Kristel Tejada laid to rest
MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) Manila first year student Kristel Tejada, who took her own life last week allegedly after failing to pay her tuition, was laid to rest at the Manila North Cemetery Saturday afternoon.
A final mass was offered for the 16-year-old Behavioral Sciences student at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Tondo before family and friends brought her remains to her final resting place at the Manila North Cemetery past 4 p.m.
Tejada's loved ones, along with an estimated 1,000 people who joined the funeral march, turned emotional as they bid goodbye to the freshman student.
Her parents, Christopher and Blesilda, said their grief already eased a little due to the outpouring of support from teachers and students of UP Manila.
The university on Thursday held a wake for Tejada. Classes in the UP College of Arts and Sciences were also suspended to give way to a necrological mass and vigils for Tejada.
Tejada's case has sparked outrage from students over the state university's no late payment policy, which allegedly drove the UP Manila student to kill herself.
UP officials said reforms are underway. The no late payment policy has also been lifted.
UP President Alfredo Pascual said in a statement Saturday that he is deeply saddened by the death of a "promising Iskolar ng Bayan who in life showed a keen interest in her studies."
"The past few days have not been easy for us. The news of Kristel's untimely demise has divided us and this has saddened us more. But let us now look forward and turn our grief into a stronger resolve to address the concerns brought out by this tragedy," he said.
He added that he will make sure that no student will be denied education in UP due to financial constraints.
"Soon we can claim that UP, the country’s national university, has indeed become the University of the People," Pascual said. -- With reports from Johnson Manabat, Ricky Velasco and Henry Atuelan, dzMM