On Saturday night, while waiting for his father to pick him up at a Brampton bus terminal, 22 year-old Kev Panlilio saw a man screaming at a young woman. When the man began to punch her, Panlilio, the lone witness in the terminal, knew that he needed to step in.
Although he was very afraid, he followed his intuition. “I wasn’t able to do a pros/cons list in my head— it was as if only my instinct was driving me to come closer to the couple,” he said. “Even before I had concluded that this may be a bad decision, I was already punched twice in the face.”
When the abuser began to hit him, the girl was able to break free and run away. Panlilio realized that he wasn’t afraid of being hurt, but he was more worried about making his mother suffer if he was hurt or killed. “She loves me more than I love myself,” he said. “That was my greatest fear during the 10 seconds the incident took place.”
He was able to stop the man by pleading, “Stop and find something that’ll make you happy.” The abuser went back to his car and drove away.
After uploading his story and a picture of his bruised face to Facebook, he saw an outpouring of public support. Within the first 20 hours, his post already garnered 10,500 likes and has been shared over 400 times. He has received comments from strangers around the world, and while a few stated that he should have been more careful, most are calling him a hero.
Panlilio has been overwhelmed by the response. “I actually didn’t want to post this on Facebook in fear of people thinking of me as a wuss because I didn’t fight the guy back,” he said. “I believe it’s gotten the response it did because a lot of people are silent, waiting for someone to set a clear example.”
He urges victims of abuse not to be afraid to let people know that they need help. “People who are being abused might feel enslaved by their abuser, and that’s a reflection of how they see themselves. You are awesome and you are of worth— be with someone that is sane enough to see that!”
And for those who may witness violence, Panlilio said, “Step in, if you can. We as a community of human beings should not tolerate domestic violence, or any type of violence for that matter. God created us and planned for us to be antidotes to this virus-stricken world. Some people choose to live life to be a virus, and we should try our best to stop ‘em.”
He even regarded this as a blessing, stating, “I am just blessed enough to be put in a situation where I can choose to do what’s right, instead of just standing idly by.”
Kevin Panlilio is a Brampton-based graphic designer, music video director, and producer and editor at Hamilton’s YES TV, and he loves chicken and rice with soy sauce.
This article was published in The Philippine Reporter on March 27th, 2015.