MANILA - The parents of slain law freshman Horacio "Atio" Castillo III shared Wednesday their most vivid memories of their son: his birth and first word, his dream to become President, and his lifeless body lying in a morgue after an apparent hazing.
Horacio Jr., father of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) student, clearly remembers the "warm feeling" that wrapped him when Atio was born 22 years ago.
"When [my wife] was pregnant, we would always hold him... I couldn't wait until he came out," he told ANC's Karen Davila. "It was such a warm feeling when he was born. I told him, 'Welcome to this world."
The first word Atio uttered, he said, was "not mama or daddy; it was Coke."
"We were in a drive-thru... He just made sure that he had his Coke," Atio's mother Carminia Castillo said.
Horacio and Carminia said their son wanted to be a lawyer, senator, and eventually, President.
"He liked the symbol (seal) of the President. He put that in his vision board when he was still very, very young," Horacio Jr. said.
YOUNG, AMBITIOUS, DEAD
On Sept. 16, Castillo told his parents that he would be attending the Aegis Jvris fraternity's welcome rites at the UST campus. On the morning of the next day, he was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Before dawn on Sept. 18, the Castillos received a text message that their son's body was at the Chinese General Hospital.
"They said a Chinese-looking guy brought him... I asked, so where is my son? At that moment, my world stopped. I wanted to know if he was alive or dead," Horacio Jr. said.
A nurse then told Atio's parents that an unidentified body was brought to their hospital but later transferred to a funeral parlor in Sampaloc.
The deceased, they were told, was wearing a UST shirt - just like the one their son would often wear to sleep.
"When we got there sa funeral home, we were in a hurry, I wanted to see if it was him. When the door opened, I already saw his foot. Sabi ko, 'Oh my God, that is his foot,'" said Carminia.
"The bad part was he was not identified. It says there, 'unidentified male.'"
Criminal charges have been filed against several Aegis Jvris fratmen, including John Paul Solano, who allegedly brought Atio to the hospital. Also charged was UST Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina.
On Tuesday, another hazing suspect, Ralph Trangia, returned to the Philippines from the United States to face the charges. He had left Manila on Sept. 19, a day after the Castillos learned of their son's death.
The incident has also prompted separate House and Senate inquiries seeking to overhaul the Anti-Hazing Law.
"Light a candle for him (Atio) so he could see the light, just pray for him so he can move forward," Carminia said.
"We just want justice. We want him to move on as well, we want him to be happy."