It was in 1995 when Filipina domestic helper Flor Contemplacion was sentenced to death by hanging in Singapore. It was a sad day for the Filipino people back then. A year later, another Filipina hit the headlines for serving her 100 strokes of cane together with blood money. She is Sarah Balabagan.
Sarah Balabagan grew up in a poor family in Sultan Kudarat. She did not finish her grade school because of poverty. At a young age of 14, she left her hometown to become a domestic helper in United Arab Emerates. Her recruiters faked her age. Her employer was old enough to be her grandfather. There were early signs of her employer’s sexual advances that she reported to her recruiters but they disregarded her cries for help so she had no choice but to stay with her employer. At 15 years old, Sarah Balabagan killed her employer when he tried to rape her.
At 17 years old, she came back to the Philippines with a hero’s welcome after serving her 3-year jail term and receiving 100 strokes of the cane. The blood money amounting to US$41,000 was donated by businessman Mr. William Gatchalian, father of Senator Win Gatchalian and Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian. Sarah became the symbol of every OFW’s risk and struggles in the hands of their employers. She became an overnight sensation. With her natural beauty and talent, she tried to become a singer and even had a collaboration with Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls. To immortalize her plight, Viva Films made a film out of it which starred popular teen star Vina Morales.
Sarah Balabagan’s world turned a hundred and eighty degrees for the better but her ordeals would not be far from over. Rumors about how her family demanded money from her circulated but Sarah was gracious not to talk about it. The Sarah Balabagan fever from 1996 to 1997 ended abruptly when she became missing in action from 1998 and onwards. At 19 years old, she was rumored to have given birth and people were quick to point fingers at Mr. Roy Seneres, Mr. William Gatchalian, and Mr. Rey Langit as the possible father. Still, Sarah kept her silence. There were occasional mentions of Arnold Clavio as the fourth suspect but most people found it hard to believe that a very much married and respected journalist would take advantage of a young woman’s vulnerability. With Sarah Balabagan’s continued silence, another Sarah quickly rose in the music world. Of course, most of us are aware that in 2002, Sarah Geronimo bagged the 1st prize on the singing contest “Star for a Night.”
Sarah Balabagan kept a low profile from 1998 to August 2020 when she decided it was time for her to reveal the father of her firstborn. While most young people are shocked beyond belief, those who have heard the rumors before simply took it as an “it’s about time” confession.
Whether Sarah Balabagan’s confession has something to do with Arnold Clavio’s anti-Duterte tirades or not, I think that it is about time to put to rest her daughter’s paternity issue. Sarah has been silent since 1998 and isn’t it too long a time to keep a secret that nearly destroyed other personalities like Mr. Roy Seneres, Mr. William Gatchalian, and Mr. Rey Langit?
I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to Arnold Clavio about his reason for not openly admitting his lovechild maybe out of respect to his wife and children. As long as there are child support and a conscious effort to be part of his child’s life, then there should be no further issue about it.
In the end, I hope that Sarah and her child have found their peace together with their family. I hope that Arnold Clavio’s wife and children receive comforting messages, too because whether they like it or not, it would hurt them to see him being attacked by netizens. And for Arnold Clavio, so much has been said about you. You can be critical of any person’s wrongdoings without losing your cool.