Lucky Plaza accident: Maids pay respects at victims' wakes

Ms Ronalyn, a cousin of Ms Leste, conducting a video call with Ms Leste's daughter in the Philippines, who was unable to fly to Singapore for the wake. It was not just fellow maids who showed up at the victims' wakes. Moved by what he read in the new
Mourners gathering for prayers at the wake of Ms Arlyn Picar Nucos at Sin Ming Funeral Parlour on New Year’s Day. Many were in tears as they remembered the 50-year-old Filipino who was known to be friendly and helpful. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Ms Ronalyn, a cousin of Ms Leste, conducting a video call with Ms Leste's daughter in the Philippines, who was unable to fly to Singapore for the wake. It was not just fellow maids who showed up at the victims' wakes. Moved by what he read in the new
It was not just fellow maids who showed up at the victims’ wakes. Moved by what he read in the newspapers about the accident, Mr Thomas Tang, 77, who lives in Delta Avenue, paid his respects at the wake of Ms Abigail Danao Leste.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Ms Ronalyn, a cousin of Ms Leste, conducting a video call with Ms Leste's daughter in the Philippines, who was unable to fly to Singapore for the wake. It was not just fellow maids who showed up at the victims' wakes. Moved by what he read in the new
Ms Ronalyn, a cousin of Ms Leste, conducting a video call with Ms Leste's daughter in the Philippines, who was unable to fly to Singapore for the wake.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Friends recall victims fondly; daughter of one victim views mum's casket via video call

Filipino maid Arlyn Picar Nucos, who died in Sunday's Lucky Plaza accident, was a friend and a mentor to Ms Fe Alumbro, her co-worker in the same household.

Now, the only way Ms Alumbro, 44, can pay her back for her friendship and guidance is to help pack Ms Nucos' belongings and send them to her family in the Philippines.

Ms Nucos, 50, who had worked in Singapore for almost 30 years, was one of the six Filipino maids who were hit by a car while having a picnic outside Lucky Plaza on Sunday.

"She taught me everything - how to cook, how to look after the kids," said Ms Alumbro at Ms Nucos' wake in Sin Ming Drive yesterday.

When Ms Alumbro left the house on the day of the accident, Ms Nucos was preparing food for the picnic. "Now when I go home and she's not there, I feel very sad. It's just me left," she said.

A similar sense of loss could be felt at Geylang Bahru, where the wake of the other victim, Ms Abigail Danao Leste, 41, was being held.

Ms Leste's daughter, Ms Jackie Lyne Leste, 21, was unable to fly to Singapore to pay her respects in person and had to view her mother's casket via a video call with Ms Leste's cousin, who gave her name only as Ronalyn.

Ms Ronalyn later broke down and had to be consoled by fellow mourners. She declined to speak with the media.

Ms Leste's body is expected to be flown back to the Philippines today, while Ms Nucos' body was due to return home yesterday evening.

One of the six victims, Ms Laila Flores Laudencia, 44, was present at both of her friends' wakes.

The distraught domestic helper declined to be interviewed. She had a large bandage over one leg and appeared to need help walking.

Also present at both wakes was domestic helper Rem Camat, 38, who called Ms Nucos her "best friend".

 
 
 
 

The pair had known each other for 17 years and came from the same province in the Philippines.

Ms Camat recalled chatting with Ms Nucos daily when the two worked for neighbouring households in the Siglap area.

They would typically hang out together every public holiday, but on the day of the accident, Ms Camat had decided to go to a different gathering from the one that Ms Nucos attended.

She learnt about the accident only when someone told her about it over the phone.

"I couldn't believe all this happened. I couldn't even cry. You just lose a good friend, just like that. It was very shocking," said Ms Camat, choking up.

Another helper who would typically meet Ms Nucos at the spot where the accident took place was Ms Jobita Delmendo, 52.

She said Ms Nucos was friendly and would bring her food every Sunday when they met.

"She was more than a sister to me. Her favourite colour was yellow," she recalled, before tearing up.

She continued: "We'd always meet at this place (outside Lucky Plaza), no need to send SMS or call beforehand. But I won't be going there any more. I'm too traumatised."

It was not just friends who showed up at Ms Nucos' wake.

Aside from her employers, who declined to be interviewed, members of the Filipino community, such as domestic helper Lory Galura, 44, also came to give emotional and financial support to the grieving friends and relatives.

"For Filipinos, it's our tradition. Even if we don't have much, we give what we can," she said.

"We all work here in Singapore, which is not our country, so we treat one another as family. If anything goes wrong, we help one another."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Maids pay respects at victims' wakes'. Print Edition | Subscribe