Reacting to Gabrielle Molina’s suicide, Jersey teen takes comfort in being close to family, Filipino heritage

New York student Gabrielle Molina, 12, commits suicide reportedly over  bullying.

New York student Gabrielle Molina, 12, commits suicide reportedly over bullying.

By Megan Villarin

I find it really sad and sickening to see how far harassment can go. Just because Gabrielle Molina was different — whether religious, cultural or overall appearance, we don’t know — these people bullied her to the point where she could not bear to live anymore.

This shows the power of technology. Social media networking can be beneficial, but if used for the wrong purpose it can be lethal. I feel that we need to take a stand against bullying, especially cyber-bullying.

Kids and even adults are no longer safe on the Internet. There are a growing number of suicides because of cyber-bullying. My friends and I have gone through a lot of discrimination and bullying because of our ethnic differences. Especially after 9/11, my Indian and Pakistani friends have experienced much prejudice and racism.

Just last month, because I had been accused of telling one of my teachers of a cheating incident in my class, I was ridiculed, called derogatory terms, harassed and gossiped about because I did not do what was “popular.” I was called a “snitch” and looked down upon. Some kids in my class got the whole class, even other kids outside of the class, to bully me.

I feel like society and the negative influences within it have gone much too far. There is too much violence and harsh judgment put in our minds, specifically teenagers and children. It is important not to put a paradigm image for our youth, of what a girl or boy should be, feel, or act like. They feel pressured to meet this ideal, and when they don’t, they are bullied for it.

We should take action against HIB (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying) in our constantly developing and ethnically diversifying society in America.

Having been born here in the U.S. and attending American schools can be an interesting experience for a person of different cultural heritage like myself. To be honest, I actually do not have many Filipino friends as my school does not really have many Filipino students.

I have one Filipino friend from school, but my closest friends, many of whom I have had since elementary school, are multicultural. Indian, Pakistani, Irish, German, Italian, Cuban, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese. My friends and I are a melting pot of culture. Although we do not share the same ethnicities, our differences are what bring us together.

The author (third from right) with friends from school: 'We're a melting pot'

The author (third from right) with friends from school: ‘We’re a melting pot’

Being a part of my Filipino heritage has always been important to me. I know many American-born children find it hard to connect to their native culture, but this has not hindered me from wanting to know more about my nationality.

Since I was younger my mom and dad exposed my older brother, Kyle, and I to different aspects of the Filipino culture. I can understand the Filipino language and speak some of the words, although I regret not being fluent. I love Filipino food, my favorite being ‘dinuguan’ and I cannot deny my love for mangos, as it is the national fruit of the Philippines. Singing, especially karaoke, is one of my passions and I enjoy listening to Filipino music. My favorite to sing is “Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin,” and I love listening to singers like Gary Valenciano, Lea Salonga, Ronnie Liang, Daniel Padilla, Jay-R Siaboc, Jericho Rosales, and Erik Santos.

My family and I used to live in Philadelphia, but moved to New Jersey several years ago. Making Filipino friends here was not very common, but we eventually met many Filipinos in our neighborhood that we have gotten very close to. Sometimes we have get-togethers and parties where we socialize. But one of the most important factors that have allowed me to gain a second family and a stronger bond to my culture is the Filipino community at St. Raphael Holy Angels Parish.

My father’s side of my family is mostly centered in the Pennsylvania area and we see them often. My mother’s side of the family are mainly located in the West Coast and back home in the Philippines, but we still try to keep in touch and send back ‘balikbayan’ boxes.

Perhaps the person that I have bonded with most is Karla Dimatulac. She was the Reyna Emperatriz for the 2013 Santacruzan at our parish. I was the Reyna Elena. We are both 16, juniors in high school and share many similarities. She is like a sister to me. We can talk about anything: expressing our love for Filipino food, stressing about school, APs, and SATs, talking about PSY and Gangnam Style, discussing our passions like poetry and art, and basically whatever comes to our minds. Our birthdays are only four days apart and we share many of the same interests. We love taking lots of picture to save the memories. I really do love her a lot and am so glad she is a part of my life.

Even though I embrace my Filipino culture, to me it is very important to be able to accept and participate in other cultures as well. In a new age and in American society, I find that being around my friends and seeing their love for their own culture allows me to not only be open-minded and experience many new traditions, but it makes me appreciate the customs and lifestyle of Filipinos.

Sixteen-year-old Megan Villarin is a junior student at Bordentown Regional High School in New Jersey.

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3 Comments

  1. mm wrote:

    Dear Ms. Megan Villarin,

    I would like to state that I have found your article on bullying in our schools is a very serious issue that parents and our school system and administrators are not doing enough to stop the tide against bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation and physical violence in our public schools (Catholic/private schools are not immune to these problems).

    It is about high times to put a dent in controlling these serious problems that are confronting our children to be safe in the class rooms of our nation. The bullying of our youths at times may drive teenagers or young adults to commit suicide or, even go on a killing sprees.

    It seem to me that our elected and unelected officials, parents and school administrators are not doing enough to keep our children safe and sound while they are attending our schools in the USA.

    What this nation need is, to teach our children to combat bullying, sexual harassment, physical violence and killing of children and teachers. Furthermore, we need to teach our young kids and young adults about respecting everyone who is attending school with them and teach to be humane being.

    • Dear mm,

      Thank you so much for your concerned reply! I completely agree with everything you stated! This is a growing issue in our nation and it is about time we put a stop to it. Bullying has gotten out of control and now it is no longer physical abuse but mental and sexual as well. Just as you said, it drives people to the point of ending their own life or ending others as we saw in the cases of Virgina Tech and Columbine. The important part is that if a student is being bullied, they must tell a form of authority and get help before it is too late. When I was being harassed, I went to my guidance counselor who immediately took action and eventually the bullying died down. It is also good to ensure that as a student, you are surrounded by positive influences. My parents, family, and friends are all people I can count on. I was seriously considering switching out of my class, however, my closest friends stood up for me and defended me even though they were outnumber and going against the “popular” notion. People even began to harass not only myself, but my entire group of friends, however with time the issue was resolved.
      I feel that our school systems lack discipline. Although some teachers say as staff of public schools it is not their job to discipline the students, it is important that we do not tolerate discrimination and intimidation. If kids do not learn values such as respect, honesty, and kindness at home, then where will they learn this if not at a school? Moreover, media sheds a very negative light for our youth as there is excessive violence, sexual activity, drug and alcohol usage, and bad influences constantly displayed to the public.
      It really is sad how far people are willing to harass others and that they actually take pleasure in doing this. If these suicides and mass shootings do not stand as a wake up call or red flag to the officials and citizens of this nation, then I do not know what will.

      • mm. wrote:

        Dear Ms. Villarin,

        I would like to commend you and your school mates who stood by you during your difficult period at your school. Indeed, you are a young woman with courage and wisdom that is way ahead for your young age. Teachers have lost their authority in the classroom due to liberal policies to look the other ways when it come to bullying and other behavioral problems in the classroom.

        Government laws and policies have caused these problems which left the parents and teachers not being in control of our children which in turn brought us to live in fear for the safety and welfare of our children while they attend school.

        Ms. Villaran youth like yourself can make the difference when they speak up about problems in the classroom. I do urge you to become a youth advocate and to keep writing about problems in our schools and in our society at large regarding our youths.

        Thank you very much for having the foresight to be a good example to help bulling in the classroom. I do remain

        M.M.

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