Volunteer who died in Tacloban brought to Manila

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2015 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The body of the 27-year-old volunteer who died here after the papal mass on Saturday was brought to Manila yesterday.

The remains of aid worker Kristel Mae Padasas were flown the Philippine Air Force (PAF) out of Tacloban City on a C-130 plane yesterday afternoon, hours after Pope Francis left the country.

Her body arrived at the Villamor Air Base at about 3 p.m. and was tem porarily brought to the St. Mark Chapel inside the air base.

Padasas’ remains arrived at her family’s residence along Caramay Street in Barangay Signal Village, Taguig City at 5 p.m.

She died after scaffolding collapsed on her at the site of the papal mass shortly after Pope Francis departed.

Padasas supposedly took shelter from the rain under the steel scaffolding holding huge speakers when it was toppled by the strong winds of Tropical Storm Amang.

A memorial mass was held for her at the Redemptorist Church last Sunday, said Kim Margallo, volunteers management committee chairman of the Archdiocese of Palo.

Padasas’ uncle Bong Recuenco described her as a cheerful person with a big heart.

Recuenco said “Mae Mae” resigned from her job in the human resources department of a business process outsourcing (BPO) company to serve as a volunteer in the Catholic Relief Service (CRS).

He recalled that Padasas celebrated her birthday last year with an urban poor community at Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila and he even jokingly told her she “may just want to live in Smokey Mountain.”

“She told me that she was based in Samar but would go to Tacloban for the pope’s mass then go to Cebu to attend the Sinulog,” he said.

Recuenco said the family was surprised to learn that the C-130 that carried her body made a stopover at the Mactan Airport in Cebu.

“Maybe they were just fulfilling her wish,” he said.

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, media officer of the Archdiocese of Palo, accompanied Padasas’ remains to Taguig and celebrated mass during her wake.

“I have heard from her college friends that she worked for the poor. Maybe that is the reason she worked for the CRS,” Alvero said.

For their part, the CRS said yesterday they would remember Padasas as a woman who loved to laugh and was always ready to lend a hand.

“Her colleagues remember her as someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties. She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families,” the CRS said.

According to CRS, which is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, Padasas worked on a recovery project for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS,” the CRS said.

As a CRS volunteer based at Salcedo, Eastern Samar, Padasas volunteered to also help in the preparations for the pope’s mass in Tacloban City.

The group promised to pray for her, just as Pope Francis himself asked the crowd at a youth gathering at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to include her in their prayers.

“I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our mama, our lady, in heaven,” the pope said. “Let us pray for her parents. She was an only daughter.”

The pontiff met with the girl’s father at the Apostolic Nunciature, gave him three rosaries and two medallions with the image of the Sto. Niño and blessed pictures of Padasas last Sunday.  – With  Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Mike Frialde, Jaime Laude


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