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MANILA, Philippines – On Tuesday, November 28, gunshots were heard in Nasugbu, Batangas, as troops from the Philippine Air Force and police clashed with suspected members of New People’s Army (NPA).
One of the bullets hit Josephine Santiago Lapira, a 22-year-old former student from the University of the Philippines-Manila.
She is one of the 15 alleged members of the communist fatalities from the encounter – 5 of whom were women. According to Major General Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, Lapira died while being treated in the hospital.
Activist in UP
When news about her death broke out, many of her friends took to social media to post their tributes to Josephine, whom they described as a tiny activist with big dreams.
Jo, as many friends call her, spent 6 years in UP-Manila. She entered the state university pursuing BA Development Studies degree. After a year, she shifted to BS Biochemistry because, according to her friends, she wanted to be a doctor.
She was an active youth leader in UP. In the academic year 2016-2017, Lapira served as the representative of the College of Arts and Sciences to the University Student Council.
Also having served as the deputy secretary general of Gabriela Youth in UP-Manila, Lapira’s favorite subjects outside of class were women’s issues and gender emancipation.
“Abante babae, palaban, militante!” she would shout during rallies in her signature pitch, according to Al Omaga, one of her friends in UP.
Omaga said that, earlier this year, Lapira decided to become a full-time activist.
“CAS hallways bore witness to her hard work in relentlessly holding room-to-room discussions and eagerly enjoining students to come and join snake rallies,” Omaga said.
She is a very responsible and a smart student, according to Cristina Tabag, one of her orgmates at ASAP Katipunan.
This was echoed by Omaga when he said that “she always had answers to difficult math problems and life questions – even questions that I had difficulties answering myself.”
Outside class, Jo is sweet and caring, according to Tabag. Her courage would show, however, every time she talked about the causes close to her heart.
“Pagdating sa social issues, lumalabas yung pagiging fierce niya. And very articulate pagdating sa mga educational discussions,” Tabag said in a phone interview with Rappler.
(When it comes to social issues, her fierceness would show. She is very articulate during educational discussions.)
Read the tributes posted by Jo Lapira’s friends on social media: