Digital Filmmaking student Javier Villareal passed away last Friday, September 29, after falling from a balcony on the 20th floor of Manila Residences Tower II along Taft Avenue.
According to a report by Manila Bulletin, at around 2 a.m., the 20-year-old Villareal and three others were invited to the condo unit of friend, and fellow Benildean Jeremiah San Juan, to drink. The group had just returned from a high school reunion. Villareal was reportedly already under the influence of alcohol once he arrived.
According to Charles Duran, the case investigator of the Manila Police District Crimes Against Investigation Section, the group headed out onto the balcony to light cigarettes and Villareal sat on the ledge despite warnings from his companions. He lost balance and fell over the ledge, his body landed on another balcony on the eighth floor.
San Juan, along with everyone else present, immediately went to the guards in the condo lobby and the nearest police station to report what happened.
In an interview with The Benildean, Javier’s father, Toto Villareal, expressed his “profound gratitude” to the late student’s Benilde family.
“Allow me just to express my family’s profound gratitude to Javi’s [DLS-CSB] family, particularly Bro Den [Bro. Dennis Magbanua FSC], Ma’am Mela [Carmela Lazatin], and his fellow film majors,” the father said.
“We ask for prayers for Javi and us, and also for those students who were with him when our Lord called him home. They were terribly traumatized and it will be Javi’s wish that we embrace them too,” he added.
Meanwhile, the College’s Film Department Head Jose Javier Reyes, who was Villareal’s professor for one term and helped him prepare for his thesis project, left a message for the community.
“I really wish the students would be more open to us. [To them] we might seem like these authority figures, but more than that, we’re like parents or friends: people they can talk to. If there’s anything they need, they can always talk to us. I can’t tell them to ‘stop doing this, [or] stop doing that’ because that’s their choice. All I’m asking is for them to be careful and responsible,” the award-winning director said.
“Life is so fragile that all it takes is one mistake and you can lose it. Life is so short. Don’t make it shorter. When you’re young, you think that this goes on forever. You feel invincible. No, that’s not the case. This thing could have been avoided if there was more caution. It’s nobody’s fault, yet at the same time, it’s everybody’s pain,” Reyes added.
In addition, several administrators from Benilde also visited Villareal’s wake, such as Vice President of Lasallian Mission and Student Life, Mr. Neil Pariñas, and representatives from the Center for Lasallian Ministry.
The wake was held over the weekend at Christ the King Parish Church. Villareal’s body was cremated yesterday at Archangel Funeral Homes.