PEP CONFESSIONS: Janelle Manahan painfully recalls Ram Revilla's murder in 2011

IMAGE Arniel Serato / PEP File

Janelle Manahan dismayed by slow justice system in the country: "Ang akin na lang, if not here, justice siguro will be served siguro in the afterlife or something. Maybe they won't be convicted here but there's God who can, you know, who will judge them on judgment day."


Ngayong araw, October 28, ang ika-pitong anibersaryo ng malagim na pagkamatay ng aktor na si Ram Revilla.

At hanggang ngayon, sariwa pa rin sa alaala ng girlfriend nito noong si Janelle Manahan ang mapait na yugtong ito ng kanyang buhay.

 IMAGE File

Si Ram ay pinaslang bago maghatinggabi ng Oktubre 28, 2011, sa bahay nito sa BF Homes, Parañaque.

Nasaksihan ni Janelle ang krimen dahil magkasama sila ni Ram sa loob ng kuwarto at muntik na rin siyang masawi.

Couple Janelle Manahan and Ramgen "Ram" Revilla
 IMAGE File

Sinaksak at binaril si Ram—23 taong gulang noong panahon ng kanyang kamatayan—ng hired killers na kalaunan ay napag-alamang binayaran umano ng mga nakababatang kapatid nitong sina Ramona “Mara” Bautista at Ramon Joseph “RJ” Bautista.

Sina Ram, Ramona, at RJ ay tatlo sa anim na anak ng dating aktor at senador na si Ramon Revilla Sr. kay Genelyn Magsaysay.

Ramgen with his siblings Ramona and RJ Bautista.
 IMAGE File / Sceengrab from ABS-CBN / Facebook

Katulad ng kanyang ama at iba pang mga kamag-anak sa Revilla/Bautista clan, pinasok din ni Ram ang pag-aartista.

Ipinakilala siya sa pelikulang Anak Ka ng Tatay Mo noong 2004.

Lumabas din siya sa mga pelikulang Exodus (2005) at Resiklo (2007) na parehong pinagbidahan ng kanyang kapatid sa ama na si dating Senador Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

Si Janelle naman ay naging finalist sa artista search ng ABS-CBN na Star Circle Quest Season 2, kung saan ang itinanghal na Grand Teen Questor ay si Erich Gonzales.

Sa mga naunang testimonya ni Janelle noon sa korte, sinabi nitong noong October 28, 2011, bandang 11:30 ng gabi, nang may kumatok sa bahay nina Ram.

Ang nagbukas daw ng pinto ay ang kapatid ni Ram na si Ramona.

Dito na raw pumasok ang ilang mga nakamaskarang tao na pinagbabaril at pinagsasaksak si Ram.

Binalingan din ng mga suspek si Janelle at binaril ng dalawang beses—isa sa kaliwang bahagi ng kanyang mukha at isa sa balikat.

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Naisugod pa sila noon sa Parañaque Medical Center ngunit idineklarang dead on arrival si Ram bandang 12:15 ng madaling-araw ng October 29.  

Samantala, si Janelle ay inilipat sa Asian Medical Center at nanatili roon ng isang buwan upang magpagaling.


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PURPOSE OF SURVIVAL

Dalawang araw bago ang ika-pitong anibersaryo ng kamatayan ni Ram Revilla, nagpaunlak ng eksklusibong panayam si Janelle Manahan sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), Biyernes ng hapon, October 26, sa kanyang opisina sa Makati City.

Sa kasalukuyan ay 29 years old na si Janelle at isa nang financial advisor.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

Sariwa pa raw sa isipan ni Janelle ang malagim na pagkamatay ni Ram.

Lumuluhang pahayag niya, “Yun yung weird kasi, di ba kasi, yung ibang stuff na nangyayari every day or the people that I met, may lapses yung memory ko.

“But for some reason, yung event nung night na yun, everything that happened, every minute, every second yata, tanda ko pa rin.

“Kasi I tried to not to go back… I try not to go back to it kasi mahirap pa rin siya.

"Para sa akin kasi, feeling ko, parang kahapon lang siya, it’s still so fresh.

“Kahit sobrang ano yung memory, pero it’s still so fresh.

"Parang kahapon lang siya or last week lang siya, parang ganun lang. Yun lang.

“Kapag binabalikan ko siya, hindi ko pa rin ma-control, although sobrang tagal na.

"But yun nga siguro, if I will recall what happened, hindi ko siguro... just to cut it short, hindi ko alam paano ako nabuhay."

Inalala ni Janelle kung paanong pinasok ng hired gunman ang kuwarto ni Ram kung saan naroon silang tatlo nina Ramona.

Milagrong hindi raw siya tinamaan ng bala sa ulo sa kabila nang malapitang pagbaril sa kanya ng dalawang beses ng hired gunman.

Iminuwestra pa ni Janelle ang puwesto ng gunman at kung paano siya nabaril sa mukha at sa balikat.

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Pagkatapos ay narinig na lang niya ang komosyon nang manlaban si Ram sa hired gunman sa labas ng kuwarto nito.

Hanggang ngayon ay hindi raw lubusang maisip ni Janelle kung saan siya kumuha ng lakas ng loob upang magkunwaring hindi na humihinga nang maramdaman niyang nilapitan siya ni Ramona upang i-check kung rumuresponde pa siya.

Nang makalabas si Ramona ng kuwarto, nang anito'y hinihingi ito ng tulong, ay saka lang daw bumangon si Janelle upang isarado ang pinto at mga bintana ng kuwarto ni Ram.

Nakuha ring mag-text ni Janelle sa kanyang ina at ilang malapit na kaibigan upang humingi ng tulong. Noon lang daw may dumating na ambulansiya upang bigyang-saklolo sila ni Ram.

Patuloy ni Janelle, “I’m very grateful na nabuhay ako kasi they could have killed me already.

“But thankfully, hindi ko talaga alam, but yun, I lived. Siguro kasi may purpose.

"Kasi iniisip ko lagi, kung namatay ako that day, they can easily make up stories, I’m sure, kasi meron nang script yun, di ba?

“But then, yun nga siguro, I lived for the purpose of telling the people kung ano talaga yung nangyari.”

Sa loob ng isang buwang pagka-confine ni Janelle sa ospital ay hindi raw niya alam na pumanaw ang kanyang nobyo.

Ang huling alaala ni Janelle nang nasa loob sila ng ambulansiya ni Ramgen ay bahagyang rumesponde pa ang binata kaya buong-akala niya ay mabubuhay ito.

Nang malaman ang sinapit ng nobyo at mapanood sa balita ang inconsistent na testimonya ni Ramona hinggil sa insidente, nagdesisyon si Janelle na ihayag ang katotohanan sa pamamagitan ng kanyang witness account, kahit pa ang kapalit nito ay malagay sa alanganin ang kanyang buhay.


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THE MOTIVE

Hindi pa rin daw lubos maintindihan ni Janelle kung bakit kaya ng isang taong patayin o ipapatay ang sarili nitong kapatid dahil lamang sa pera.

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Sa kaso ni Ram, wala raw siyang nakikitang ibang motibo sa pagkakapaslang nito kundi pera.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

Pagbabalik-tanaw ni Janelle, “Yung part na yun kasi, for other people it’s very hard to imagine, although ako rin nung una, nagulat rin talaga ako.

“But then, taking everything into consideration na nalaman ko after nung investigation, siguro every person under the influence of something is, alam mo yun, could think of yung pinaka-demonic na ano.

“Siguro relationship didn’t play a part na sa utak nila kaya nila nagawa yun.

“Naiinis ako kasi I know how he loved them as a brother, na na-misinterpret lang talaga yung guidance niya."

Bilang panganay sa magkakapatid, si Ram daw ang tumayong padre de pamilya sa kanyang ina at mga kapatid.

Kay Ram din ipinagkatiwala ng ama nitong si dating Senator Ramon Revilla ang monthly allowance nila na nagkakahalaga diumano ng PHP1 million.

Ayon kay Janelle, mahigpit si Ram sa pamamahala ng monthly allowance at panggastos nila sa bahay.

“Medyo sobrang strict... hindi medyo, sobrang strict kasi talaga niya as a brother.

"So I guess, yun, napagod ata yung mga kapatid niya and na-misinterpret.

"But it was actually love, he wanted the best for them, but then siguro sumobra."

Sina RJ at Ramona Bautista ang inakusahang nagpapatay sa sarili nilang kapatid.

Si RJ ay kasalukuyang nakakulong sa Parañaque City Jail habang hinihintay ang hatol ng husgado sa kaso nitong murder at frustrated murder.

RJ Bautista (in printed black-and-white top) inside Parañaque Police Station.
 IMAGE Abby Mendoza

Kasama ni RJ sa piitan ang iba pang mga akusado na sina Roy Francis Tolisora, Glaiza Visda, Norwin de la Cruz, Michael Nartea, at Ryan Pastera.

Si Ramona naman ay patuloy pa ring pinaghahanap ng mga awtoridad matapos itong tumakas palabas ng bansa. Pinaniniwalaang nasa Turkey ito ngayon.

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Kasama na ang kanyang pangalan sa Red Notice List ng Interpol kung saan puwede itong dakpin sa mga kaanib na bansa na mayroong extradition treaty o kasunduan ang Pilipinas.

Ayon sa mga suspek, pinangakuan sila nina Ramona at RJ ng tig-PHP200K upang patayin si Ram.


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PRAYING FOR RAM’S SOUL

Sa loob ng halos pitong taon, lagi raw ipinagdarasal ni Janelle ang katahimikan ng kaluluwa ni Ram.

May mga pagkakataon pa rin daw na napapanaginipan niya ito.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

Kuwento niya sa PEP.ph, “Actually hanggang ngayon, kailan ba yung huli? I think last week, nagising ako in the middle of the night, kasi napapanaginipan ko siya.

“'Tapos, I would always wonder why, kasi hindi ko naman… well, iniisip ko siya in a way na I pray for his soul, di ba, every night, along with other mga patay na loved ones ko.

"But may iniisip… na iniisip ko pa talaga siya, hindi ko na naman ginagawa yun.

“So sometimes I wonder kung bakit napapanaginipan ko pa rin siya.

"So when I do, I just pray for him somewhere na baka may something na bothering him pa or... I don’t know.

“'Tsaka yung dreams kasi, parang wala namang message or I don’t know... or I just don’t dwell on finding out kung ano ba yung message, basta andun lang siya.

“And that he’s, like, alive, parang ganun.”

Kapag sumasapit ang anibersaryo ng kamatayan ni Ram, nagpapamisa raw si Janelle para sa namayapang boyfriend.

“Nagsisimba ako and I offer a mass for him and, yun nga, nasa bahay lang talaga ako.

“I try not to go out especially at night, nasa bahay lang talaga ako.

"But this year, this Sunday, I'll try to overcome that fear.

“Hindi ko lang alam paano, but I just want to overcome the fear na feeling ko by 11-something, someone’s always gonna knock."

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Ayon kay Janelle, mahirap balikan ang oras na pasado alas-onse ng gabi tuwing October 28.

Bandang 11:30 ng gabi napasok ng mga hired gunmen ang bahay nina Ram sa Parañaque.

“Actually, until now, I’m very paranoid with my security.

"But, yun nga, I mean, if something’s gonna happen to me, I’m not afraid to die.

"Kasi I think, like, half of the purpose why I lived na-serve ko na nga, which is to tell the truth.

“But if there is something else na purpose ko kasi I’m still alive, but you know, if something is [going] to happen to me, I’m not scared.

“I’m scared not because mamamatay ako, but because of the people I will leave behind.”


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SLOW JUSTICE SYSTEM

Kahit umaasang mapanagot pa rin sa batas ang mga akusado sa pagpatay kay Ram, unti-unti na raw nawawalan ng pag-asa si Janelle na ma-convict ang mga ito.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

Hanggang ngayon kasi ay dinidinig pa ng korte ang kasong murder at frustrated murder na isinampa laban sa mga akusado sa Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 274.

RJ Bautista (left), Roy Francis Tolisora (center), and Michael Nartea during their arraignment at the Parañaque RTC last January 2012.
 IMAGE Courtesy: GMA News

Inalam ng PEP.ph kay Janelle ang update sa mga kasong kinakaharap nina RJ at iba pang suspek.

Saad niya, “Well, wala pa rin, yung huling update lang sa akin ng lawyer ko is nagpi-present na raw ng ibang witnesses, pero kasi ang tagal kasi.

“Nung bago siya, nung may media exposure, feeling ko dahil may media exposure, every other week talaga merong hearing, halos every week nga ata.

“Pero inuna kasi nila ako. So lahat nung sasabihin ko, pinaubos na nila sa akin, yung testimony ko.

“So, ano yun, parang I think for four, five months dire-diretso yun.

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“'Tapos nung medyo nag-die down na yun sa media, since hindi na rin siguro siya namu-monitor ng media, bumagal na, bumagal na.

“So medyo OA naman kung after six years, let’s say six years since tumigil akong mag-testify, wala pa ring movement sa case.

"Although, nakakulong naman sila, so yun na lang ang iniisip ko."

Dagdag pa ni Janelle, “Yung brother niyang isa, si RJ, 'tapos yung iba, yung mga hired nila na hindi ko kilala, dalawang lalaki ata yun na hinire nila, 'tapos yung isang girl."

Hindi si Ramona ang tinutukoy ni Janella.

“Si Ramona kasi, yung sister, pina-cancel namin yung Philippine passport niya, so hindi siya makakabalik talaga dito, so nasa Turkey siya.

“Sa magkakapatid, isa lang yung nakakulong, and then the rest, yung mga kasabwat nila na sa totoo lang nakalimutan ko na yung mga names nila.”

Ipinasa-Diyos na lamang daw ni Janelle kung kailan nila makakamit ang hustisya para kay Ram at para na rin sa kanya.

Aniya, “Well, ever since naman, ang iniisip ko na lang, kasi mahirap naman talaga yung justice system dito, e.

“At first, I was hopeful kasi nga yung mga evidence talagang directing to them already, na sila nga yung may gawa.

“But then, I guess, sa sobrang bagal ng justice system dito... and I don’t understand why hindi pa rin sila naku-convict.

“Siguro that’s the part na ni-let go ko na rin. Na, I’m hopeful, pero parang medyo since sobrang bagal, parang it was imposible to convict them.

“So, ang akin na lang, if not here, justice siguro will be served siguro in the afterlife or something.

“So, yun na lang iniisip ko, maybe they won’t be convicted here but there’s God who can, you know, who will judge them on judgment day.

“So, yun na lang. And then yung conscience nila, it’s hard to live with it.

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"Sana naman meron pa sila nun, di ba?

“Siguro now na mas mature [na sila], they realized kung ano yung gravity nung ginawa nila, and I hope na pinagsisihan nila kung ano man yung nagawa nila, di ba?

“Maybe it was a bit too shallow, the reason was a bit too shallow for them to kill someone, especially yung kuya nila.”

May komunikasyon pa ba siya sa pamilya ni Ram?

Ayon kay Janelle, “Yung kapatid niya? Immediate family? Wala na talaga at all.

"Although sa Facebook, friends ko pa din yung mga anak ni Kuya Bong... yung mga pinsan nila, yung mga tita nila, ganyan, friends ko pa din sila.

“Pero yung magkikita talaga or to actually talk to each other, wala nang ganun.”


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MOVING ON AFTER THE INCIDENT

 IMAGE Arniel Searto

Ilang taon ang lumipas bago siya naka-move on mula sa pangyayari?

Tugon ni Janelle, “Ang hirap sabihin. Moved on? Well, different, iba-iba kasi siya, e.

“Moved on psychologically, yung trauma, hindi pa ata.

"Kasi every October 28, nag-i-stay lang talaga ako sa bahay.

“Napapraning pa rin ako na feeling ko kapag may kumatok, may ganun pa rin, feeling ko, it will happen again, parang ganun.

“Pero emotionally, I don’t think you can say moved on from it or you’re healed from it.

“You just have to cope with it, parang ganun ata yung nangyari sa akin."

Inamin ni Janelle na may boyfriend siya at apat na taon na ang kanilang relasyon.

Saad niya, “Tsaka siguro when it comes to relationship, may boyfriend ako, medyo hindi naman yata proper na I haven’t moved on emotionally having another guy, di ba?

“But yun nga, although yung acceptance na rin, wala, nandiyan na iyan, e, he is not gonna come back, ganyan.

"Dun sa part na yun, yun yung nag-decide talaga ako mag-move on.

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“Although, yung first year nung nangyari yun, sabi ko hindi na ako mag-aasawa na, hindi na ako magbo-boyfriend, pero pinagtatawanan lang ako ng family ko.

"'Tapos dun ko na-realize na time will heal you also.

"'Tapos parang hindi naman sa sinasabi ko na love is very important for you to be happy in life, pero hindi mo rin kasi maku-control na, di ba, you need someone, yung ganun.”

Naging daan din daw ang malagim na insidenteng iyon upang muling manumbalik ang kanyang paniniwala sa Diyos.

Paliwanag ni Janelle, “From that time kasi na nangyayari yun, I wasn’t going to mass also, kasi nga Born Again sila, di ba, so naputol din yung relationship ko with God.

“But then, after that incident... kasi feeling ko nung gabi na yun, I was really gonna die.

“So nagpi-pray na talaga ako na nagso-sorry na ako sa sins ko, ganyan.

"Yun na talaga yung prayer ko kasi, in case na mamatay ako, at least nakapag-sorry ako.

“But then, when I lived, I surrendered my life talaga 100 percent to Him, kasi parang it’s very rare for…

"It's very rare to be given a second chance, especially nung incident na yun na puwede naman nila akong balikan and make sure na patay ako talaga, para walang magsasalita.

"So I was lucky enough to survive.

“So, yun pa lang, yung second life ko pa lang, I’m very grateful.

"So, yun siguro, after nun, mas naging strong yung relationship ko with God.

"And hindi na ako katulad nung dati na, before the incident, puro reklamo-reklamo.

"Ngayon, I realized na good or bad, it happens for a reason talaga, so accept lang ako nang accept.”

Ipinagpasalamat din ni Janelle na mayroon siyang strong support system mula sa kanyang pamilya, lalo na ang kanyang ina.

“Siguro, si Mommy. Pero yung buong family ko naman kasi they’re very prayerful, they’re very religious.

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"So, sila actually ang tumulong sa akin to move on faster.

"Kasi siyempre, yung nangyari, yung may galit ako, but then sabi nila, ‘What's that anger gonna do to you?’

“So sabi nila, ‘You have to forgive.’

“So every time someone would ask me kung napatawad ko na ba sila, matagal na.

"Kasi, I mean, if you think about it, masakit na nagawa nila yun, but then if I won’t forgive them, ako rin yung may heavy feeling, e.

“So, matagal ko na talaga sila finorgive.

"That’s why, yun nga, with your question kanina about justice, kung ano yung gusto ko mangyari, I lift it all up to God na lang, bahala na.

"Kasi if not here, di ba, in the other life.”

MESSAGE FOR RAM

Kahit masasabing nakaalagwa na siya sa nakaraan nila ng yumaong nobyo, hinding-hindi raw ito mawawala sa kanyang isipan.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

“Forget, siguro as a boyfriend dati.

"Siguro, oo na, kasi siyempre seven years na yun.

"Pero kung nakalimutan as a person, siyempre hindi.

“Kasi every night pa din tina-try ko na ipag-pray yung soul niya kasi siyempre…

"Well, misguided nga kasi siya while he was still alive, so he didn’t really believe in God, mga ganyan, kaya pinagpi-pray ko lang siya evey night.”

Napaiyak muli si Janelle nang tanungin namin kung ano ang gusto niyang sabihin kay Ram sakaling makarating sa kabilang mundo ang mensahe niya.

“Well, I talk to him pa din naman, I pray for him.

“Ano kasi, when… before the incident happened, kasi nga, di ba, we weren’t really together that time, we had a talk lang.

“Pero sabi niya lang, kasi I told him about this guy that I started seeing that time, so parang sabi niya, ayaw niya dun.

“Sabi niya, ‘If you’re gonna be in a relationship, find na hindi siya, find someone who’s gonna take care of you.’

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“So siguro he knows naman na if he’s here, I’m sure he can say naman na I’m taken cared of, yun lang.

“I hope, kasi ayaw niya ng ano... I’m sure he’s proud of what I’ve become also.

“Kasi, as much as possible, ayaw niya nung nilaladlad ko lahat about sa life ko, and I’m sure he knows I’m still protective of his family.

“So, yun nga, kaya medyo it hurts me also when they say na sinisiraan ko sila, because I still have a lot to say if I am going to say things.

"But I’m not doing that kasi I’m still protective of their family. So, yun lang."

STRONGER JANELLE

Sa lahat ng kanyang pinagdaanan, pinatapang daw si Janelle sa pagharap ng mga pagsubok na patuloy na dumarating sa kanya.

 IMAGE Arniel Serato

Pahayag niya, “Matapang? Siguro, in a way, in facing trials. Pero matapang na walang fear, hindi, e.

“Mas may fear ako kasi nga paranoid nga ako na may mangyayari sa akin.

"So, sobrang dudera ko talaga sa lahat ng tao that I met, ganyan, feeling ko baka way ito ng kabila or ganyan, so may mga ganung paranoia pa din.

“But yung pagiging brave ko when it comes to facing challenges, I guess yun yung nadulot niyang good.

“But yung totally tanggal yung fear na there’s something bad na may mangyayari sa akin, iyan yung siguro naging ten times more pa until now.”

Sa kabilang banda, sinabi rin ni Janelle na kung buhay pa si Ram, posibleng kasal na sila at may mga anak na.

Pag-alala niya, “Andun na yun kasi ang tagal na kasi namin. Siguro I was 16 or 17 nung naging kami.

“And then, di ba, nag-live in kami, so parang given na yun na nandun na yung plans.

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“Dapat kasi tatakbo siya nun as a councilor, if I remember it correctly, 'tapos sabi niya, after the election we’ll settle down.

“Pero magulo talaga yung relationship namin, actually on-off.

“That time actually, we weren’t really together nung time na nangyari yun.

“But then, I was there kasi he said he still wanted to fix things.

“So ako naman, hindi ko alam kung bakit ako andun that time, we weren’t really together anymore.

“Siguro mga one month or more than a month na kaming wala nung time na yun, but then we remained good friends.

"And then, that plan nga, he should be able to fix everything after the election, we’ll settle down.

"Yun naman talaga ang balak namin, mga by 25 [years old], ganyan.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lead Correspondent, Top Story Man '12, Stringer of the Year '13, Top Contributor '14, Staff Reporter of the Year '15-'16 @arnielcserato (Twitter/Instagram)


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