Nini tagged me along last night to the wake of her former staffer, Jose Luis Villanueva, who was senselessly killed in a cellphone robbery incident on a travelling bus along EDSA Friday night. Jose was only 29 years old, a handsome young man who left a sheltered upbringing to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. The eldest among nine children of multi-millionaire parents, he was educated in New York’s Fordham U but chose to absorb himself in Manila’s rough-and-tumble media world. He could have chosen to live on their mansion but as his friends would say, Jose ached to build his own life, on his own terms. He commuted, rented his own apartment and was hard put in paying his bills like the rest of us. Worse, he was one of the few people who did not own a cellphone and the cellphone – an expensive Nokia 7610 that the robbers tried to take from him that night – was a demo unit lent to him by a company for a story he was writing. I would hate it if this incident should sensationalize violence in our city and deter the tourists because violence is everywhere, from New York to India. But as we would say, crimes thrive where law enforcement has failed. And unfortunately, in some cases , the policemen collude with the very criminals they are supposed to arrest.
It has become the tragedy of our times that human life is now just worth the price of a cellphone.