(Translated from the original Facebook post of AJ’s mother which she published in Filipino)
My name is Relissa Lucena. I am the mother of Alicia Jasper Lucena 17 years old. She will turn 18 on July 24. AJ as we fondly call her is a diligent student. She wanted to attend the Philippine Military Academy for college and was planning to apply for the entrance examination this year. All of this changed after she joined a club at school last year after the opening of classes.
We are not a family of means. My husband works abroad in order to provide for our family. We didn’t want to send our children to public school because they are poorly run in the district where we live. AJ is a senior high school student at Far Eastern University. Around October of last year, I noticed changes in AJ’s behavior. She became distant and aloof to me and her siblings. She also shelved her plans of applying for admission to the PMA. I thought that she was just going through growing pains because of her impending high school graduation and moving on to college.
Though my husband and I married early we had a plan for our family and wanted our children to be able to realize their own ambitions. We realized our immaturity early on but worked hard on our marriage and strove to raise our children to dream big and realize their ambition. This is why my husband went abroad to work while I am a stay-at-home mom who sells various products online in order to augment the money sent by my husband and care for our three children.
I was shocked when AJ left our house on February 3 and didn’t come home until February 6. We didn’t have any argument and even if we did, running away was not in her character. She would mope and give me the silent treatment for a couple of days after which things would go back to normal like nothing happened. I called up her friends and our relatives to check if she was staying with them. I reported her missing at the police precinct and a blotter entry was made but it was really up to me to find her but I was at a loss when friends and relatives informed me that she wasn’t with them. My only recourse was to pray that the Lord keep her safe.
I was greatly relieved when she returned home after three days. It was an answered prayer for me but little did I know that the worst was yet to come. AJ told me she was dropping out of school and joining Anakbayan full-time. I had no idea about the extent of her indoctrination up to that point. She also told me that she is devoting her life to the cause and the movement, which required her leaving us – her family.
I reasoned with her and asked why she was doing something so drastic, which would have a large impact on her future. There was nothing wrong about love of country but to join a movement that was advocating for the overthrow of the government is illegal and she could find herself in jail for a long period of time if she was caught doing an illegal act.
I also pointed out to her the sacrifices her father and I were making for her and her siblings to have the best life we can provide for them. There was never a time when our family experienced any crisis, financial or within our marriage. I made my husband, our family and the Lord the center of my life. I wasn’t able to get AJ to abandon Anakbayan but I did manage to get her to stay in school.
Barely a month after this crisis came another – AJ didn’t come home again presumably to stay with her colleagues or comrades in Anakbayan. I decided to change my approach this time at the suggestion of my husband who was also worried but couldn’t afford to break his contract with his employer to come home. He was very distressed when I confided this problem to him. He wanted me to pull AJ out of school. Never mind the tuition or her having to repeat another year he said. Just make sure she’s far from the influence of her fellow Anakbayan members.
I went to FEU Morayta to the office of Anakbayan and spoke to the officers. I told them straight that I didn’t like what they did to my daughter. She was effectively brainwashed, as it was more an ideological indoctrination process that she underwent since she joined the organization. I also told the officers that I would file criminal charges against them if my daughter didn’t return home.
AJ came home a week after I spoke with her colleagues and she explained to me that she was now decided to dedicate her life to the cause. She finally admitted that she wasn’t going to her classes anymore but had been spending time in an Anakbayan alternative school where the cause was explained in more detail along with the strategy to achieve their goal. I finally decided to heed my husband’s advice and told AJ that she wasn’t allowed to leave the house anymore. I enlisted the help of an elderly Aunt to watch over AJ whenever I couldn’t avoid going out of the house like to fetch her younger siblings, do the grocery shopping or pay the bills. AJ became a prisoner in our own home.
In the early morning hours of May 25, I woke up to the sound of our kitchen door opening. I thought it was a thief and my first instinct was to go into the children’s room where all three of them slept. AJ was missing. I went to the kitchen door and saw the padlock had been hit with a heavy object. AJ made her escape.
I went to the police precinct to report what happened. The women’s desk sergeant sympathized with my plight and made the corresponding blotter entry. She made the point of explaining to me that once AJ turned 18 it would be difficult to file charges for serious illegal detention because we would need evidence that she was forcibly taken.
The following day I went to Anakbayan’s office to talk with the people whom I saw the last time AJ left. They claimed they hadn’t seen or heard from her since. I can no longer reach her on her cellphone. She must’ve changed her SIM card.
I have gone to Camp Aguinaldo to report the incident to the AFP. The officer I spoke to was kind and sympathetic. He assured me that he would make sure the operating units would be made aware of what happens to AJ and her picture would be circulated. He said that if ever there was any development they would contact me immediately.
My husband is despondent but he has to finish his contract before he can come home. I still haven’t come to terms with AJ’s loss but I have to be strong for my two other children. I have come to realize now that it would’ve been easier for me if AJ died of natural causes or in an accident because I would be grieving but I would also have closure. I can’t sleep at night thinking my daughter is out there somewhere with people who aren’t her family without her best interest in mind. I continue to pray and hope that God answers my prayers for AJ’s safe return.