Trainers' families join climbers

Trainers Valerian Joannes (left), 27, and Ricky Masirin, 28, died while guiding the pupils of TKPS on Mount Kinabalu during the earthquake last year.
Trainers Valerian Joannes (left), 27, and Ricky Masirin, 28, died while guiding the pupils of TKPS on Mount Kinabalu during the earthquake last year. PHOTO: MOUNTAIN TORQ

As 20 Singaporeans paid tribute to victims of the Sabah earthquake yesterday morning, family members of two trainers who died did the same on a platform near the Via Ferrata trail, where boulders fell during the disaster.

Trainers Valerian Joannes and Ricky Masirin had been guiding Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupils, who were on a school trip, on the trail last year when disaster struck.

To remember them, 12 of the trainers' family members observed a minute of silence at 7.15am - the same time that Singaporeans at Laban Rata and TKPS did so. That was the moment the earthquake had struck.

The group then said prayers and sang hymns before embarking on the Via Ferrata trail themselves.

Spraining her ankle four days before the family members' Mount Kinabalu climb did not stop nurse Jessica Veronica Sikta, 26, fiancee of the late Mr Joannes: "To be able to finish the Via Ferrata trail was a new hope for me."

Mr Joannes had planned to take her on the trail, where he worked, in November last year - it was on his bucket list.

While she could not go there with him, she feels blessed to have completed it with his family. But Ms Sikta believes that Mr Joannes and the other victims would not want their loved ones to wallow in sadness: "Life must go on, with all the memories that they made with us."

Mr Joannes' brother Vanleorant, 26, also made the climb last weekend to Laban Rata on Mount Kinabalu, where climbers rest before heading for the summit. He took the trip to remember his brother and the job he did.

For Ms Priscilla Justin, 28, girlfriend of the late Mr Masirin, climbing the mountain and completing the Via Ferrata where disaster struck brought a jumble of feelings: "I felt happy, blessed and sad."

But she has to "keep moving on", she said. "He's already passed away; I can't see him. What I can give him are only my prayers."

Said Ms Quek I-Gek, 43, marketing director of Mountain Torq, which manages the Via Ferrata trail: "One year on, we are glad that things are going back to normal.

"The fact that the Singaporean and Sabahan families can get together and do a tribute - it was a very emotional reunion."

Both sides had climbed Mount Kinabalu on Saturday, and rested at Laban Rata before hitting the summit early this morning.

"It shows everybody that boundaries don't mean anything, as long as we all have the heart and passion to go for our dreams," she said.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Trainers' families join climbers'. Print Edition | Subscribe