Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s the beginning of the Lenten season, when Catholics decide to give something up during this annual period of self-examination and self-denial.
Today, however, is a day for me to talk about the things I will not give up on. It’s the three-year anniversary of the disappearance of my cousin Marizela Perez — “Emem” or “Mei” to her loved ones. She walked out of a Safeway grocery store on the University of Washington campus in Seattle on March 5, 2011 and hasn’t been seen since.
I haven’t given up hope that she may still be alive.
I haven’t given up hope that she will be reunited safe and sound with her parents, Edgar and Jasmin.
I haven’t given up hope that somebody, somewhere, knows something that will help locate her and will finally come forward.
I do wonder what it will take for the Seattle Police Department to release its investigative file in Emem’s case so that family members can pursue all leads and see the Internet records that we pushed for the detective to obtain in the first place.
Please, continue to keep your eyes and ears open for Marizela — and all families of the missing.
Lahat ay magiging maayos.
Once again, my reminder about lessons learned the hard way for families of young adults who go missing:
1) Document EVERYTHING.
2) Take an immediate and full inventory of your loved one’s Internet footprint — every email account, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and social networking account.
3) Don’t assume the police are pinging cell phones, obtaining Internet or phone records, or obtaining surveillance camera video. Don’t assume anything.
4) Make sure your loved one’s info gets into the NAMUS database immediately.
5) Don’t be afraid to be a squeaky wheel. If you don’t speak up, no one will.