A friend asked me while I was inside a bus on my way home from work whether I know somebody named Winton Ynion. I made a mental note of the funny sounding name, like how it was pronounced by somebody who has a speech defect, probably with a malformed palate. His name did not resonate in any of my recent or past memories. I was certain I have not met this man before. Upon reaching my place, I checked my emails and there in one of the messages from a yahoogroups that I am a member of, I learned who Winton was and what happened to him.
I googled his name, viewed his Facebook like a stalker. He was from the same province, Iloilo, where both my parents came from, a good five years ahead my age. He was already finished with college while I was still a childish boy of fifteen playing with my friends in the pineapple fields of South Cotabato. He finished his undergraduate with honor from West Visayas State University, took his graduate studies from the University of the Philippines Diliman and was an assistant professor at De La Salle University. He has also won a Palanca, the country’s most prestigious Literary award.
How technology can amass and provide astounding amount of information but how little does it allow us to truly understand things and people. I may have known a lot about him but this means really nothing.
He has accomplished a lot at such a young age. He can be a subject of the expression we always hear when somebody green yet well-accomplished dies: “He’s so young, so full of promise. He can’t be dead”. In fact he is dead. He was brutally murdered inside his condominium unit on a rainy August night. His body was found in his bathroom, hand and legs tied.
It’s funny how we have all worked hard to achieve all the recognitions, successes, and touched lives of people only to find ourselves occupying a three square inch newsbrief in the police report section of a daily broadsheet or worse sensationalized beyond recognition in a smutty local tabloid.
What is even funnier, in a lamentable sense, is the fact that the justice system of this country will remain untrue to its name. It will not serve justice, not even a pinch of it. Ynion’s family will only see his name in the growing folders of unsolved murder cases.
My cynicism was glaring, in reality, it was screaming. Because this country has failed its youths so many times that I’ve lost my trust on its institutions. I cannot pretend to be hopeful in a system that does not give a damn to the people it is supposed to be serving.
Winton might disagree with me if he is still living this time. He may even ask me why at my age I am already this disillusioned and cynical. He would’ve even convinced me to reconsider my stance and look at the bright side of things, that there are people silently working to make this country better.
But he’d never be able to hear my answer. He is dead.