How the San Mateo road crash left a family broken
MANILA, Philippines – A family that can never be complete. This is what Joaquin Nonan will have to live through the rest of his life after losing his son last August 21.
His son, Kiesten Nonan, was only 17 years old when a tragic road crash took his life.
Joaquin recounted how it happened. His son initially asked permission to get a motorcycle. He wanted to convert it into a tricycle to earn some money.
A motorcycle rider himself, Joaquin refused. "Ang sabi ko, kapag motor ang pag-uusapan 'wag ka magpapaalam sa akin. Ayaw na ayaw ko 'yan. Marami sa nadidisgrasya sa motor, namamatay," he said in a phone interview.
(I told him not to ask permission from me when it comes to motorcycles. I really don't want him to own one because a lot of people who get into motorcycle crashes die.)
But to Joaquin's surprise, his son was able to buy a motorcycle from SYM Motorcycles without presenting a valid ID or proof of legal age to own one.
In the Philippines, motorcycle riders and pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 53% of reported road crash fatalities in the country involve riders of motorized two- or 3-wheeled vehicles. Pedestrians also comprise the second biggest chunk of road-user deaths at 19%.
On August 21, Kiesten became part of the statistics when he decided to use his motorcycle to do some errands accompanied by his friend.
While driving to their destination, they passed by an uneven part of the San Mateo Road which caused them to lose balance and fall to the ground. (READ: Uneven road condition in Isabela caused teenager's death )
His friend was able to push and jump from the motorcycle before hitting the pavement. Kiesten was not wearing any helmet, unfortunately, when the incident happened. He died reportedly from excessive bleeding due to the strong impact of the crash.
Joaquin then took to social media to share his frustration over the poor road condition which caused the death of his son.
When Joaquin found out about the tragedy, he felt helpless. He knew that because Kiesten was still a minor, he was not supposed to be riding a motorcycle. Out of shock, he was speechless when he first learned about the incident.
"Hindi ko pa rin matanggap hanggang ngayon. Every time kasi nalilingon ako sa bahay, nandoon kasi 'yung memory n'ya eh. Panganay ko kasi 'yan eh," the grieving father said. (I still can't accept it until now. Every time I look around the house, I remember him. He is my first-born.)
The tragedy not only affected his family but also his work. His boss even noticed a decline in his work performance.
"Sa totoo lang, merong times na tulala ako. Pagkaalam nila nakatutok ako sa monitor ng computer pero picture pala ng anak ko 'andoon," said Joaquin. (To be honest, there are times when I would catch myself just staring at my computer screen at work. People at work think I am so focused on a task but I'm actually just staring at a picture of my son.)
Aside from the feeling of loss that their family is experiencing, they have also become financially hard up, after having gone into debt.
Hospitalization and funeral expenses amounted to P130,000. Joaquin was forced to borrow P50,000 from his company. Even with that, they still haven't fully paid for the funeral services and will have to continue paying for the motorcycle of his son.
It's been a struggle for their family since Joaquin earns only a minimum wage, while his wife earns only P5,000 a month.
"Wala [kasi] akong prepared na pera. Yung sinasahod ko tama lang sa pamilya. Hindi ko talaga inaasahan ito eh. Kampante ako na kayang-kaya niya. Every day ko siyang pinapaalala na mag-ingat," he said.
(I don't have any money prepared. My salary is just enough for the family. I really didn't expect this to happen because I thought he could take care of himself. I reminded him every day to be careful.)
According to a study funded by the Department of Health, the estimated cost of road traffic injuries in 2014 was P76.2 million per day. Estimates cover hospital bills, medical supplies, medical tests, and other indirect expenses.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that most of the road crash victims come from the working age group.
The study also included the estimated loss of income brought about by road crashes – reached by multiplying the average wage of a person by his/her assumed productive years (18 to 59 years old). The estimated loss of income was said to reach up to P21.5 billion in 2014. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines )
In his Facebook post, Joaquin urges the local Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to fix the road because of the frequent occurrence of road crashes in that area. He said his son was not its first and last victim.
While the local DPWH already has plans to improve the road, Joaquin said it won't bring his son back to life.
Despite the daily longing for Kiesten, Joaquin said he has no choice but to focus on paying all his debt and accepting the fate of his son. – Rappler.com
Joaquin and his family are accepting donations. If you want to help, contributions can be deposited to the bank account of his wife. Details are as follows:
- Name: Joyleen Magandan Nonan
- Bank: Landbank, S. Oliveros Bldg, 151 M.L. Quezon Street, Antipolo City, Rizal
- Savings Account number: 1416-1439-31
In the Philippines, an average of more than 600 children died from road crash incidents from 2006 to 2015. Seat belts can save lives but infants and children need a more specific type of car seats for them in case of a road mishap.
Want to know more about child safety car seats? Here are some stories:
Learn more about Rappler's road safety campaign by visiting the #SaferRoadsPH microsite.