MANILA - The family of Ica Policarpio, the 17-year-old girl who went missing last week, on Tuesday finally spoke up about the incident.
In a post on Facebook, Ica's sister Bea Policarpio explained the circumstances behind her sister's disappearance.
"Thank you to everyone who has respected our request for privacy for the past 48 hours. This was only so our family could have a little time to recover from sleepless nights, as well as have some semblance of a normal Christmas. These were our first attempts at healing, though we are a long way from this," Bea wrote.
"I am writing this statement to update you on Ica and just really thank you all for your support in this search and give due credit to all the heroes who have helped us along the way," she added.
According to Bea, her sister's disappearance was not a prank.
"Firstly, I would like to clarify that I have learned first hand from my sister Ica that she had no knowledge whatsoever of any '48-hour challenge' (supposedly trending) in other parts of the world. She DID NOT join any such challenge. Her disappearance was not a prank," she wrote.
Bea said Ica went missing Thursday "out of deep emotional distress."
"The reasons for her distress are numerous and honestly, private. She is still being evaluated medically, and it is our family’s sole responsibility to understand what has caused her to carry so much pain not just in the recent past, but apparently, for several months, and even years prior. Be assured that we are doing everything we can to make sure that she receives the medical attention and emotional support that she needs," she wrote.
She also asked people not to judge her sister.
"At this point, she does not deserve our blind judgment and hate. She is only 17 years old, still a child. Please, we only beg that you do not judge her and that you help safeguard her future. If there’s anything positive that we hope can result from this experience, it is to raise awareness about the stigma of mental health and the growing culture of hate which unfortunately exists in our country’s cyberspace, and collective mind space. If anything, this hate culture is a desperate call for help. Let us answer this call with nothing but love, as difficult as this may be," Bea wrote.
The Policarpio family, through Bea's post, also thanked everyone who helped them find Ica, and apologized for the inconvenience they cause everyone.
Bea added that their parents hope their experience can serve as an eye-opener for other families to be more sensitive to their children's needs.
"Finally, my parents Joan & Rufino, just hope all parents can learn from our experience and take this as a wake up call to be more sensitive with their children’s emotional needs. As a family, we are really sorry for all the worry and inconvenience that we have caused everyone, especially at a season that is supposed to be joyful. It has truly been the worst experience we have ever had, but right now we are just so grateful that we have survived it, all thanks to everyone’s unbelievable support. Now it is our turn to learn and heal from this," she wrote.
Ica was found safe in San Pablo, Laguna Sunday, just in time for Christmas Eve with the help of netizens Archie Delos Santos, Yra Reyes and Danica Bragado, and tricycle driver Manuel Fronda.
A group in the Philippines is dedicated to helping those who are going through emotional difficulties.
The crisis hotlines of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation aim to make these individuals feel that someone is ready to listen to them.
These are their hotline numbers:
Information and Crisis Intervention Center
(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917-558-HOPE (4673) or (632) 211-4550
0917-852-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-6876
0917-842-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-4084
In Touch Crisis Lines:
0917-572-HOPE or (632) 211-1305
(02) 893-7606 (24/7)
(02) 893-7603 (Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm)
Globe (63917) 800.1123 or (632) 506.7314
Sun (63922) 893.8944 or (632) 346.8776