Negros Occidental

Fifth child of farmer in Negros Occidental assumes responsibilities of slain father

Reymund Titong

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Fifth child of farmer in Negros Occidental assumes responsibilities of slain father

FAMILY PICTURE. A photo shows the Caramihan family weeks before the family's patriarch (left) was killed in an encounter in Escalante City on February 21.

Photo courtesy of Charlene Caramihan

Charlene Caramihan recounts taking on all of her father's obligations, including caring for her ailing mother, after her father was killed in an encounter between the Army and the NPA on February 21

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Charlene Caramihan, just 23 years old, felt the burden of being a father figure to her younger siblings after her father was killed in an armed encounter in Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan in Escalante City on February 21. 

Charlene told Rappler in an interview on Saturday, March 2, that she was still in shock over the untimely passing of her father, whom she described as a kind, caring, and good provider for their family of eight. 

She said that following her father’s death, she took on all of his obligations, including caring for her mother, who has heart problems, and her younger sibling, who was admitted to the hospital a month ago. 

Charlene added that right after the dreadful killing, they were fearful and left sleepless, believing there might be another encounter that could occur at any moment. 

“Wala me tadlong tulog. Wala ko ka skwela og 5 days. Tapos ang pangabuhian namo affected pud kay wala namay mo atiman sa among mga hayop, kag sa among uma,” she said. (We’re unable to sleep. For five days, I was unable to attend school. Our sources of income, such as our farm and the animals my father used to attend to, were also affected.)

Charlene never tried to hide how she felt, saying that even now, she still finds it hard to accept what happened to her father, still asserting that her father became collateral damage of the fighting between the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army (NPA).

Charlene still has faith that justice will be served.

The same pattern of assault occurred in southern Negros Occidental in 2023 when a tricycle driver hired to carry a group of non-combatant rebels was slain in what the military called a legitimate encounter.


Charlene recounted that she had a conversation with her father a few days before his death, in which she counted down the months until she would eventually don academic regalia, symbolizing her college graduation.

“Pa hapit na gd ko graduate pa, gamay na lng makasaka na nka og stage. Eg human pa, mo kuha ko og board exam,” she said. (It’s almost graduation time, Pa. Not too long now, and I get to walk on stage. I’m going to take a board exam after I graduate from college)

Charlene said that when she told her father that he would eventually have a child who would become a teacher, she said that he seemed more delighted than her. She also recalled the moment when her father told her to work harder because she was the family’s only hope. 

Even if their current situation was very difficult to deal with, she would look for other means just to realize her promise to her late father – to finish her education look for a decent job, and help her family. 

Charlene’s other siblings were no longer in their community as they already had their own families.

When asked if she was frightened to fight for her father’s justice, she said she was more worried about her mother’s and her siblings’ safety, since they might be singled out by those who see their call as a threat. 

Even though taking on all of her father’s responsibilities is challenging, she doesn’t see any need to give up; instead, she plans on using her strength to get up and confront what challenges life may bring. –

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