ILOILO CITY — The body of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Daniela Demafelis arrived in Iloilo, her hometown, early Saturday.
Joanna’s parents and siblings started to weep as the crew of the Iloilo International Airport wheeled her body in a wooden box towards them at the cargo bay.
The family members were in white with the message “Justice for Joanna Demafelis”.
“Ate, gumising ka. Alam kong buhay ka pa (Wake up. I know you are still alive),” shouted repeatedly by the migrant worker’s youngest sister Joyce, who cried heavily in front of the box.
Their mother Eva, also kept on shouting Joanna’s nickname “baby girl”, while her husband Crisanto silently wept behind her together with their other children.
The 29-year-old slain OFW is the sixth among nine siblings.
Prior to the arrival of the body, Joanna’s mother expressed her grief over the death of her daughter whom she last met in 2014, before she left for Kuwait in May of the same year.
Eva described Joanna as a “very loving and kind daughter”.
Hans Leo Cacdac, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), together with Joanna’s two siblings arrived at the cargo bay, 20 minutes after the body.
They all came from Manila bringing back her remains via commercial flight of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) PR 2139.
“Kami po ay muling nagpapahatid ng aming pakikiisa at pakikiramay sa pamilya Demafelis sa ngalan ng DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) at ng OWWA, Kalihim Silvestre Bello III at pahatid na rin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte na patuloy ang aming pakikiramay at pagtulong sa pamilya Demafelis (We again extend our unity and sympathy to the Demafelis family on behalf of DOLE and OWWA, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte also extends his condolences and assistance to the family),” he said.
Cacdac gave assurance that the government will provide help to the family’s livelihood and other needs.
He specifically mentioned the assistance for the education of Joanna’s youngest sister who dreams of becoming a successful policewoman.
Joyce, 20, is a graduating Criminology student in Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) in Ajuy, Iloilo but has dropped out last year when her sister suddenly stopped sending money.
Rosela Demafelis, Joanna’s aunt, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that her sister’s education and her wish to rebuild their house destroyed by “Yolanda” were among the reasons why Joanna decided to work in Kuwait.
Due to poverty, the victim was only able to finish high school at Sara National High School. Only two of her siblings were able to enter college.
From the Iloilo International Airport, Joanna’s body was immediately brought to Somo Funeral Homes in Barangay Malayuan, Ajuy in the same province to be transferred to a proper casket.
It will then be brought to their house in Barangay Ferraris in Sara, Iloilo. The wake may last for two weeks, the family said.
Aside from her immediate family members, relatives and residents of Barangay Ferraris travelled for more than two hours going to the airport in Cabatuan town just to meet and collect Joanna’s body.
They were outside the cargo bay with tarpaulins asking for justice for the slain victims.
At least 30 rented and private vehicles followed the hearse carrying the body going to the funeral home.
The migrant worker’s body was found inside a freezer in the Al Shaab district of Kuwait on February 9, a year after she had gone missing.
She reportedly sustained broken ribs and internal bleeding before she died. Cindy Ferrer/PNA-northboundasia.com