Audwin Libot, the boyfriend of 19-year-old Kristina Maria “Nana” Pagalilauan, who fell to her death from the rooftop of an Ermita condominium after reportedly taking several “sunset rooftop selfies,” has clarified that she was not even taking pictures at the time of the accident.
The news of the college student’s death shocked pretty much everyone. Pagalilauan went with a friend, Jonea Mildred Ani, to the Dahlia Tower of the Suntrust Parkview Condominium, along Natividad Lopez Street in Ermita, on January 5.
The two had gone to the rooftop of the 20-storey building reportedly to take some pictures. While Ani was checking photos on her phone, Nana climbed on the ledge of the building and stood on the overhang to get a better view. By the time Ani looked up, Nana had already fallen over.
Libot wasn’t there when the tragedy happened. He was on a trip to Mindanao and was notified by Ani via chat. “At first, akala ko biro lang. Nana was that kind of person who liked to play jokes”. But he was also contacted by the building engineer and told him of the incident. They advised him to go to the morgue as soon as they could.
By the time he arrived in Manila — around lunch time the following day — the stories had spiraled out of context. “In some way, I understand that they have to put a spin on the story in order to sell it,” Libot told Coconuts Manila. “But it has become too sensationalized and the comments on social media were too harsh and quick to judge.”
“Unang-una, hindi po siya nag-se-selfie noong nahulog. Ni hindi niya nga po dala cellphone niya. Nahulog po siya, period,” Libot wrote on his Facebook page, to explain that taking pictures was not the reason why the two women were at the rooftop. “They went there to watch the sunset.”
Libot lamented a local tabloid’s coverage of the incident, which published a photo of him and Nana on its front page to accompany an interview. But he said the headline was misleading. “I consented to an interview with my dear friend who wrote the article, hoping she would be able to tell the right story. She wrote the right story but unfortunately her editors opted to look past that and chose the wrong front page headline and the wrong picture,” he said.
He likewise addressed those who were quick to judge Nana, a consistent dean’s lister in her college, as narcissistic and mababaw. “She was very serious with her studies. That is why she has access to my unit. This is where she connects to the wi-fi to do research, as there was no Internet at the dorm where she used to stay. Pati yung pag punta niya sa apartment ko binigyan pa ng malisya ng mga tao. She has keys to my unit because I consider her as family, since my parents and my sister are living abroad. Nana is the one who checks up on me.”
“They don’t know her,” he said calmly on the phone. Her photos were not for vanity’s sake but a reflection of her adventurous spirit. She is enamored with heights, he said. “She loved going to rooftops and bell towers. We would often go up to the rooftop of my building because the view there is really something else.”
Audwin says that he is trying to move on from what happened, as Nana would not want him or her loved ones to feel sad. “Ayaw niya na malungkot kami, kahit mahirap para sa amin yung nangyari,” he said. “But I won’t stop loving her. For me, she was the one.”