Days before Christmas, photos of Patricia “Ica” Policarpio, 17, were shared by thousands of Filipinos on social media. The teenager was found three days after she was reported missing and now, some are linking the incident to an online challenge called The Game of 72.
#Find Ica: Lost and Found Teenager
On Dec. 22, Friday, Bea Policarpio, older sister of Ica, took to Facebook to share photos of her teenage sister. In the post, Bea said Ica has been missing since the evening of Dec. 21, Thursday, and was last seen in Coffee Project, a coffee shop in a mall on East Service Road in Sucat, Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila.
The post was shared more than 47,000 times. Among the Filipino celebrities who shared the post in their social media accounts were Regine Velasquez, Kris Aquino, Drew Arellano and Coco Martin.
CCTV footage showed Ica leaving her personal belongings including her bag, laptop and cell phone in the coffee shop. Another CCTV footage showed her buying a bottled water supposedly to break her 1,000-peso bill to pay for her tab in the coffee shop.
On Dec. 24, Sunday, police finally found Ica in San Pablo City, Laguna, which is approximately a two-hour ride away from Sucat. Her father, lawyer Rufino Policarpio III, spoke in a press conference shortly after she reunited with her family.
The Policarpio family received a phone call a day before Christmas Day informing them of Ica’s whereabouts, Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Rufino as saying. He asked for understanding and requested for privacy as Ica refused to narrate how she went missing.
“We respect her privacy,” Rufino said of Ica. “We respect her state, her psychological condition.”
Rufino revealed that his family has yet to talk to Ica about the details of her disappearance. He added, “In due time, we will find out the truth.”
According to Rufino, he and Ica had a father-daughter discussion a day before the teenager disappeared but he did not elaborate on what it was about. He added that when his wife asked Ica if she left because of the said discussion, the teenager smiled and said no.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) is looking into the possibility that someone urged Ica to leave. NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde pointed out that there was no indication of any kidnapping as nobody asked for ransom and they will continue on with their investigation.
Several celebrities took to social media to celebrate Ica’s reunion with her family. Among them were Gretchen Ho, Ryan Eigenmann and Gabbi Garcia.
Ica is a Grade 12 student and niece of Jimmy Policarpio, who served as the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief for Joseph Ejercito Estrada, former actor and the ninth president of the Philippines. Since 2013, Estrada has been the Mayor of the City of Manila.
#GameOf72: Online Trends and Challenges
Ica disappeared for three days, the same rules of the online challenge called The Game of 72. This and the fact that the family has yet to reveal the details of Ica’s disappearance led some Filipinos to speculate that the teenager accepted the online challenge to disappear for three days.
Among the most successful online trends and challenges was the Ice Bucket Challenge. In 2015, the whole world participated in the challenge that encourages individuals to take a video of themselves as they dump a bucket of ice and water over their head, promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research.
But not all successful online trends and challenges are sensible. Some are ridiculous and dangerous and the participants are teenagers.
For example, teenagers participated in The Duct Tape Challenge, a game asking people to wrap themselves in duct-tape and try to break free. Also, teenagers joined The Cinnamon Challenge by coughing and spluttering while trying to eat a spoonful of cinnamon, which could cause a collapsed lung.
Some participants of The Salt and Ice Challenge suffered from second and third-degree burns after holding salt and ice together in a closed fist. Many teenage girls also suffered from busted lips after doing The Kylie Jenner Challenge by inserting lips in a shot glass and sucking in an attempt to have similar lips as those of the younger sister of Kim Kardashian.
Parents around the world panicked when they became aware of The 48 Hour Challenge, a copycat of The Game of 72. Believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, the challenge encourages youngsters to pretend that they have gone missing for 48 hours without informing anybody.
Those who participate in The 48 Hour Challenge get points for every mention about them on social media during their disappearance and there is an online ranking of the participants, according to Belfast Live. However, both The Game of 72 and The 48 Hour Challenge are considered as urban legends by others since the authorities have yet to establish evidence of their existence.
In April 2015, a 13-year-old girl from northern France went missing for three days and when she returned home, she refused to tell her parents and the police whom she had been with and where she had been, The Local reported. She simply told them that she had taken on a dare through Facebook called The Game of 72.
Meanwhile, Ica’s family is happy that the teenager is home. They are currently celebrating Christmas together.