Nephew, niece among Davao blast survivors
NEW YORK – Michael Tagadaya, a New York-based nurse first heard of the news about the Davao City bombing on his social media feed. It wasn’t until he received a call from his younger brother that a nephew and a niece were among those badly hit by the bombing that happened on the evening of Sept. 3 near the city’s night market.
Steven Raeyan and Princess Sheena Tagadaya, both Ateneo de Davao students, were 20 feet away from the explosion. They just got out of school and since Sheena has not been felling too well, they told their parents that she was getting a reflexology massage before they went home. Sheena was on the massage table while Steven was standing next to her when the blast happened. They are among the more than 60 people injured by the blast that claimed the lives of 14 people.
The blast caused severe traumatic injury to the 19-year-old Steven’s left leg and multiple shrapnel pieces punctured his liver. In addition to an emergency reconstruction of his leg, he also had exploratory laparotomy to repair his liver. He lost a lot of blood and had to receive blood transfusion.
His 17-year-old sister Sheena sustained multiple injuries when shrapnel hit the T5 level of her spinal cord. Both were rushed to the Operating Room at Southern Philippines Medical Center where doctors spent hours upon hours to perform life-saving surgical procedures to prolong their lives.
Steven will require debridement and sloughing (skin grafting) for his left lower leg, while Sheena will require a much needed spine surgery in the next few days to remove two metal shrapnel that are embedded in her spinal cord. Both will require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation to promote healing and wellness. They were kept on intensive care unit at SPMC where they are currently recovering in the post-op surgical units and are being continuously monitored.
Now, Tagadaya is hoping that justice be served.
“The government and the police should pursue the perpetrators. Justice should be rendered kasi how can you feel safe if you just allow these things to happen,” Tagadaya told the Asian Journal.
“They will never be the same, the way we knew them but we will make sure that … sabi nila time heals all wounds but I think our love and support for them will heal all these wounds,” he said. “Sheena and Steven, are not only resilient and survivors, they are young warriors who have big dreams to help their family and change the world. They are kind, gentle, respectful, God fearing, obedient, loyal, loving and caring.”
Both President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo have visited the Tagadaya siblings and other blast victims.
The president reportedly told them that the bomb was not meant for them, but for him.
“Sabi niya ‘This was not meant for you and the children and everybody, this was meant for me.’ I was touched by the statement but I think the government should do a better job in protecting people by stepping it up,” Tagadaya said.
President Duterte declared a “state of lawless violence” in the Philippines hours after Friday night’s deadly blast.
Steven is supposed to graduate with an Accounting degree next March and pursue his dream to become a Certified Public Accountant. He is Tagadaya’s fourth full scholar in their family. Sheena is a sophomore who dreams to become a flight attendant and travel the world.
“Wala pa kaming accountant and he is going to be the first one in our family,” Tagadaya said, adding that he is hopeful that both Steven and Sheena are able to fully recover from this tragedy.
The Tagadayas are from Cotabato City, a four-hour drive from Davao City.
“I was video chatting with them yesterday and I was told both still have nightmares from the trauma brought about by the blast,” Tagadaya shared. “The good news is nakakausap na sila and they are able to talk now. It’s going to be a long healing and rehab process for them.”
The family is grateful for the outpouring of support and words of encouragement from relatives and friends, especially on social media. In order to help his brother Roy and his wife Melinda defray the cost of the medical procedures, Michael has established a GoFundMe fundraiser for his niece and nephew. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/2nw683hk for details.