Nercy's life was peppered with contradictions. You can see this in her social media posts, where she paired vaguely romantic statements with goofy selfies. She was chirpy, adventurous and easygoing, but in her diary, she wrote down solemn supplications to God.
She lived with her parents and nine siblings in their tiny home, just one of many shanties lining one of many narrow alleys in Navotas. Somehow, though, Nercy managed to make a little space for the one obsession she had—Hello Kitty. She collected all things Hello Kitty, from socks to towels to clothes, as if in defiance of the gritty reality of her surroundings.
But nothing would be more incongruous than Nercy's death in April 2017, just a few months short of her seventeenth birthday. She went out for a joyride on a scooter with a friend one evening and never came home.
Two days later, a Facebook post from an Obando policeman asked if anyone could recognise the woman in the accompanying photos. The photos showed Nercy's lifeless body lying on the ground. She had been shot twice in the head by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike.
There's no making sense of how and why Nercy was gunned down, with apparently no witnesses. In the time of Duterte, hardly anything makes sense anymore. Nercy's family not only lost a beloved child, they also had to shell out ₱15,000 (£235) to claim her body from the morgue—an amount of money an impoverished family couldn't easily come up with. What kind of society normalises the brutal murder of a child, then charges the child's parents for it?
Nercy's family decorated her coffin with Hello Kitty stickers and toys. The gazebo that sheltered her coffin during her wake was draped with pink Hello Kitty curtains, a pop of colour against the concrete wall facing the polluted river.
At Nercy's funeral, the cortège was led by Hello Kitty scooter riders, followed by Nercy's family all dressed in bright pink. They knew that poor people like them couldn't expect justice, and all they could do was give a fitting farewell to a girl who, in a kinder world, would have still had her whole life ahead of her.