Three lives were lost in the shooting incident that happened Sunday inside the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) campus: former Lamitan, Basilan Mayor Rose Furigay, her long-time aide Victor Capistrano, and campus security guard Jeneven Bandiala. Following the news of their death, messages of sadness and sympathy poured out on social media for the three, but Ateneo alumni and community members were especially heartbroken by Bandiala’s demise.
A member of the Ateneo community (who asked that his name not be mentioned) shared on Facebook a conversation he had with the Ateneo guards stationed at Gate 3 hours after their comrade was killed. “They recounted what happened earlier this day and how SG Jeneven Bandiala tried to stop the gunman from entering the campus,” he wrote.
According to the Loyola School of Theology student, the security guards were mourning the death of their colleague who they remember as “kaibigan, kumpare, at kakuwentuhan.” But while they are heartbroken for losing Bandiala, they said he did what the situation called for. “Ginawa niya ang tama at baon niya yun kung saan man siya ngayon. Di yun mawawala sa kanya. Mas mabuti pa rin gumawa ng kabutihan kaysa kasamaan,” the security guards said.
Other members of the Ateneo community also took to social media to express their gratitude not only for the slain Bandiala but for the other security guards on campus who over the years have not only provided the studentry and faculty protection but also comfort and friendship.
“The guards greet us in our halls—and with big smiles they wish us good morning and bid us goodnight, day in and day out,” Paulina Alejandro shared on Facebook. “We share laughs with them, occasional inside jokes and some selfies, sometimes they scold us when we don’t have our IDs (but usually they just let us off easy and just say ‘next time po ah’). Some lend us umbrellas when it rains, or keep us company when our rides are running late.”
For playing a big part in their academic lives, Alejandro says some Ateneo students even give the security guards their blue roses on their graduation as a gesture of gratitude. “They remember our faces and we remember theirs. Ateneo is our home, these people are our family. We mourn our losses and we condemn this unjust act of violence. Rest in Peace, Sir Jeneven Bandiala.”
On Twitter, @gabrielle_ayen attested to the warmth and kindness of ADMU security personnel. “Not only have they made it a habit to greet students ‘good morning/afternoon/evening,’” she said in a tweet, but also the guards say “good luck!” when students enter the university during finals. “Ngiti nila ang sumasalubong sa bawat pagtapak ko sa Ateneo,” the rest of her tweet went.
Wheng Aguilar Florano posted a message on social media on behalf of the Ateneo Security Detachment who shared their pride for their comrade’s heroism as well as their sadness for losing a team member. “R.I.P sayo SG Jeneven Bandiala...proud kami sayo bayani ka sa ginawa mo sobrang nakakalungkot lang dahil Hindi kana namin makakasama at makikita kahit kailan Isang alamat ito Hindi Hindi ka namin makakalimutan....snappy salute para sayo...Mula samin...”
ADMU philosophy professor Marc Pasco proudly acknowledged Ateneans who thought of “putting a face” to Bandiala. “It is a good reminder that there are so many others like him who lose their lives (sometimes slowly) but are not recognized as individual human beings. As Levinas says, a Face is a singular and irreplaceable Other.”
ADMU alumnus and former Pnoy speech writer Gian Lao also paid tribute to Bandiala for his selfless act. “Hearing a gunshot, he chose not to run from it, but towards it. What he did was heroic,” he wrote. “And as someone with loved ones in Ateneo, I am indebted to him.”
Lao also acknowledged the need for the nation to have a serious discussion about the plight of security guards, famously underpaid despite the fact that they risk their lives every day for the protection of others. “I hope we can have a real conversation about what it means to be a security guard in the Philippines—about what we ask of them, and what they get in return.”
David Michael San Juan echoed the same sentiment, pointing out that many security guards in the country do not receive proper compensation and the work benefits due them. “Daming sekyu ay kontraktwal or ‘renewable forever,’” he said, “at kundi man minimum wage [ang sahod] e slightly above minimum wage na taxable pa. Wala ring supplementary health benefits bukod sa PhilHealth na alam naman nating halos useless sa mga matagalang pagpapaospital atbp. Sana nga ay mapansin naman ang kanilang sitwasyon.”
Meanwhile, labor leader, human rights activist, and ADMU alum Atty. Luke Espiritu urged Filipinos to fight impunity and barbarism in our society, and uphold democracy and human rights. “Hustisya sa mga napaslang sa Ateneo kanina, lalo na sa manggagawang security guard na si Jeneven Bandiola na nagbuwis ng buhay para maipagtanggol ang mga inosenteng estudyante,” Espiritu said in a tweet.
The respected poet and Ateneo associate professor DM Reyes wrote a moving tribute a few hours ago to Bandiala’s heroism and selfless act, commending the security guard for performing his duty as protector of the ADMU community to the very last. Here are a couple of excerpts from his Facebook post:
“Hanggang sa huli, nanatiling laan para sa nakararami ang puso ni Jeneven: sa mga estudyante na nagtamo ng karapatan na magdiwang sa araw na iyon. At nang bantaan ang karapatan nila, si Jeneven ang unang nakakita. Tumugon siya para magtanggol—maliksi ang isip at walang takot. Iniharang niya ang sariling katawan laban sa mga balang walang habas na ipinuputok ng birador.”
“Hanggang sa pinakahuling sandali, iginalang at walang-dayang sinunod ng security guard na si Jeneven ang mga alituntunin ng paglilingkod. Noong araw na iyon, may munting bayan siyang dapat pangalagaan. Noong araw na iyon, may katipunan siyang dapat ipagsanggalang. Hanggang sa huli, nanatiling tapat ang puso ni Jeneven sa kanyang munting bayan.”