August 18th, 2006 by admin
A fairy tale-inspired beauty pageant turned into tragedy when one of the contestants, ironically wearing an angel suit, caught fire on the catwalk Thursday evening at a government-run university. Sixteen-year-old Cheryl Sarate, a first-year AB English student of University of Southeastern Philippines, died Sunday evening at Davao Medical Center due to third-degree burns. The incident happened amid the city council debate for the proposal to ban any form of beauty contests in Davao City. Sarate was one of the eight ladies and eight gents vying for the title Lord and Lady of Utopia, Search for Mr. and Ms. GuES when the incident happened at the school’s social hall. GuES is said to be the guild of English major students of USeP.
Sarate, whose favorite motto is “Expect the unexpected,” was walking in the catwalk with her angel-like gown, complete with wings. The balloon-like lower part of the gown was covered with cotton. When was on her way back to the stage when her gown hit the fourth candle placed along the catwalk. The candle, which the witnesses described as vigil candy or “kandila sa patay, was placed in a pot covered with a paper bag. “It was so sudden that I though it was part of the show,” said Monster Radio jock Napoleon David II who was one of the emcees during the show. “I was stunned for a minute and I realized it was for real when she jumped from the stage and shouted for help.”
David was one of those who helped putting of the fire. “I took off my jacket and try to extinguish the fire with it.” Asia Palma Gil, a nursing student of Davao Medical Foundation who was in the show to accompany David, said the fire instantly engulfed Sarate in just three seconds. “The fire immediately hit the wings and her hair. She was on fire for about one minute and 30 seconds,” said Palma Gil who was one of those who rushed to help the victim after calling 911. “There was no fire extinguisher,” Palma Gil lamented. “The rescuers only hit her with jackets and clothes. The victim was still conscious after the fire went off. “Ang init-init… tubig,” Palma Gil recalled what Sarate said. There was no enough water, Palma Gil said, which could have prevented the victim from dehydration.
Palma Gil and fellow DMF nursing classmate, Julie Calonzo, tried to protect the victim as some kibitzers started to flock around the victim who was already half-naked. “Mabagal dumating ang 911… Matagal rin silang umalis,” Palma Gil. She said the 911 rescuers arrived 10 minutes after she made the call. They left after eight minutes later.” USeP is around two kilometers from the 911 headquarter in Ponciano. Before the incident, it was a rather boring competition, Palma Gil said. “There was an urge for us to stay even if we really want to leave,” she said. She described the victim as very beautiful. “She was really like an angel when she did the catwalk.” TV reports claimed Sarate was just a replacement candidate after their original bet begged off. The victim suffered third degree burns in 80 percent of her body. Her family is seeking justice, and demanded that the organizer and the school administration to answer the incident.
Published : 2006-07-25
Courtesy of Mindanao Times
This is Cheryl Sarate’s photo that I found on the internet:
Kamo, what’s your say on this matter?