Cebu News

Search for ‘missing’ wife stirs public

Mae Clydyl L. Avila - The Freeman
Search for âmissingâ wife stirs public
Lawyer Jamaal James Calipayan assists police investigator in checking the car of his wife, Sarah, after the latter was reported missing.
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal

CEBU, Philippines — Caught up in the pressures of work, lawyer Sarah Calipayan had been battling depression recently, so when she never showed up home Tuesday evening, husband Jamaal James turned to Facebook to report she was missing.

Twelve hours later, as police were searching Sarah’s vehicle left outside a commercial complex in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City, Sarah, 33, would surface to reunite with her husband in what seemed to be a case of “all’s well that ends well.”

“I would like to sincerely thank every one of the 4,500 people who shared the post I made earlier when my wife disappeared. I am a worrier, and it’s my fault it has escalated, but the circumstances warranted that I do everything in my capacity to find the love of my life,” Jamaal, 35, would later write on the social media.

“I would like to think that any man who loves his woman and vice-versa would have done the same.”

And he did what a loving husband would have to.

Jamaal waited for her to arrive at 11 p.m., the usual time Sarah returns from work.

But there were no signs of her. She was not returning the text messages and calls either.

After several failed calls, Jamaal dozed off, only to be awakened by a text message from Sarah’s mother. It allegedly read: “I’m on way home, babe. I love you.”

It was unclear whether Sarah sent the message to the wrong number or was intentionally avoiding a reply to her husband.

Having grown more worried, he first went to check his wife in her workplace at the Cebu Business Park where he discovered that she left at 6:28 p.m. the night prior.

He sought help from the Abellana Police Station, but authorities could not classify the situation as a case of a missing person just yet because not 24 hours had passed after the supposed disappearance took place.

Police advised Jamaal to flash his wife’s Honda City car’s plate number (FHY 588) to the traffic patrol unit for checking.

While waiting for the 24-hour timeframe, he then took it upon himself to search for his wife, driving to places where she could have been. He drove around Panagdait and Banilad in Cebu City, and even reached Mandaue City.

Cebu Sixth District Representative Jonas Cortes would later help him in the search. Jamaal works as the congressman’s chief of staff.

By 7 a.m. yesterday, his wife finally sent him a text: “Nakatug ko sa floor sa office nako, basin separation anxiety lang ni tungod mo-resign na ko. Don’t worry, I’ll go home.”

But when Jamaal and policemen trooped to the workplace, Sarah was nowhere to be found.

“Nitawag dayon ko (after the call) but dili ma-contact. After a while, ma-dial pero wala’y motubag, usahay busy, hangtod mo-subscriber cannot be reached. Pag-abot namo didto, wala’y natug, walay tawo sa office,” Jamal told reporters.

Cops were able to locate Sarah’s vehicle parked at Banilad Town Center on Governor M. Cuenco Avenue past 8 a.m. yesterday.

Honda personnel came to lead the procedure to open the vehicle.

Crime Scene Investigation personnel from Cebu City Police Office did not see any traces of possible robbery. They found keys, cards, and a pillow inside.


Amid the wait for the footage of the car’s dash camera, Sarah surfaced in a fitting gray dress and pointed heels. A pink sling bag hung on her shoulder.

Her right hand was holding a phone while the other was covering her face.

She was greeted by her husband, and they were made to get inside a parked white van to talk. There, they hugged.

According to Abellana Police Station Chief Maria Theresa Macatangay, Sarah said she was too drunk to reply to calls and had opted to rent a room in a nearby hotel.

Macatangay said they consider the case closed, seeing no liability on the part of the couple. She said police ought to perform their duties, whether or not the report is confirmed.

“I don’t see any liability therein because again suffering man gud og anxiety. So we cannot really measure how deep her anxiety was, maayo ra gani kay wa siya maghikog or unsa,” said Macatangay.

The police chief said pressure from work may have consumed Sarah.

Sarah has just tendered a resignation from a big real estate developer for which she worked as a legal counsel.  The company allegedly wanted her to stay until it could find a replacement.

Jamaal clarified there were no threats to his wife’s life.

“Usa na sa reason ngano ganahan siya moundang, dili threat, grabe iyang stress. Di siya ganahan nga daghan siya kaaway kay as a lawyer, daghan siya og makontra sa iyang trabaho. Moingon lang siya og ‘Kapoy na.’ Niabot lang gyud sa point nga di na siya ganahan mopadayon sa iyang work,” he said.

Talk It Out

Cebu-based psychologist Maryjun Delgado said stress from work or home can trigger depression, and in order to fight it, an individual must exert an effort to talk to his or her partner or those he or she trusts.

“If naay problema, kailangan naay kaistorya nga masaligan. All problems should not be handled alone, if it’s a family problem. Take time for yourself – kanang gitawag nga ‘me time.’ Do something productive or talk to somebody,” Delgado advised.

Meanwhile, Jamaal is asking the public to spare his wife from criticisms and for netizens to spread positivity instead of trolls.

“Nothing of this was done intentionally so I hope you will help us get the privacy we once had as a couple. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience I have caused. Not that I wish for it but I would do it again if something like that happens to any of my loved ones,” he wrote. —/JMD (FREEMAN)


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