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Pinay who died of heart attack flown home

19 February 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Friends and relatives bid Avancena goodbye in Hong Kong

The remains of a Filipina who died of a heart attack on Feb 2 shortly after collapsing in her employer’s flat in Mid-Levels, have been flown to her hometown in Negros Occidental, where she will be laid to rest.

The casket bearing Donna M. Avanceña’s body arrived in Bacolod City on Friday afternoon, Feb 15, her friend Ann Apita told the SUN. The interment date has yet to be announced.

The coroner listed the cause of death as cardiac arrest.

Avanceña’s body was accompanied on the Hong Kong to Manila leg of the voyage by her elder sister Ligaya, also a domestic worker here. The sisters hail from Cadiz City, which is adjacent to Bacolod.

Danny Baldon, officer of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, said the employer paid for the repatriation.

A day before the flight, Avanceña’s friends and relatives gathered at Universal Funeral Parlor in Hung Hom to bid her farewell.

Avanceña, a breast cancer survivor who should be turning 56 on Feb 26, was rushed to Ruttonjee Hospital on an ambulance at dawn on Feb 2 after collapsing twice in her employer’s home. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Her friends said doctors who examined Avanceña told them that she suffered a heart attack when she fell off the lower deck of a double-deck bunk bed before 1am on Feb 2. She suffered another heart attack when she collapsed in the toilet about 20 minutes later.

Eleanor Javier, who along with Avanceña and her niece Aida Ajihil worked for a 99-year-old employer on Kennedy Road, was emotional as she recounted the final moments of the deceased, her co-worker for the past 23 years and 10 months.

Javier, who is in her 60s, said she has been with their employer for 30 years while Avanceña arrived in the household in 1995. Javier said they were “closer than sisters” and were happy as their employers treated them like family.

Avanceña never complained of having a heart problem, nor did she tell Javier or other friends of any health issues.

“Ang sabi lang niya sa akin, masakit daw ang likod niya. Sabi ko naman, ‘Magpatingin ka baka kung ano iyon’. Sabi niya, ‘Wala, OK lang, bukas wala na ito’,” Javier said.

Her niece Ajihil said she did not remember Avanceña going for a check-up since she joined them three years ago.

“Hindi siya nagsasalita. Hindi nga namin alam kung high blood siya o ano dahil hindi siya nagpapa-check-up ever since,” Ajihil said.

Javier, who was every emotional as she stood by the coffin of Avanceña, said the only time the deceased had a serious health crisis was when she had Stage 3 breast cancer 11 years ago. She underwent surgery and shunned chemotherapy but survived.

Avanceña appeared strong when she spent her holiday at Tamar Park on Feb 1 but told a friend on the bus ride back to the flat that she felt cold, and complained of pain in her belly.

But on returning to her employer’s flat she told Javier that she was ok. Not long after they had gone to sleep,  Javier was awakened by the sound of somebody crashing to the floor and realized that Avanceña had fallen from her bed.

Javier asked what happened and Avanceña said her belly was aching but refused to be taken to the hospital, saying she would just sleep the pain away.

About 20 minutes later, Avanceña tried to get up for water but Javier, who slept on the upper deck, told her she would get it for her. 

Avanceña then said she wanted to use the toilet, so, Javier helped her. But before they could reach the bowl, Avanceña collapsed again and could not keep her tongue from sticking out. That was the time she agreed to go to the hospital and the ambulance was called.    
Ligaya said Avanceña, the fifth among five ale and five female siblings, was married with a 14-year-old daughter. Her husband is jobless.

Her family will receive a PhP100,000 death benefit and PhP20,000 funeral assistance by OWWA, plus a livelihood assistance of PhP15,000 for the husband. Her daughter will be granted a monthly high school stipend and college scholarship.

The employer also agreed to pay a long service award of $73,000 to Avanceña.

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