Death Be Not Proud : Bits & Pieces on the Christchurch 11


Christchurch Cathedral before the earthquake.

Dear kabatch, schoolmates, brods, kabayan, officemates, Huttmates and friends :

FOR THIS accidental migrant, there are two caveats or bewares that come attached to every blog, especially one that we create.

The first concerns the basic delusion of all bloggers, that he or she nurtures some pretensions to eloquence and all its rewards. This is dependent on any and all communications of approval or praise from readers who accidentally or otherwise have set aside precious time to read such blog/s.

Well, we confess that we are not immune to this vanity, and therefore each and every offering you read (by force or otherwise) from us carries such a caveat. What we write below is a notable exception however, as we let out as little of ourselves as possible, letting the words speak for themselves.

You see, although we know not a single person out of the Christchurch 11, those who gave up their lives in the pursuit of the Pinoy OFW dream, we feel a certain kinship with them.

One or more of them might have brushed our shoulder in a visit to Wellington, for all we know, or may have attended a chance Filipino Mass in the NZ capital early this year before proceeding southward. To be sure, we’ve never met them personally, or even met friends of friends before or after the tragedy, but at the back of our mind we always wondered, what were they like, and was there anything for us to get to know them a little better?

With advance apologies to their families for taking the initiative ( if one could call it that ) to do this, we thought it would be a half-decent idea for the Pinoy community in NZ and elsewhere, the nursing profession (especially those working away from home) and everyone else in our extended family of lahing kayumanggi to get to know a little more of our compatriots and kabayan as they go home to God.

If ever anyone is offended by anything here, or if the information is spotty or inaccurate, we offer our humble apologies. For the record, the Christchurch 11 were victims of the 22nd February 2011 Christchurch NZ earthquake that according to Prime Minister John Key was among “the darkest day(s) in New Zealand’s history”, at least nine of the 11 were nurses ( we’re not sure about the other two ) and most of them were taking an English language course preparatory or to improve their chances of practicing nursing in New Zealand :

Lalaine Agatep is a 38-year old nurse. A newspaper report from her family was datelined Tuguegarao, Cagayan so it must be safe to presume that she is from the north. A dramatic photo of her sister Leila Garcia and brother-in-law was published in the front page of the Wellington’s Dominion Post a few days after the earthquake.

Mary Louise Anne Amantillo hails from Iloilo and her mother refused to give up on her long after rescue efforts gave way to recovery operations. She was supposed to keep an internet chat appointment with her mom that fateful day, but instead sent an SMS text message the morning of the 22nd, saying simply, “Mom, I’m trapped.” She graduated high school from Angelicum School Iloilo in 2004. She is a 23-year old nurse.

Emmabelle Anoba was born and raised in Minglanilla, Cebu, and her last location was at the third floor of the CTV Bldg, attending classes conducted by King’s Education, a language school. She is a nurse.

Valquin Bensurto listened to Paramore, Oasis, Matisyahu, Snow Patrol and Owl City, liked Cow & Chicken, Detroit Rock City, Gran Torino, South Park and Pranked, and although we can’t confirm it 100%, was a nurse and came from Iloilo.

Ivy Jane Cabunilas’s passage from Earth was confirmed in a report from The Freeman last 8th March, so we are assuming (guardedly) that she is from the Cebu region. She is a practicing nurse.

John Kristoffer Chua passed the Philippine Nursing Board examinations 2009, is 23 years old and grew up in Lapu-lapu City.

Jewel Francisco was the last of the 11 confirmed to have perished in the earthquake (last Friday), was 26 years old. We can’t confirm if she was a nurse.

Jessie-Lloyd Redoble and Ezra Mae Medalle were the star-crossed sweethearts who staked out their careers and future in New Zealand, and who ultimately became linked in eternity. Nurses both, a little more is known about Jessie-Lloyd, who was an alumnus of Andres Bonifacio College of Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, and passed the nursing licensure examinations of 2008.

Rhea Mae Sumalpong, a 25-year old nurse, graduated from Cebu’s Southwestern Univesity in 2007 and Univesity of San Jose Recoletos in 2002, came from a family of medical professionals and created one of the most beautiful and heartwarming Multiply sites we ever beheld. She came from Naga, Cebu.

We reserve the last place for Erica Avir Reyes Nora, who composed a light-hearted but in hindsight quite poignant sketch of herself in her Facebook page, which appears below. She grew up in Malabon and attended Arellano and Our Lady of Fatima Universities. We reproduce the self-sketch as well as the “font” she has created :

“I’m eRICAh jUzt kOl mE kAng frOm NEw zEaLaNd (hAha) / yOu cAn caLl ME aLcohoLiC bUt i caLL iT a dArn goOd tiMe hAha / cOnfiDenCe iZ waT MAkEs mE sExy /   i dOn’t cAre if u dOn’t Lyk Me eVeryOne dAt mAttErS aLrEadY apprOvEs  / tHe LiTtLe thIngsS mAkE mE LaUgh, iT’s nOt HArd tO pLeAse Me…

I’m a fReE spiRiT / I’m strOng aNd dEterminEd  / i loVE tO loOk aT tHe stArs /  i’M jUst a gUrL, anD dAts aLL i WaNna BE  /  i’M nOt a pErFecT girL. mY HAir dOesn’t aLwaYs stAY in pLACe and i spiLL thinGs a LoT /                   i’M pReTty cLuMSy aND suMtiMez i HAve a brOken HEart…

my fRnDz aND i sumtiMez fiGht aND MAyBE sUmdAyS nOthiNg gOes riGht bUt whEn i thiNk abOut iT aND TAke a stEp BAck / i RemEmBEr hOw amAzing LifE tRuLy is / aNd tHat MAybE jUst MAybE i LikE bEinG UNPERFECT. ”

** ** ** **

We reiterate that you may have had more information than we had; if there are any omissions and inaccuracies here, we apologize in advance in the name of human error.

Earlier we mentioned two caveats in the imperfect art of blogging. The second, we almost forgot to add, is that there exists the peril of getting too involved, of writing or using oneself as an instrument of communication in too personal a manner.

Given the subject matter and the general sentiment among all of us, this is a risk we are willing to assume this time.

To our Christchurch kabayan who left us, God bless you all, good night but not farewell.

Mabuhay tayong lahat !



3 thoughts on “Death Be Not Proud : Bits & Pieces on the Christchurch 11

  1. Pingback: From cheesy to sublime : How Kiwis perceive Pinoys « YLBnoel's Blog

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