Stranded worker dies while waiting for bus ride home to Bicol

Rappler.com
Stranded worker dies while waiting for bus ride home to Bicol
Single mother Michelle Silvertino stayed in a footbridge in Pasay City for several days, waiting for a bus ride to Camarines Sur

MANILA, Philippines – Michelle Silvertino just wanted to go home to her family in Calabanga, Camarines Sur. 

But on Friday, June 5, she was found unconscious at a footbridge in Pasay City. 

Pasay City police said in a report that a concerned citizen went to the station on June 5 to report that they found Silvertino at a footbridge along EDSA at 4:30 am, and that she had a  high fever and had difficulty breathing.

The police were told that the incident had been reported to Barangay 159 “but the barangay officials ignored them.” Police went to the site and saw Silvertino unconscious. She was brought to the Pasay General Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Silvertino was subjected to a swab test to check if she had the coronavirus disease, the police report said.

Nathanael Alim Alviso, a field recruitment officer who was also Silvertino’s friend and had constant communication with her, said since her family was not immediately informed about her death, the Pasay city government placed her body in a cadaver bag and buried her in a shallow grave.

Stay in Manila

Alviso shared the story behind Silvertino’s experience in Manila in a Facebook post. He said she traveled to Manila in September 2019 as she planned to work as a domestic helper abroad. 

Like many aspiring overseas Filipino workers, she had big dreams of sustaining her family’s needs and her children’s education. 

“May pangarap siyang mapaaral ang mga anak [niya] kaya nagbalak mag-abroad (She had dreams of sustaining her children’s education so she decided to apply for work abroad),” Alviso said in an interview via Messenger.

The 33-year-old single mother left behind 4 children aged 3 to 11, who were left under the care of her parents and her siblings while she was in Metro Manila.

Silvertino, however, never got to leave as she kept failing her medical examinations after being diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. This prolonged her stay in Metro Manila.

In order to pay her bills and other expenses, Silvertino applied as a house helper in Antipolo, Rizal, where she stayed for 3 months during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The plight home-bound

When Metro Manila eased quarantine measures on June 1, she thought she could go home. (READ: Planning to leave your province or the metro under GCQ? What you should know

Alviso said that Silvertino had saved P6,000 from her work as a house helper, and went to the Cubao bus terminal with the help of her employer. After discovering that the bus terminals were closed, she headed to the bus terminal in Pasay City – a 3-hour walk – thinking she could catch a bus ride there. 

Since the bus terminal was also closed, she decided to stay at the footbridge for the meantime. Alviso said Pasay City City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) street clearing operatives had asked her to leave the footbridge but they allowed her to stay after learning that she was a stranded worker. 

In an interview with Brigada News FM Jhimbo Mojica, one of the street clearing operatives, said” “Hindi naman po siya ni-rescue, Sir. Iniwanan lang naman po siya (She was not rescued, Sir. She was just left there).”

She died 5 days later. 

In coordination with Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado, the municipal government of Calabanga and other private individuals have offered to help the family exhume and cremate  Silvertino’s remains, which has to go through a legal process.

Her family was also given financial aid and a scholarship was also granted to Silvertino’s eldest child.

“Despite government’s failures, private citizens rushed in to help, visited the children, and attempt to bring home the body,” Alviso said. with reports from Abby Bilan/Rappler.com