The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-six hours since her husband succumbed to a gunshot wound in the face that rendered him comatose for two days, Susan Kua had not seen how the late journalist and ex-tourism authority chief Nixon Kua looked like in his casket. She smiles on repeatedly being told the mortuary artists had done a great job at hiding any trace of the shattering impact of the .45-caliber bullet on his face, but says, “maybe later, I’ll look . . . when I’m ready.”
She looks calm and collected, and the serenity amazes no end, especially when the words start tumbling out of her mouth about the crucial moments of that rainy Saturday night, when evil incarnated in four robbers snatched her husband’s life and nearly wiped off her entire family.
“Everything was happening so fast, simultaneously, between the four robbers and my husband, my children and myself and our baby (a year-old toddler they adopted) whom I held close to my chest. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes,” she replied, when InterAksyon.com asked how long she thought it lasted. “But it was the longest 10-minute nightmare of my life.”
Susan credits Divine Providence with shielding her and her children from death, even as their father lay bleeding on the patio floor where he and his only daughter had been surprised by the intruders as they parked their car outside his brother’s Ayala Greenfield home in Laguna.
“But I will always thank God for giving me such good children,” she nods in approval in the direction of the three oldest ones, seated a few meters away, quietly chatting with and serving guests at the wake. She credits their school---St. Jude Catholic School---for “helping us raise them well. It’s a well-run school, it’s strict both in academics and in shaping children’s values and conduct. I think that’s why my children are that way.”
By “that way” she apparently meant their instinct for self-sacrifice, their intelligence, their sensitive and gentle demeanor. Eldest Karl (“Woody” is his Chinese moniker) is training to be a physical therapist; Darren (“Loggy” in Chinese) is a senior La Salle student; and the only girl Sue Anne Chanel is a first year medicine proper student.
Susan is amazed at the remarkably similar manner in which both Darren and Sue Anne responded to the crisis: each offered to trade his/her life for a parent. Sue Anne was the one holding the bag containing Nixon’s P90,000 budget for a landscaping project, and she was the first target (“halata pong alam nila na yun ang dapat unang kunin”]. She recalls that one of the robbers, apparently impatient because she had not quickly let go of the bag as she was stunned, pushed her to the ground, making a move to push her face into the mud while pointing a gun at her head. Nixon did not make any move to resist when the bag was being taken, but when the robber hit his daughter, it was then that he reacted threateningly---as any father would—and got shot in the face.
“Kumikisay si Papa sa sahig, pero gusto pa niyang kunin ang relos ni Papa. Nakatutok pa rin ang baril niya kay Papa. Niyakap ko si Papa ko, sabi ko, ako na lang magtatanggal ng relos, wag na lang siyang pumutok ulit. [Papa was convulsing on the floor, but the man still wanted to take his watch. His gun was pointed at Papa, as if ready to shoot again. But he was having a hard time taking it off, so I embraced Papa and told the man I will take off the watch for him, but begged him not to fire again].”
At one point, when it took her a long time to take off Nixon’s watch because she was nervous, the man menacingly pointed his gun at Nixon once more, so she told him, “shoot me instead, but please don’t hurt my Papa again.”
Her older brother Darrel (Loggy) recalled hearing a single gunshot and racing down the stairs to check what happened. He saw his mother in a kneeling position, tightly embracing her year-old son. A man had a gun pointed to her head. Instinctively, Darrel knelt, thrust his mobile phone into the gunman’s hand, and said, “please take this. Take what you want. I’ll help you take whatever you want, just don’t hurt them.”
When the man did not seem to stand down after taking the cell phone, Darrel begged, “please, hurt me if you want, but spare them,” pointing to his mother and baby brother.
Susan said the thought of her children being so “true to form” in their unselfishness is the greatest well of comfort in these times. “I’m sure Nixon would be so proud of them, as he always was.”
In another manifestation of their breeding, when the older children had a confrontation with three of the suspects after they surrendered to the police late Monday---just before Nixon passed away---Sue Anne said that when she pointed to the man who shot her dad (the man’s bonnet and improvised mask, from a scarf, had fallen off during the struggle) he gave her the most “murderous stare” possible, his angry eyes seemingly shouting ‘I will deal with you later.’ She was half-angry, half-scared at this reaction. When Darren pointed to the other gunman who had threatened his mother, he too, got a murderous glance.
The children wondered aloud where such impunity and defiance sprang from, and someone at the wake blurted out, “dapat sinapak ninyo. Biktima naman kayo [you should have hit these people; you are victims].” To which they replied, “sabi ni Mama huwag daw kaming ganyan. Kasi si Papa nga po napaka-peaceful na tao [Mama admonished us to be restrained, because Papa after all was a peace-loving man].” Then Susan interjected, “yes, Nixon never wanted to own a gun; he hated violence.” Something that was remarkable in itself, since, like many journalists, he could have used hazards of the trade to justify gun ownership. Besides, when he joined government, he was close to then President Joseph Estrada’s family and to then-PNP chief Ping Lacson. “Friends said he could easily get a gun, but Nixon never wanted one.”
Nixon never wanted a gun because, besides being a happy and gentle person, he trusted the government to do its job to protect its citizens. Nixon never would have imagined, said his wife, that he would need a gun on those joyous family reunions on weekends in his brother Alyxxon’s house in Ayala Greenfield, a gated, supposedly highly secured subdivision.
But dark forces apparently conspired on that rainy Saturday night, preparing well for a robbery that would snatch one peace-loving journalist’s life and nearly kill his brother. Looking back, Susan mused aloud, you begin to wonder at the coincidence: the lamp posts outside the house had no light that night. The electrical system was busted for sometime. Luckily for them, lights were on inside Alyxxon’s home, and the light radiated from the glass-encased house, shining some brilliance on the patio and allowing them to see the gunmen’s faces.
They are faces that will forever be etched in the children’s memory of the longest 10 minutes of their lives.