Divine (No) Mercy

 

Father,

I am now, as I was before, sincerely apologizing for the hurt and disgrace I have caused the institution and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.

Since I left the school, I have suffered the consequences of my actions. Life outside the institution has been a series of tribulations. Despite all of these, I am still thankful for the valuable lessons that made me a better person. It was, after all, a learning and humbling experience.

I do not wish for the institution to turn a blind eye to the offenses I have made, because it was worth every punishment ounce for ounce, but I appeal here and now for a second chance.

With my few remaining units, I am begging you to allow me one semester to finish and finally prove myself to be a worthy Divinian. My education is one of the most important keys I have for a better future and I hope that you would consider my plea.

Father, given the chance, I promise anonymity and isolation of myself from other students. I will be willing to undergo tutorial classes and should there be other conditions you have for me to be allowed to enroll again, I will respectfully accept them.

Please, Father, I am begging for your compassion and forgiveness.

Should my request be granted, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and chance that will be given to me.

Thank you and Godspeed.

*****

The letter, dear karikna, was written by Daryl Velasco, a former student of Divine Word College of Laoag. One of Daryl’s articles in DWCL’s The Williamite, where he was an editor, sparked controversy which led to his expulsion from the institution led by “Father,” the Father President Reynaldo B. Jimenez, SVD.

Without going into the merits of the case, let me say at the onset, as Daryl and his lola did in their letters of appeal to “Father” that the institution had every right to impose punishments it deemed appropriate. But while I concede that DWCL had every right in the legal arena, I have doubts whether they stand well in the realm of Christian charity and compassion.

I first met Daryl when we were preparing for the Ilocos Norte Debate Cup in 2010. I was one of the organizers and at the same time coach of the MMSU Debate Team. I always tell my debate trainees that if they want to be good debaters, they should not only talk like a debater, but look, walk, and even smell like a debater should. And that was what I saw, heard, and smelled, pound by pound, in Daryl.

When I conducted practice debates among students from MMSU, DWCL, and Northwestern University, Daryl was always very receptive to advice, and always worked hard to level up his performance. I knew he really wanted to achieve something. In that competition sponsored by then Provincial Board Member Kris Ablan, MMSU and DWCL eventually fought in the championship round. And which team won? DWCL. And who was best debater? Daryl.

Officials of the school, among them Prof. Romana L. Bitancor, the vice president for academic affairs, were very proud of the team, and they had their pictures taken with the winners up the stage. Naturally, they basked in their students’ glory. (Also part of the winning team was Jaime Lao, now a distinguished alumnus who was also ‘banned’ by DWCL for another reason rational people consider flimsy.)

Sadly though, same officials were quickest to shoo away this sheep entrusted to them because of mistakes he allegedly committed as a student journalist.  And the punishment of expulsion was handed down to him when he only had a few units left and a semester or two short from obtaining a degree in legal management. Meanwhile, the guidance counselor who had a big hand in kicking out Daryl now denies knowledge of the process. I asked myself when I learned about this if such punishment was not too much. Would a one-year suspension not have been enough?

What the expelled student found even more difficult was how to relay the situation to his mama who has been working as a house help in Malaysia since he was one year old. This took a very heavy toll on Daryl’s health. His blood pressure often shot up, and he had bouts with depression. In some instances, immediate trips to the hospital were necessary.

Daryl, however, chose to suffer mostly in his lonesome while remaining jolly in the company of friends. No debates about it, he was a bubbly, fun-loving, and light-hearted person who was very easy to love. The chubby and diminutive lad was not at all scary off the podium. The smiles and poses in his Facebook photos belie the cruel fate he had to face.

Two years out of school, he easily landed in jobs even without a college degree, first in a call center, then at the Laoag City Library as clerk. Last March, he made an appeal to “Father” coursed through Mrs. Bitancor, hoping that the school would reconsider. Daryl’s Lola Taciana who took care of him since childhood also wrote a moving letter, in Iluko and handwritten, humbly begging for Father’s mercy and forgiveness.

“…Ni Daryl laeng ti pangnamnamaanmi ken ni mamangna a mangtarabay kanyami, ta kayat koma pay ni mamang na ti agawiden, ngem gapu ti daytoy a napasamak ket saanen a natuloy. Apo, kaasiannakami kadi ta tulonganna kami a mapagraduar ni Daryl. Iyun-unaymi kadi iti pammakawan ken asiyo… Ket no patganyo man daytoy a kiddawmi, dakkel a yaman ken utang a naimbag a nakemmi kadakayo.”

According to Daryl’s friends, quoting what Daryl himself told them after following up on his appeal, this is what  a top-ranking school official said, “Your letter was finely written, of course, because you are a writer, but we don’t think you are sincere.”

Our dearest Daryl died of heart attack last week, Aug. 15, at age 23. His finest comrades in debate and writing, from various schools, paid tribute to him last Sunday. I have never, dear karikna, seen public speakers and journalists so lost for words.

The family said they refused a wake service offered by DWCL, and for obvious reasons.

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy,

slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

(Psalm 86:15)

23 Comments

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23 responses to “Divine (No) Mercy

  1. I don’t even know how to state my compassion about what happened to Daryl. Condolence to the family. We’ll pray for the repose of his soul. I also do hope that compassion and kindness from the hearts of those “workers of the Lord” will prevail over small solvable things….

  2. Shaeng

    I am not a writer like Daryl… i do not have the gift like you do Herdy. But as far as I understand when one speaks her thoughts and feelings, she affixes ownership in her closure. Similarly, when one writes, whether it be his own thoughts or others, in the end he assumes the ownership along with the responsibility and accountability to every word or punctuation on what has been written. While he was judged in the same realm he served the institution as a writer, still even in the end as he sought for forgiveness, he was still being judged on grounds of insincerity. You and I may very well understand the power of the pen but clearly, there is Someone more powerful than anything… or anybody…His experience leaves me in a quandary on how to define sincerity. I wonder if one’s own blood ink is always necessary to prove its essence. Rest in Peace Daryl for you will be judged by the most righteous of all. I will miss you

  3. Daryl was cheated of his education. When I was Associate Editor of NU ( then Northwestern College(NWC), I had a culumn entitled Batu-Bato sa langit, ang Tamaa’y Huwag maagalit.. Some of my articles were about Campus Fascism but I was never expelled nor reprimanded. To think that DWCL is a Catholic institution that should be first in compassion and understandingThe loss of Daryl is DWCL’s loss of credibility.

  4. tita lita

    WOW..i am appalled.thank you herdy for sharing this story and your thoughts…TO ERR IS HUMAN TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE ? FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY ARE DOING…how can you measure insincerity ?.may you rest in peace daryl.

  5. Divine (No) Mercy indeed, sir.

    I do not want to discuss religious stuff, but I think here’s the irony: Catholicism has teachings regarding forgiveness (ask God for forgiveness, then ask forgiveness to others as you forgive them too), yet its academic institutions are insensitive when it comes to punishments. Yes, they have their own rules, but expelling a student just because of what he writes on the student newspaper (which is the mouthpiece of the students, in the first place) is just a little too much.

    My condolences to the family of Mr. Velasco.

  6. Architect Clifford Teodoro Domingo

    How sad. May you rest in peace…

  7. Compassionate Boy

    And to Father Hitler, the misguided counselor, and all the power trippers at Divine, we wish you sound sleep.

  8. bebs1

    I follow your blog and I normally don’t leave comments but this time I will. They say power is addicting and this time the authorities in Divine has considered themselves demigods. They took the life of a promising boy, the hopes and pride of a mother and a grandmother – I wonder how these people could sleep soundly at night. May this incident haunt them for the rest of their lives and may they have more compassion next time.

  9. jaime

    JAIME

    The Guidance counselor told to Daryl that “Jaime Lao is just one vote”. She told that because she assumed that even if we had a hearing on Daryl’s case we will not win it, as she said I only have one vote. We never had a hearing on Daryl’s case. Criminals are more fortunate because they have their day in court, from there they can explain and defend themselves. I don’t understand why DWCL “a catholic institution” deny due process to Daryl. I’ve been a member of the disciplinary board as CSC President of DWCL and we had tried some cases with expulsion as its punishment but we gave consideration to graduating students. I knew that could happen to Daryl too, that’s why I told him to fight for his case but he told me that the school authorities guaranteed a graceful exit for him and will issue the necessary documents for his transfer in another school. That was a guaranty given to him so that he will no longer fight for his case. DUE PROCESS IS VERY ELEMENTARY, “FATHER”.

    And now, they denied Daryl’s appeal without even a formal case against him. For the top-ranking official who said that there was no sincerity on Daryl’s letter, I tell you, you must be looking at a mirror.

    Yes, Daryl may have done something wrong but life is all about second chances. Let us remember the story of the prodigal son who sinned against his father but he was forgiven because he asked for forgiveness. The father never doubted his son’s sincerity when his son returned to him. Now, DWCL Fathers doubted the sincerity of their returning son. Where is mercy and forgiveness?

  10. walter

    nice article, i think the old herdy is back, i like you more when you are fiery and you are not harking about the accomplishments of our local politicians. IMO, this incident will forever hound DWCL and their officials… may the GOOD LORD bless the soul of Darryl and may He also knock the heads of DWCL officials so that they may know the difference between FORGIVENESS and VENGEANCE.

  11. i was once a student of DWCL way back 2004 but moved in st jude college.mla and that is why i am so curious about the content of this blog. primarily, i am saddened for Mr. velasco’s granny and mom who’ve been hoping and begging for their son’s chance to make a dream come true. I hope the involved officials of DWCL will be considerate enough to their students wherein consideration and forgiveness is what they always aim as a catholic institution.RIP Mr velasco,do not cease to spread dat skill in heaven!

  12. En

    “God sees the truth but waits”

  13. Asiong

    Nice piece, Herdy! You’re really a very good wordsmith especially if your subject is about pertinent issues and not about some tradpols’ doing, which are their sworn duty to serve. Congrats for winning the Am3D writing contest…

  14. aianraquel

    My heart and soul go to daryl’s mother and lola.

  15. carlo

    I really appreciate your article Herdy. I have memories with Daryl when i was in college… DWCL officials should have been neutral in making the right decision to Daryl’s case… I know Daryl very well, for he was one of those Divinians who gave pride and honor to DWCL… I am a graduate of the said institution, all i thought DWCL is not just an Institution but also, where you can find FORMATION… All i thought DWCL is the Pride of the North but with what happened to Daryl, EVERYTHING CHANGED!
    Herdy you made me cry when I read your article… TWO THUMBSUP HERDY!

    just an experience about DWCL administration.. during my college life… i went to one of DWCL’s superior for some personal matters… right before me was a College student ( Girl) her business was to ask for financial assistance because her mother haven’t yet send her tuition fee for that semester and you know what the FATHER stated:

    Student: Father pwede po bang mag letter muna para maka test ako at makakuha ng permit? Kasi dipa po nakapagpadala ang nanay ko.( with soft voice and teary eyed)

    FATHER: BAT KA PA NAGENROL SA PRIVATE SCHOOL KUNG WALA KA NAMAN PALANG PANG TUITION!

    see how rude they are (administration) as far as i know we have different student loans ( with interest or without interest) at DWCL before where students can enjoy the benefits… hayzzzz share lang po!

  16. Mark Aadik

    We must never assume that a priest is good unless it is justified? boom !
    😀 hahaha

    How ironic Pader, but yes you have the excuse, “we are humans, we commit mistakes” line. tsk tsk.

    I want to know the reaction of Fr. Reynaldo B. Jimenez on this article. A thing to chew or to spit. That I want to know.

    PS:This article good !

  17. Donna

    Kaasi mammet aya ni Daryl! Apay met kasta ta Divine. Being a catholic school, nakababain.

  18. cris

    This is sad. Mg Daryl was the voice of DWCL student body. He left no words unspoken. He was a writer and a debater to the core. I pity the administrators, “Practice what you preach” never really applies to them. RIP kuya.

  19. Hi herdy, much better if you have mentioned the reason why Mr. Velasco was not given chance. This is a very bias article. I don’t Daryl personally though, and I wish he could have given chances. But the presentation of this article is bias. #areyouajournalist,really? :-/

  20. 2 years had gone by and I still can vividly see darryls sincerity but was not even given any chance .how could people ignore a sincere plea?and a religious school no less?
    to err is human to forgive is divine .

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