Planning for son’s birthday, musician meets death instead
MANILA, Philippines – It took all of a year for musician Andrew David Sicam to plan his son’s birthday celebration but only a second for a bus crash to wipe it all away.
Sicam was among the 14 people who died when a Florida Trans Bus fell into a ravine in Mountain Province on Friday.
One of the survivors, Charley Sta. Maria, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone Saturday that she, her boyfriend Paeng Gordovez, comedian Arvin Jimenez, known in the entertainment industry as “Tado,” were part of a group that had joined Sicam and his family to celebrate his son Amien’s fourth birthday celebration.
It was a group of photographers, artists, musicians and filmmakers who joined Sicam, his wife, Abby, and children Amien and Agung, 7, making a party of 15 in all.
The Sicam family was part of the group of artists who conceptualized the peace mural at Camp Aguinaldo where its four-kilometer-long perimeter wall was painted with symbols of peace.
“David thought that instead of celebrating Amien’s birthday at Jollibee, why not celebrate it with the Butbot tribe,” said Sta. Maria, an associate director at Gung Ho Films Manila.
She said Sicam had planned the outing for a year.
Sta. Maria said they brought with them items such as matches and sugar for the Butbot community in the Kalinga. “Things they need,” she said.
Sta. Maria said she and her friends had been visiting the Butbot community, home of the vanishing tribal body art of tattooing.
“All of us also love the mountains,” Sta. Maria said.
Jimenez was also on a personal undertaking called “40 Mountains Project,” which he posted on his Instagram account the day before. “Life begins in the mountains,” he wrote.
“He was turning 40 in March and he intended to climb 40 mountains for his 40th year. Also he was writing a travel book,” Sta. Maria said.
Sta. Maria recalled they were less than an hour away from their destination when their bus lost its brakes. They weren’t going very fast, she said, but the road was sloping downward.
“That’s why the bus’ speed was gaining momentum. Some of the passengers were telling the driver to just crash the bus before we got any faster. But he didn’t. We passed three curves before we went off into the ravine,” Sta. Maria said.
She remembered folding her body into a fetal position and being tossed around.
Seated on the fourth row from the back of the bus, Sta. Maria and Gordovez, a student trainee at the National Center for Culture and the Arts, survived with very minor wounds.
“David was right up front with his family. Tado was fast asleep behind us, two seats from the back,” she said.
Four people in their group died: Sicam; Jimenez; Gerard Baja, and Don Marcial Bernard.
On Saturday, Philippine Air Force choppers airlifted seven survivors who were seriously injured in the accident, said Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, 1st Civil Relations Group commander of the Northern Luzon Command.
“All seven were recommended by doctors to be airlifted. All others will stay in the Bontoc General Hospital,” Garcia said.
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