Families try to help lone survivor cope-A A +A
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
FOR the sake of their niece, the families of Melinda and Emmanuel Ponce are trying to rise above any tension caused by last Sunday’s shooting, in which the couple, three of their children and a helper died.
“We can’t blame them (for the tension), considering what happened to their sister,” said a relative of Emmanuel, who requested not
to be named.
“But we all grieve for what happened. No one wanted them to end up like this. This calls for unity, for the sake of Embrelaince.”
Melinda’s sisters arrived shortly after the fatal shooting early Sunday morning in Palm View Village in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City. Some tension was reportedly observed between the two families during the wake, which began Sunday night.
Their niece Embrelaince, 13, is the lone survivor.
Emmanuel reportedly asked their youngest child to go outside, before he killed himself. By then, he had already shot his wife, three of their children and their helper, 34-year-old newlywed Anastacia Deniega.
Years before their life ended tragically, Emmanuel and Melinda Ponce met in Manila and fell in love. Melinda’s youngest sister Yayo Dio, 36, told Sun.Star Cebu that the couple had lived there for four years.
Coming from an underprivileged family, Melinda worked hard to finish college in Sorsogon City, Bicol, then went to Manila.
She was the second among 10 children, whose parents lived as farmers.
Emmanuel, on the other hand, was an only child whose family hailed from Alegria, a southern Cebu town.
While working in a bank, Melinda met Emmanuel, a seaman. By the time they had two children, they decided to settle in Talisay City, Cebu. They eventually raised four children, three girls and a boy.
Yayo, in an interview, said that her sister Melinda confided in her about their marital problems.
In previous interviews, Melinda’s friends said they learned from her that she had been beaten by her husband. Some of the children were beaten as well.
They had also heard him threaten to kill them.
Thelma Bellones, however, said her cousin Emmanuel suffered from nervous breakdowns after he fell while working on a ship abroad.
He retired as a seaman and worked as a businessman. He owned parcels of land in Alegria and rented out apartments and houses in different barangays in Cebu City.
Yolanda Daan, a neighbor and close friend of Melinda’s, said that Emmanuel’s relationship with his wife was strained because of jealousy. (Daan is Provincial Board Member Julian Daan’s wife and was among the first to come to the 13-year-old survivor’s aid right after Sunday’s tragedy.)
Whenever Melinda arrived home late, her husband would make an issue of it,
“Mangabobho lagi si Emmanuel. Pero modagan ra man si Melinda ug mag-gym (He would get jealous, but she was just out running or in the gym),” Yolanda said, adding that her friend had dreamt of running in Barcelona.
In a separate interview, classmates of Heather Joy, the second eldest child who was also killed, recalled what she had told them of her family life and her own dreams.
Genica Mejares, 24, told Sun.Star Cebu that Heather Joy was beaten up by their father on several occasions when she was young. “She said she couldn’t ever forgive her father,” Mejares said.
Heather Joy previously described her father as strict, adding that Emmanuel was brought up the same way.
Heather Joy, who celebrated her birthday last Oct. 12, just four days before her death, planned to work in Australia, just like her sister Elaine Grace was hoping to do.
But their dreams were cut short, by their own father’s hand.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 18, 2011.