Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are we safe in our own homes?

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How do you tell a 3-year old kid that his Daddy will no longer be around to bring him to Timezone?

A week after they celebrated Father’s Day, my niece lost her husband in a most violent manner. Their kids – the younger one not even a year old, lost their father forever. They were together not more than four years, a young couple going through the ups and downs of building a bright, happy and secured future for themselves and their children. And then it was all over in a few minutes one early Saturday morning. It was so sudden, so unexpectedly brutal that we could not even begin to comprehend the gravity of the crime committed against this very young family.

At half past one in the morning of 27 June 2009, Douglas Duane Javier Lim – Dingdong to family and friends, went home to get ready for work. Work for him was the graveyard shift at the airport as a Special Agent of the Bureau of Immigration. As he always did, he went down his green Ford Expedition in front of their house in Bahay Toro in Quezon City and opened the gate. He then went back to the car, parked it inside the open garage and then went down again to close the gate.

Three successive gunshots punctuated the night air. Roused from sleep, his brother rushed outside to check the noise coming from the garage. Although still dazed, he saw two men by the gate and another one driving the Expedition out of the garage. When they saw him, they pointed the gun at him with the menacing look of the devil ready to drag him to hell. The two men then also boarded the car, all three of them now on the front seats, and then fled into the dark. Still too shocked and bewildered by what had just happened, he rushed to where the men left Dingdong.

Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw.

Dingdong was sprawled face down in the small walkway leading to the side of the house. He was bleeding profusely. His father and another brother, who had also gone out of the house, rushed the barely breathing Dingdong to the hospital. Although very weak from massive loss of blood, he managed to complain how hard it was for him to breath. And then he closed his eyes for the last time. Twenty minutes after he was admitted to the emergency room of the Capitol Medical Center, he was declared dead due to the gunshot wounds he sustained during the attack.

In what may have been less than 5 minutes, 34 years of a beautiful and promising life got ended violently. Nobody saw what really happened during those fatal minutes. The autopsy indicates gunpowder burn on his left hand. He could have held on to the gun when it fired, wounding his palm and wrist. There were also 2 shots in the chest, with one puncturing his lungs. Of the 2 chest wounds, one was inflicted while he had his back turned away from the gunman, and the other was inflicted while he was already sprawled on the pavement. The fatal shot went through the side of the abdomen, slicing through his liver, intestines and right kidney.

From this autopsy report, we can only try to painfully reconstruct those horror-filled final moments of his life: When he was already closing the gate, the three men suddenly barged in with a gun pointed at him. Startled, he might have tried to deflect the gun with his left hand. He was not left-handed, but it was the free hand at that time as he was probably using his right hand to close the sliding gate. The gun went off the first time while he was still holding it by the barrel, piercing his palm and wrist and then going though his abdomen area. Although already wounded, he might have managed to run away from his attackers. As he turned his back and made a dash for the house, the gunman shot him again. He might have fallen down, but still tried to make it to the house. The gunman still went after him, and with another merciless shot hit him in the chest while he was already down and bleeding.

And then as quickly as they came, they fled using Dingdong's own car as the getaway vehicle. The lone guard at the gate claims there were no other vehicles coming in or out at around the time of the crime. Nor did he find it strange that three unfamiliar men, who do not include Dingdong, would squeeze themselves in the front seat and drive like madmen through the exit.

The men who attacked Dingdong did not just leave behind a dying man. They also ended the hopes and aspirations of a young family who now must mourn his untimely death even as they ponder a future without a husband and a father. Theirs was a family trying to find its roots. Theirs was a love that have sailed through rough waters, and made it through each time. Theirs was a dream that was just beginning to unfold. With 3 shots of a gun, all these were gone.

It was a story straight out of the daily tabloids, the kind of news that screams out of our TV newscasts to feed on the insatiable hunger of the masses for sensationalized police stories. We smugly dismiss them as those things make us shrug our shoulders – shit happens to people, tough luck. We become complacent, jaded and apathetic even. Until it happens to us, or to people dear to us. Then suddenly we realize that just like everyone else we are fair game to criminals lurking in our streets, in the dark corners of our communities and even in the what is supposed to be safe havens of our homes - like vultures waiting for the right time to strike.

On Thursday, we sent Dingdong off to his final resting place. The endless rows of flower offerings and the many people who came to condole with the family at all hours of the day are testament to Dingdong's endearing and enduring ties with people he touched during his lifetime. When we looked at his fallen body for the last time, we remember his mischievous laughter, his ready smile and warm embraces and the many memories we shared in the short time he was part of our families. He leaves behind a grieving family and friends who must come to terms with not just the sudden loss, but more so with the senselessness of it all.

When asked if he wants to go to Timezone, Dingdong's little boy shook his head. Asked why not, he simply said, “Daddy’s gone”.

A husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend is gone - so soon and so painfully. So is our mistaken notion that we are safe in our own homes. Will we ever feel safe again?


You can post your online tributes and eulogies for Dingdong at




Anonymous said...

Hi Tito Den... I'll share this post in my facebook. Really sad to what happened to Kuya Dingdong, I hope the criminals get arrested asap so we can have justice.

- Jayson

Anonymous said...

"I know for certain that we can never lose the people we truly love, even after death. They continue to be there in each and every act, and play their role in any decision we make. They leave an inerasable imprint in our memories. We always find comfort in knowing that how sharing their love had enriched our lives.
You do not get over it easily, you just get through it. You do not get by it, because you can't get around it. It could not get better; it just keeps on getting different each day. Everyday... Grief puts you a new face...."

To my brother-in-law..whom we have deeply loved... indeed a great uncle to one of my angels in life...

God bless you Kuya Dingdong...We will truly miss you....