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’90 quake forced slain lawyer to migrate

- Pia Lee-Brago -
The destruction of a hotel he had put up in Baguio City during the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake convinced slain lawyer Teodoro Gonzales to migrate with his family to Sydney, Australia.

Nearly 11 years after migrating, Gonzales, his wife Mary Josephine Loiva and their daughter Clodine were found brutally murdered in their home in North Ryde, Sydney on July 10.

Annie Rose Paraan, sister of Gonzales’ wife Loiva, recalled that the July 1990 quake was the first tragedy that hit the lives of the Gonzales family who lost their hotel business shortly thereafter.

Paraan said Sef, the 20-year-old surviving son of Teodoro and Loiva, nearly lost his life in the quake.

"My sister, however, found solace in God and made a move to leave the past behind by convincing Kuya (Teodoro) to migrate to Sydney," Paraan said in a eulogy for her elder sister as reported by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

She said emigrating to Australia helped the Gonzaleses start a new life and restored the religious faith that Teodoro had "almost lost" after his hotel was destroyed in the quake.

Loiva was the eldest in a family of six who missed growing up with her siblings because their grandmother took care of her.

Paraan described Loiva as a devoted, hardworking and loving wife and was responsible in keeping her family together.

In the eulogy for his father, Sef said he thought the 1990 killer quake that destroyed the whole hotel that his father had just built was the last major tragedy in their lives.

Sef, who was then 10 years old, recalled that everyone inside their hotel managed to get out when the earthquake struck but he was trapped in the stairway and his leg was caught in debris.

Gonzales ran back to the building and squeezed himself through a crack in the wall to save Sef but he had to endure chronic pain after he tore a ligament during the incident.

"That was the last major tragedy in our lives," Sef said, lamenting that he would now never know the meaning of the three letters of his name which his father had promised to tell him when he turns 21.

A necrological Mass was held at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in North Ryde that was well attended by representatives of the family and members of the Filipino community.

The remains of the family were immediately buried afterwards at the Macquarie Cemetery, also in North Ryde.

Gonzales, who brought his family to Sydney from the Philippines in 1991, was a solicitor specializing in immigration law.

The 46-year-old lawyer was found stabbed to death in the hallway by Sef, who returned to the family’s home in the suburb of North Ryde before midnight July 10.

Loiva, 43, was found by her son in the living room of the two-story home and 18-year-old Clodine in an upstairs bedroom with their throats cut.

Sources close to the police investigation said a racial slur was daubed on a wall close to one of the bodies but detectives still have not established a motive for the killings.

ANNIE ROSE PARAAN BAGUIO CITY CLODINE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FAMILY GONZALES HOLY SPIRIT CATHOLIC CHURCH LOIVA NORTH RYDE PARAAN SEF
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