Serendra unit 501 occupant dies

Natashya Gutierrez
Angelito San Juan, 63, came here to attend a wedding. He dies 5 weeks after the May 31 blast at Two Serendra.

SERENDRA VICTIM. Angelito San Juan dies almost 5 weeks since the Two Serendra blast, from complication sustained from the explosion. Photo from

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – He came here to attend a wedding and rented Unit 501 of Two Serendra, owned by a friend. Five weeks after the blast that damaged the unit, Angelito San Juan died Thursday at 12:20 am in St. Luke’s, Taguig.

San Juan was 63, married with two children.

Based in the United States, he was one of the 4 injured in the May 31 blast at Serendra that killed 3 other men, all outsourced employees of Abenson.

It’s been days of blood transfusion and intensive care for San Juan, according to his lawyer Raymund Fortun. While the specific cause of his death was not immediately known, it “may be due to multiple complications.”

San Juan, who suffered burns on 89% of his body from the blast, had to undergo daily dialysis because of weak kidneys. His doctors could not remove the poison that his body sustained from the explosion, Fortun said.

San Juan also suffered from erratic heart beat and his breathing never normalized.

Fortun told Rappler doctors could not perform any operation on him because of the stress it might cause. Because of this, doctors “couldn’t find what was wrong internally.”

San Juan had been placed under critical condition about 10 days ago and have been incubated since the explosion.

He had arrived on May 31, the day of the blast, and had borrowed Unit 501 for 9 days, from a friend. He was reportedly on his way out for dinner when the fatal explosion happened.

While the burns had been healing well and the family remained hopeful, he said “indicators [showed San Juan] was not coping well,” Fortun said.

San Juan had earlier complained of feeling suffocated in the apartment. Initially, investigators were interested in interviewing San Juan to know the circumstances surrounding the explosion, but he was ultimately declared to have acted normally before the blast.

The explosion was later determined to be caused by a gas leak, although the government does not yet know the source of the leak.

Ayala Land Inc (ALI), the developer of Two Serendra, said in a statement: “We are saddened by the demise of Mr. Angelito San Juan and we extend our deepest sympathies and  condolences to his family.”

WHERE HE STAYED. Unit 501, Two Serendra

Where is Ayala?

Fortun said ALI has been paying for the hospital bills but has not once reached out to San Juan or the family to check on his condition.

“Ayala has never gotten in touch with us from Day 1. When he was rushed to the hospital, we learned more or less Ayala would pay the bill because they were never sent to us,” he said.

Unlike in the case of the families of the 3 other victims, Fortun said no Ayala representatives have visited San Juan in the hospital nor talked to his family.

According to Fortun, San Juan’s family has yet to decide on whether to bury him here or in the US. He said the family also does not yet know whether they will file any charges.

San Juan’s brother Ruben took care of him in the hospital, as well as relatives of Marianne Cayton-Castillo, the unit owner who is also based in California.

Castillo’s aunt and San Juan’s friend, Herminia Ochoa, also attended to him in the hospital. It was Ochoa who had invited San Juan to stay in her niece’s apartment, and was the last person San Juan talked to before the explosion.

READ: Serendra revisited: More questions

The families of the two who died in the blast have accepted the settlement offer made by Ayala. But the family of Abenson driver Jeffrey Umali has so far refused, saying what ALI is offering is not sufficient compared to the loss suffered by their family.

READ: Ayala offer not enough

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in response to San Juan’s death, assured his family the investigation will be “thorough and conclusive.”

He said the government has been transparent in its probe, and have hired foreign experts to help with the investigation.

“It’s clearly a gas explosion. The question is, where did the system fail? Was the design wrong? Were there defects in the sensors and automatic shut off valve? Did someone tamper with the installation inside the unit? We cannot tell, so we hired an expert,” Roxas said.

As public interest slowly wanes — and with it, liability — the source of the leak still remains a mystery. No official updates since the June 7 press conference have likewise been made.-

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