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  • Nonie Buencamino Tells Parents: 'Look Deeply Into Your Child's Activities'

    Nonie Buencamino recalls there were a lot of things their daughter Julia hid from them.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Nonie Buencamino Tells Parents: 'Look Deeply Into Your Child's Activities'
PHOTO BY @buencaminoanthony, hoolianabanana / Instagram
  • Actor Nonie Buencamino thought nothing more of the scratches he used to see on his youngest daughter Julia's leg and dismissed them as "normal lang." On July 7, 2015, Julia, 15 years old, died in an apparent suicide.

    In an interview on ABS-CBN's Tonight With Boy Abunda on February 27, three years after losing Julia, Nonie shared that in retrospect, they missed the telltale signs that pointed to his daughter's depression.

    "May nakita ako na scratches or scars dun sa kanyang leg and I asked her, 'Are you hurting yourself?' and then she said 'No, it's just from playing.' She got mad. Pero ako naman bilang tatay, iniwan ko na doon. Meron ding konting denial na, 'She wouldn't hurt herself.'

    "'Yung mga bagay na nangyayari sa kanya, yung mga hurt nya, akala namin normal lang, nakipag-away dun sa classmate, yung ganun. Pero yun pala, malalim pala," he pointed out.

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    Nonie and his wife, fellow award-winning actor Shamaine Centenera, put up The Julia Buencamino Project in honor of their daughter.

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    "Ang gusto sana namin ay makatulong sa iba na mailabas, na hindi dapat ikahiya, atsaka mawala yung stigma ng mga taong merong mental health issues," he told Boy Abunda, the host. "Nakakalungkot isipin pero marami talagang lumalapit sa amin. Maraming kaso ng mga teenagers na akala mo okay."

    Nonie's advice to parents: "Look more deeply into the activities of your children, what they're doing, and what they're going through."

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    He recalled how Julia kept a lot of her thoughts and feelings to herself. "Marami syang itinago sa amin, marami syang front. I would like to think that she's a good actress [because] she was able to hide it. Ang dami nyang tinago sa mga diaries nya, sa artwork nya, sa kanyang poetry. Dun lang namin nakilala [when she was gone] kung ano pala yung pinagdadaanan nya. She was going through a deep form of depression. And she was hurting herself from the time she was 12 until she was 15.

    "[And] we had no idea."

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    Nonie mentioned this was compounded by Julia's mental health issues. "Meron pala syang form of illness, and then that makes it worse kasi yung perception nag-iiba, dahil sa merong chemical imbalance," he explained.

    According to a 2018 report by Pep.ph, a psychological autopsy on Julia revealed that she was suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental illness that is "marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior." 

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    Through their advocacy, Nonie and Shamaine hope they could help create awareness and further the cause of mental health.

    "We can't say that we are experts on mental health, but we have a story to tell. Kasi nasosolusyunan naman. Kapag na-treat, tapos nagkaron ng therapy, pwede silang mabuhay nang normal. They can excel sa buhay bilang magagaling na professionals," Nonie added. 

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    Don't be afraid to reach out if you or your child is feeling anxious, helpless, or despondent. If you need someone to talk to: 
    1. Crisis Line +633 893-7603 / +63 917 800-1123 / + 63 922 893-8944 
    2. Manila Lifeline Center at +632 896-9191 or +63 917 854-9191
    3. Department of Health's 24-hour suicide prevention hotline Hopeline +632 804-4637 / +63 917 558-4673 and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers 
    4. You can also join SOS Philippines on Facebook, a support group founded for survivors of suicide loss and Filipinos undergoing mental health ailments like depression and bipolar disorder.
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