TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The body of a Philippine caregiver who perished in last week's deadly Hualien Earthquake will be arriving in her home town tomorrow (Thursday), according to her cousin in an interview with CNA.
The female Philippine caregiver, identified as Melody Albano Castro, was confirmed dead on Feb. 8 after her body was found in the rubble of the Yun Men Tsui Ti Building (雲門翠堤). The 28-year-old woman worked as a caregiver for a Japanese family, including a 63-year-old woman, Sumin Okubo (大久保淑珉), her 68-year-old husband, who is disabled from a stroke, and Okubo's mute younger brother.
Castro's cousin, Mishelle Pacquing Macanaya Rosales, 33, told CNA that her remains were transported on a plane from Taipei to Manila this morning and are slated to arrive tomorrow (Feb. 15) at Tuguegarao City, the capital of the province of Cagayan in the northeast of Luzon Island.
Next, Rosales estimated that it will take another two to three hours for Castro's casket to reach her home village, sometime in the afternoon. Rosales says that she will try to take time off from her work as a teacher to join family members as they wait for her casket to arrive in Tuguegarao City.
On Tuesday, the Hualien County government held a funeral services for all victims of the earthquake, including Castro, and though her family was not able to attend, friends were able to offer their final respects.
With the blessing of Castro's family, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) along with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration of the Philippines coordinated the efforts in transporting Castro's remains and managed all other matters related to her death.
Castro (right) holding her daughter (left). (CNA image)
Rosales said that Castro had mainly come to Taiwan to raise funds to pay for her husband's surgery. She said that Castro's husband was involved in a collision when he was riding a scooter in 2014 and suffered paralysis on the right side of his body, has difficulty speaking and needs an additional operation.
Okubo said that Castro had already spent NT$350,000 (US$11,900) on her husband's initial surgery, but that she would need to raise an additional NT$450,000 to pay for brain surgery. Castro had been planning to work for 10 years to raise the additional funds for the surgery.
According to Rosales, after hearing the news of her death, her husband has been crying nonstop and family members are unable to understand what he is saying, only that they can tell from his facial expression that he is greatly pained by her death.
Castro is survived by a daughter, also named Melody, who is six years old, a younger brother, husband and two parents.
In an interview with CNA, her brother, Jayson Albano Castro, said that "We are very sad and everyone can only try to endure the grief." He says that he will try to fill the void that his sister left by helping to care for his brother-in-law and take responsibility for all other matters.
Okubo was so sad about the news of the death of her caregiver and friend that she left her bed in the emergency room to speak to the media. Choking back tears, she said, "Soon, we will meet in heaven, it is just that you will no longer be able to care for your husband and children any longer, it's a pity. We've lost a helper. We had never met a caregiver as good as her. She was our little angel," reported Apple Daily.