A Tragic Accident in Ateneo

I was not about to blog about this as I still have a heavy heart. But I realize that LIFE has its happy and sad moments and both, combined, make up our human-ness.

My girls, who study in Ateneo, gave me a heads-up last night on the tragic car accident that claimed the life of a Gr. 4 10-year old boy inside the school grounds. His name was Julian Carlo Miguel (Amiel) Alcantara.

My friend Cathy has most of the details in her blog. As details unfold, it appears Amiel and his yaya stepped out of their car to get some food in the school canteen. Meanwhile, a 30-ish Mom in her van had taken over the driver’s seat while her driver went to get her son. Amiel and yaya were going back to their car when the Mom moved the van. Accounts differ as to whether the van was in front, behind or alongside Amiel. But it looks like the mom stepped on the gas instead of the brakes. Amiel is crushed between two cars and has to be retrieved, bloodied, from underneath. He does not survive. Amiel’s 7th grade older brother was in the car, witness to it all.

Tragic. Depressing. A huge loss for the Alcantara family that no words can describe. A horrific nightmare for the Mom involved.

No one wished for this to happen. I grieved for Amiel last night and shed some tears while reading news that came in trickles. No child would ever imagine that they could be anything but safe inside their school. I grieved too for the young Mom. She has to live with this thought for the rest of her life. I cannot imagine what must be going through her head today.

The incident was another awakening to the shortness of life and how it can be snuffed out of our loved ones any day, any time. I was imagining that if it could happen in Ateneo, it could very well happen in my boys’ school or any school for that matter. They walk to and from school daily, cross streets, and have to contend with the traffic that comes through our street since we live close to 2 schools. My girls in Ateneo also cross Katipunan almost daily to eat at restaurants there. They are just as vulnerable to vehicular accidents and it is only by the grace and protection of God that I see them come home safely each day.

I still believe that nothing happens by accident but in a situation like this, I cannot help but ponder what was the purpose of the whole situation. All I can do is trust that Amiel’s death HAD a purpose and he did not die in vain. But for now, as a mother, I grieve with both families. I pray that as today, Ash Wednesday, starts the Lenten Season, that they both somehow find our God’s comforting Love and Peace. 

And for those of us who have children who leave our homes each day for school or work, say a prayer of protection over them every night as you put them to bed, embrace them tightly, and tell them how much you love them. Don’t wait for another tomorrow. Tomorrow may not be there…

For those interested in wake details for Amiel, I am reposting this from Wawam:

His body lies in state at the Chapel of the Holy Guardian Angels, Ateneo de Manila Grade School.

Wake masses will be held at 7:30 PM from Wednesday, February 25, 2009 to Friday, February 27, 2009.

 The remains of Amiel will be cremated at the Arlington Crematorium, Araneta Avenue, Quezon City at 2:00 PM on Saturday, February 28, 2009. There will be a mass at 11:00 AM at the AGS Chapel before the body is brought to Arlington for cremation.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. almabuenviaje
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:07:24

    this is so heartbreaking:(…for us moms who have kids going to school everyday, this is so alarming and makes me feel scared…especially for working moms who do not pick up their kids from school..

    Jane: I feel scared too, Alma. But God is always in control. We just have to trust and continue praying over our children for Divine Protection.


  2. kaiz
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:13:53

    aow. 😦 will include Amiel in my prayers.


  3. Rach (Heart of Rachel)
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:25:25

    This is such a sad and tragic story. My heart goes out to Amiel and his family. Amiel’s family must be experiencing insurmountable pain right now. I hope that they find strength through the support and prayers of the people around them. I will be offering my prayers to Amiel and his family.

    I also feel sorry for the mom behind the wheel. This incident must alter her life completely.

    I became aware of this incident last night in Plurk. This is a big eyeopener especially for a mom like me. Just earlier, I held my son’s hand when I picked him up from school. His Dad was waiting in the car. I stopped to talked to someone and my son wanted me to let him go. With this incident in mind, I held tighter to his hand and accompanied him to the car. I think it is always best to be extra careful.

    Jane: Rach, it’s a tragedy for both families. Yes, you’re right in taking extra precautions with your son.


  4. Anna
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:47:18

    I have a grade 4 son too in Ateneo, who gets to be picked up by the school bus. He has to take a long walk dragging that darn heavy bag behind him from the exit to where the buses are parked. The walk from the exit to the bus can be unsafe. Don’t we have security guards who do the trafficking? This longstanding traffic issue inside the campus can cause us all nightmares. Something has to be done. Eternal rest grant unto Amiel’s soul, Oh Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

    Jane: Hi Anna. My girls are in college there but the times I did go to school to get them, I did notice the traffic building up around the grade school area. Let’s hope some improvements can be introduced after this. As an Ateneo family, we should now rally around the Alcantara family during this time when they need comfort most.


  5. Red
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 21:47:57

    After learning of this tragic incident through my son who is a Grade 6 student in Ateneo, I was truly moved. I myself pick up my son in school and believe that security rendered by the guards of ADMU was tight and enough to feel rest assured of my son’s safety within the school’s premises. I believe that what transpired was truly an accident. Nobody wanted it to happen even the driver of the van that brought death to Amiel, but this doesn’t mean that nobody is held responsible for such a tragic occurrence. FACT: Accidents could be avoided. Parents and school should work hand in hand in finding ways to avoid such a traumatic incident. I both feel for the parents and family of Amiel and for the driver of the van who is also a mother like me. May they put in mind that God is everywhere. He is our strength. He gives us comfort. Amiel is in my prayers.. may his soul rest in peace.

    Jane: Hi Red. This kind of tragedy cuts to the very soul of every parent. It is our deepest fear coming true. I hope the family of Amiel is able to go through healing of every kind after such a tremendous loss.


  6. Patrick Ferrer
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 22:03:55

    Amiel Alcantara’s death bears meaning when we put it into the context of the need for us parents to take a stand with Ateneo to implement a safe and secure environment for our children. We all gladly pay the expensive and premium tuition for the education and the least we expect is that our child will return to us alive everyday that he is sent to that school.

    Over the years I have seen the traffic management get worse and more incompetent. For instance, the basic principle of never mixing vehicular traffic flow with pedestrian access is totally violated in that five lane pick up and drop off area along the grade school driveway. It is not difficult for anyone to see that the interspersing of children with the cars is an tragedy waiting to happen. Statistically, Ateneo management was rolling the dice rather than taking proactive initiatives to ensure that the safety of the children was the priority. To date, the flawed system espoused by the school is propagated while the security force miserably fails to discipline violating drivers and ensure the safety of the children. Typically, on any dismissal period of a school day, these points can be observed. In fact, the so called “holding area” just isn’t so as you will observe the children scattered amidst unfenced walkways and islands waiting for their cars and completely accessible to the vehicular traffic.

    The negligence has been Ateneo’s since this facility is their property and the service they deliver covers safety and security of the children we entrust to them. Sadly, this unfortunate incident had to happen before this negligence had become glaringly obvious.

    The accident was preventable. Why nothing has been done to ensure it was prevented is an answer we should demand from Ateneo. And, we do have a right as clients of Ateneo to demand that another incident such as this will be prevented. The delivery of their service in the aspect of child safety and security is below par and leaves much to be desired.

    I hope that as parents of children that attend that school we will not choose to allow the status quo and inertia to prevail. It is this reaction that makes Amiel’s death have its meaning. The awakening that his death has brought is that a better and safer way has to be forced on the school if need be before another incident does happen.

    Hopefully, Ateneo does listen to us parents in the matter of the safety and security of our children and will not fall into the trap of turning a proverbial deaf ear to the message that this sad incident has wrought.

    Jane: Let’s hope, Patrick, that steps will be taken to improve the traffic situation as well as the location of cars vs the children. Ateneo is the home of our kids when they are not at home and I am sure they are already evaluating and assessing what can be done in future.


  7. anna recio
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:18:35

    I am a mother of two kids and I have a Grade 5 son who also studies in Ateneo. I am a parent who works abroad. I couldn’t help but cry when i heard about Amiel’s tragic loss.

    Our most sincere condolences to Amiel’s family. We will include Amiel in our prayers.

    May the comfort of God help you during this very difficult time.

    Jane: For a mother, it must be hard for you to be separated from your son. Prayers are sure to cover your son here even with you away. God bless you.


  8. Suzy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 01:58:46

    I believe that moms have a 24/7 responsibility towards their children. This accident could have been avoided if the Torres mom went down to pick up her child instead of the driver. Why did she choose to stay in the car while her driver went down to pick up her child? Our drivers are meant to stay in the driver’s seat to move the car when necessary. Our job as moms is to be with our children, ready to greet them as they come out of school (and ready to bring them to school, too). In the case of not being able to bring the child in ourselves, we have to see to it that the yaya brings our child in, never the driver.

    Jane: We still have to hear the story of the other side. I did ask myself the same question you did but I also imagined that a mistake like stepping on the gas instead of the brakes (if that’s what happened) was easily something another driver could have done also.


  9. wawam
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:08:36

    if you are an ateneo parent, an ateneo alumni or you have been touched by the story of 10 year old Amiel and you wish to express your thoughts/feelings and/or you want to ask the ateneo school authorities to do something about the safety of school kids at the school, here is an email address that i found from the ateneo website that you can send your email to: president@admu.edu.ph

    Jane: Thank you for this info. Am sure the readers appreciate it too.


  10. Veegee
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 15:42:39

    I already emailed Fr. Nebres with suggestions and he replied using his personal email address and assured me of the administration’s support. I suggest parents who really feel strongly about this (who doesn’t?) likewise email Fr. Ben.

    We need to do something about the situation inside campus. Surely we do not want it to be a reflection of the chaos outside. Ateneo is our children’s second home and we need to be sure they are safe there.

    Please take time to share your suggestions


  11. meg
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 18:33:50

    I agree, Suzy. In hindsight, it was the mom who should’ve gone down to pick up her child. Why send the driver? I did ask myself the same thing. But then again, who would’ve thought that something as trivial as moving the van forward in bumper to bumper traffic would lead to something like this? I’m sure no one saw it coming.

    Lesson learned: All of us who drive, and are tasked to bring/fetch our children should understand the responsibility that goes with this seemingly very tiny chore. The lives of our children are in our hands, at the same time, it is also our duty and obligation not to endanger the lives of others while we are on the wheel. So whether were driving on the highway, or crawling in traffic, we simply can’t afford to be too relaxed or careless.

    Jane: This was an accident no one wanted to happen. I don’t drive and was actually planning to learn (rather, re-learn, since I did study years ago) but after this incident, I am getting scared about doing so. Drivers really need to focus while driving, which is why I get upset seeing people driving while texting or talking on their mobile phones. It’s almost an accident waiting to happen.


  12. Simon Rodriguez
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 21:14:09

    Poor amiel he is my batchmate and i am deeply sad for him and my close friend was with him during the accident before he got hit his 2nd to the last words were good-bye to his friend patrick his close friend and my relative who was also his close friend is really upset =( I will include him in my prayers

    Jane: Hi Simon. Thank you for leaving a comment here. You and your batchmates must feel very sad at this moment.

    I have been reading about Amiel and his teachers have said he was a good Scout, good student and a very caring friend. His family says he was a very loving child. You are all lucky to have been his friends. Short though his life has been, Amiel led a life that our Lord is very proud of. I think that is what is truly important whether we live long or live short. You are Gr. 4 now and have many, many more years in Ateneo. Make these years very meaningful years for you, your family and your schoolmates/friends. May God bless and protect you and your schoolmates always, Simon. Write me again or whenever you feel like doing so. 🙂 – Tita Jane


  13. Chinkee
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 10:04:12

    hi!!! i cry while reading blogs about amiel’s tragic end… i’m a mother to a 16 yr old son who goes to UP integrated school. i live in up campus but i still bring my son to school and pick him up from school. like most moms, i think of the most tragic accidents that can happen on the way to school, while he is inside the school premises and on his way home…. accident s happen all the time, even when one is extra careful or cautious, there is always the other person or another driver for this matter, who is selfish , arrogant and doesn’t care at all about other people…. i’m angry that an innocent child died, so violently, so helpless….. i’m praying for amiel, his family, his relatives, friends and for everyone deeply affected by this tragedy…


  14. ateneo alum
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 08:17:35

    here’s some things we can do to improve safety.

    1. make sure you pick up your kids in the PROPER spot.
    2. don’t text/cel and drive. PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. FINIS.
    3. make sure a responsible adult picks up the kids. make sure a RESPONSIBLE ADULT picks up the kids.
    4. remember the golden rule. treat the other students asyou would like your kids to be treated. treat other drivers with courtesy.
    5. expect to WAIT. i could say a lot more about this, but it may strike you as too insensitive at this point, so i won’t. you know what i mean. WAIT FOR YOUR TURN AT THE PROPER SPOT. no sending yaya/driver to get the kids. if you must, GO YOURSELF.

    how about that? more than anything else, this would help prevent any more accidents like this.


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