By Beting Laygo Dolor, Contributing Editor

The death of a Philippine Airlines flight attendant on New Year’s Day after a night of partying in Makati hotel was not only the biggest news of the day. It also electrified a nation after conflicting details came out of the tragedy.

Christine Dacera, 23, was discovered in an empty bathtub of room 2209 in City Garden Hotel along Poblacion, Makati City around noon of January 1. She was rushed by her friends and hotel staff to Makati Medical Center, where she was declared dead on arrival.

Cause of death was an aneurism.

What made the story sensational was not the cause of death but rather claims by the police that she was raped after traces of semen were found in her genitals, along with bruises and scratches in various parts of her body.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Debold Sinas declared the crime solved after three suspects were arrested, with eight more being warned to surrender by Friday this week or face possible violent arrest.

As can be gathered from the hotel, Dacera checked into one room with two friends, while nine others were in adjoining rooms. One of Dacera’s friends knew some of the other guests in the other rooms and they agreed to have a drinking party.

The first sensational aspect of the incident was that Dacera was the only female in the group, with all the 11 others being gay or bisexual males.

More than one of the guests said they were all gay and could not have had sex with the victim.

One of them is the son of former top singer of the 70s, Claire dela Fuente, who has since retired and made a fortune as owner/operator of a fleet of public utility buses plying the EDSA route.

Dela Fuente’s son, Gregorio de Guzman, said he was among the three guests who took Dacera to Makati Med.

“My conscience is clean,” he said, “I was with her all the way to the hospital and I never left her side.”

Another of the guests who was still in hiding as of press time insisted that all of them were gay, with some even having boyfriends, none of whom attended the party.

“We only wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve by getting drunk,” he said. He, however, admitted that “maybe” some of them also took drugs.

Dacera’s mother was adamant that her daughter had been raped and killed despite no indication of foul play. She insisted on having another autopsy on her daughter’s remains.

This, however, became all but impossible after the flight attendant’s body had already been embalmed shortly after autopsy.

Mother and daughter had spoken in the early morning hours of January 1, or shortly before the victim passed out in the bathtub.

In social media meanwhile, netizens slammed the victim shaming that went on, with some asking why a single woman would spend an evening alone with 11 men.

Some said the victim was asking for trouble and was possibly gang raped based on the initial report from the PNP.

“Gay men can also rape,” was a common thread by callous commenters.

The names and photos of the 11 gay men was released by the PNP and posted over social media. All were in their 20s.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao stepped into the fray when he offered a reward of PHP500,000 (about US$10,400) for information leading to the arrest of the eight suspects who had gone into hiding.

One reason that the Dacera case hogged the headlines was the victim herself. She could be described as conventionally pretty enough to be a beauty contestant or movie star. She was also found to have brains besides her obvious beauty. Dacera earned a Communications degree from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with cum laude honors.

PAL cited her professionalism and asked the public to respect the privacy of her family.