Manila, Philippines – The Filipino community in Chicago expressed their grief over the seven Filipino-American doctors and nurses who lost their lives on Saturday, a day before the Fiesta Señor, in Alegria town, Cebu.
In a message through Facebook messenger, Elaine Lehman, the executive director of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago, said the tragedy has left the Filipino community “in shock and bereaved.”
“The Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago extends our deepest condolences to the families and all those affected by this devastating incident,” Lehman’s message reads.
The victims, were known to be members of the Philippine Medical Association of Chicago (PMAC), who were in the Philippines for a medical mission.
The Filipino community, which also celebrated Fiesta Señor Monday (Philippine time) with a Sinulog event, “shared their grief upon hearing that members of the PMAC were in the accident.”
Last Saturday noon, seven medical doctors and nurses perished when the van they hired going to Kawasan Falls in Badian town, Cebu, rammed into a mahogany tree in Alegria town.
The fatalities were Aurora Gagni, Joseph Huang, Juvella Huang, Nunilo Rubio, Rey Pascual and Berniti Rojas, who died on the spot.
Diana Pascual died in Malabuyoc District Hospital.
The driver of the van, former seaman Gilbert Adlawan dela Cruz, suffered injuries, but he survived. He claimed he lacked sleep.
The passengers were to conduct a medical mission on Monday, January 22, in Camiguin Island.
The group arrived in Cebu on Saturday 3 a.m. and went to Oslob for whale shark watching then proceeded to Badian.
Three others were injured and admitted in a private hospital in Cebu City. They are Elenita Rubio, Leonor Tsai, and Fred Tsai.
They were residents of Chicago and New York.
Elenita, is the wife of Dr. Nunilo Rubio, who Lehman said, was once the president of PMAC.
In her message, Lehman said, the Philippine American Seniors Association of Chicago also expressed its gratitude to PMAC “for their programs dedicated to senior care and events in honor of our community’s seniors and veterans.
” They also honored the kind of leadership that Dr. Rubio had and his contribution to the Filipino community in Chicago.