Mariannet Amper, sixth grade student of Maa Central Elementary School, second youngest in a brood of seven, daughter of Isabelo -- a carpenter -- and Magdalena -- a noodle factory worker -- both of whom earn P200 per week, hung herself with a nylon cord last November 7.
"Girl, 11, loses hope, hangs self" was splashed on the front page of the broadsheet which broke the story yesterday. It was a contradictory juxtaposition to the main headline which screamed boldly: "Senate probes cash gifts." Supporting that: "Inquiry to focus on source of money" and "Palace admits cash doles from Kampi."
As if to color the disparity further, a small banner produly proclaimed: "Forex reserves hit all-time high of $32.4B" while on the side: "11M Pinoys among 1B living on less than $1/day."
Hope comes in the form of a reality television program, "Wish Ko Lang!", a modern-day fairy godmother to the starving millions, including Mariannet Amper. Under the glare of lights and for the edification of many, "Wish Ko Lang" promises to grant you your fondest dreams.
In the case of Mariannet Amper: "I wish for new shoes, a bag and jobs for my mother and father. My dad does not have a job and my mom just gets laundry jobs." This, in an unsent letter to the fairy godmother.
But the modern-day fairy godmother works only once a week and grants wishes only two at a time. The other 11 million, unfortunately, must wait until next week. Or the next. Or the next. Which is better, then: to leave out one or two that you might have helped, or to dangle a thin hope to that one or two like a lottery on the condition of spectacle for all the rest?
In a corner of the broadsheet, the Archbishop of Lingayen accepts responsibility for Mariannet's Amper on behalf of all of us. "We are all to blame for her death," he is reported to have said.
Which brings to mind a story: A man entered a war-ravaged city. On the street he saw the body of a dead child. He took the body in his arms and wept copious tears over it, bewailing the cruelty of the world. He buried the body and went on his way.
Further along, he saw the bodies of a dozen more dead children. Distraught at the sight, he shed tears, and wrung his hands, and shook his head in grief, but he simply passed them by.
Finally, he came to a field, where there were scattered the bodies of hundreds and hundreds of dead children. At this, he simply turned up his nose and complained about the smell. "I wish," he said, "somebody would clean up this mess."