Leah Laylo had no idea her much needed US vacation with her son would end in tragic gun violence and his death.
On Tuesday, June 28, Mrs. Laylo, together with her nephew Miggy, boarded PAL flight PR-127 carrying 35-year-old John Albert Laylo's remains to the Philippines.
On June 18, the mother and son woke up early to get ready for a flight to Chicago, and even took a selfie before taking an Uber to a Philadelphia airport.
"He woke me up ng 3:40 am. 'Mama gising ka na! Halika na alis na tayo. O naka get up ka na? O sige, picture muna tayo, selfie.' Meron akong photo nun, selfie, last na pala yun," Leah shared.
(He woke up at 3:40am. He said 'Mama, wake up. Let’s go. You're up? Let’s take a selfie first.' I have that selfie photo, which became our last.)
But at the intersection of Spruce and South 38th, just five minutes into their Uber ride, a still-unknown suspect shot at their vehicle multiple times.
"Naka-stop yung car nung binaril kami... All I can remember, nag-shatter yung glass ng door, then nakita ko siya bigla na dumudugo. Dumapa na ako, yumuko ako, kasi I wanted to save myself, I was trying to pull him down. Buti na lang pala hindi kasi marami pang shots."
(The car was stopped when we were shot... All I can remember is the door's glass was shattered, then I saw him bleeding. I laid down and bowed my head because I wanted to save myself. I was trying to pull him down but there were more shots.)
Philadelphia police confirmed 15 shots were fired and a fatal one hit John Albert at the back of his head.
"I lost my son in 5 minutes," Leah said. "Wala kaming differences. Yun nga lang I wasn’t able to say 'I love you,' but I always say 'thank you.' Hindi ko siya na-hug. Yun lang ang regrets ko."
(We didn’t have differences. It’s just that I wasn’t able to say ‘I love you,’ but I always say ‘thank you.’ I wasn’t able to hug him. Those are my only regrets.)
The mother added that she will always cherish and remember nothing but the good things about her son.
"John Albert is a kind, loving, caring person. He’s smart; he loves family, loves his friends; he loves everyone."
The family also hopes to see new developments in the Philadelphia police's probe into the shooting in the next few days.
"Pinakagusto kong gawin, justice for him... All throughout this ordeal, sobrang sakit. Makikita mo yung family mo, gusto siyang hawakan, yakapin. Di nila magawa, so I’m trying to be strong for them," Leah noted.
(What I really want to achieve is justice for him… All throughout this ordeal, it really hurts. You will see your family wanting to hold and hug him. But they couldn’t, so I’m trying to be strong for them.)
Laylo's remains arrived in Manila on June 29, Wednesday, and would be brought to the Manila Memorial Park for viewing until Sunday. These will be cremated on the same day, and will be sent first to their family home before his final resting place at a columbarium in Makati.