MANILA - Leomer and Erika Joyce Lagradilla were a picture of a happy couple on their wedding day, sharing love and laughter with their friends and family just last month.
In a video of their special day on December 18, the couple and their guests could be seen dancing, getting emotional, and sharing hugs.
It is these same people who witnessed their union who are now mourning their death after they drowned over the weekend off the coast of an island in the Maldives where they were spending their honeymoon.
Leo Lagradilla, Leomer's father, still couldn't come to terms with how his eldest son and his wife were already gone, but he's trying.
"Anong nangyari, wala na? Anong nangyari sa anak ko at kay Erika? Mahirap tanggapin pero wala na kami magagawa. Tinatanong ko sila bakit, bakit kailangan mangyari? Sabi nila may plano si Lord para sa kanilang dalawa," he told ABS-CBN News.
(What happened? They're gone. What happened to my son and to Erika? It's hard to accept but there's nothing we can do. I am asking them why, why this had to happen? They said it's the Lord's plan for them.)
Details about the couple's death remain sketchy. Leomer reportedly drowned first, prompting his wife to call for help. When someone reached them, however, they were both "motionless, afloat on the surface of the water," a local news report said.
Both families, drawing strength among each other, are now also coordinating with the police who are investigating the incident. They are also awaiting feedback from the hotel where the couple had stayed.
The newlyweds were both nurses, based in Singapore and Riyadh, respectively.
Erika's father, Frederick Callado, remembers his 29-year-old daughter and Leomer as kind-hearted people who never let their families down.
"Hindi ako pinababayaan niyan. Lagi akong alagang-alaga niya... Wala akong masabi, pati kay Leomer, napakabait na bata," he told ABS-CBN News in an interview in the Callados' hometown Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
(She never neglected me. She always took good care of me. There's nothing I could say, even of Leomer, he was very kind.)
The Lagradillas are from nearby Lumban town.
Gloria Callado, Erika's mother who celebrated her birthday just 2 days before the devastating news came, had wished for grandchildren when the couple married.
Now, she simply wishes for the remains of her daughter and son-in-law to be brought home.
Friends and family initially sought to raise some P1.2 million to bring home their remains, but the Department of Foreign Affairs has since said it would shoulder the expenses in the repatriation of the couple's bodies.
While the fundraising campaign has been closed, both families thanked those who helped with the donations, saying the money would still be of much help.
- reports from Paulo Ferrer and Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News