Pinay sent text message before MH17 tragedy

from a report by Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2014 08:51 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2014 05:40 AM

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QUEZON - A Filipina who was among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 sent text messages to her relatives in the Philippines before the plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

ABS-CBN News found the relatives of the Filipino fatalities in the MH17 crash in Quezon province.

Irene Gunawan, her Indonesian husband Bujanto Gunawan, and two children Sherlyn Shania and Darryl Dwight, were supposedly headed back to the Philippines to attend an annual family reunion when the tragic accident happened.

The family's relatives found out that the Gunawans were on board the ill-fated aircraft after checking with another kin based in Cyprus.

They said they feared the worst after hearing news about the plane crash because Irene's husband worked at Malaysia Airlines. The Gunawan family also travalled via Malaysia Airlines when they travel to the Philippines.

Irene was able to send a text message to a sister-in-law before their plane left Amsterdam.

Irene was worried about her relatives in the Philippines because of Typhoon Glenda and promised to send money and packages to them.

Her sister said Irene was very helpful.

The text message showed Irene saying goodbye.

"Never po siyang nag-bye. Ngayon lang po, sa text message niya. 'Bye,' tapos 'love you.' Madalang po siyang mag 'love you,'" her sister said.

"Siya po ang nagpapaaral sa anak ko. Ang sabi po, 'hintayin na lang iyung dating ko for enrollment of Kim," she added.

A brother, Celso Pabillon, said Irene was the breadwinner of her extended family in the Philippines.

"Lahat po ng mga tulong na pinansiyal, ultimo pag-aaral ng mga kapatid ko, siya ang sumasagot. Siya nga ang breadwinner namin," he said.

"Ang gusto lang po niyang mangyari, tulungan kami," he said.

"Gustong-gusto kong makita ang mga labi ng aking kapamilya doon [sa Ukraine]," he added. "Kaya lang, parang napakalabo noon."

"Kami ay nananalangin na lang, (subalit) sa ibinigay ng tadhana ay wala na kaming magagawa," Celso said.

Irene's relatives are seeking help to bring home the remains of the Gunawan family.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday named Irene and her two children as among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight crash in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

The three Filipinos were among 298 aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

SHOT DOWN BY MISSILE

The Boeing 777 plane is suspected to have been downed by a surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.

DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said the family was based in The Netherlands.

"Based on their passport records with us, the address given was in The Netherlands. We are not sure whether they'll be travelling from The Netherlands to KL as their final destination or transiting going somewhere. We don't have that information," Jose said.

He assured that the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is in close coordination with the Malaysia Airlines head office.

Likewise, Jose said that the embassy and the DFA are both ready to provide assistance to the victims' families.

"Our embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the DFA are both prepared to extend all the necessary assistance to the families of the three victims, starting first of all, if the next-of-kin would like to visit wherever the remains would be taken and our embassy will help in facilitating their visit. And if the family would like to repatriate the remains back to the Philippines, our embassy will also assist them," he said. - with a report from Dennis Datu, dzMM