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Jennifer Laude, symbol of 'oppressed' nation, laid to rest

Slain transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude was laid to rest Friday afternoon, October 24, in a solemn Catholic burial ceremony attended by a diverse group of over 200 family members, friends and supporters.

Her tragic death – medically found to be caused by drowning – prompted calls to revisit a military deal called the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US).

Laude died on October 12 minutes after she met with US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo disco bar Ambyanz.

The disputed bilateral agreement allows the conduct of US military drills on Philippine soil. One of these drills brought Pemberton to the country.

Laude's interment rites were presided over by Monsignor Crisostomo Cacho. Mass was held at the St Columban Parish in the northern part of the city a quarter before 2 pm. 

Attending the Mass, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello referred to Jennifer as "simbolo ng bansang inaapi (symbol of an oppressed nation)." 

MASS. German national Marc Sueselbeck, fiancé of slain transgender woman Jennifer Launde, walks to the St Columnan Parish to hear mass of her the love of his life. Photo by George Moya/Rappler

Laude's German fiancé Marc Sueselbeck, mother Julita, stepfather Franco Cabillan, sisters Michelle and Marilou led the funeral procession. The family's counsel, human rights lawyer Harry Roque, stayed with the family from the funeral parlor to the cemetery.

Marilou Laude delivered a message of thanks for the palpable outpouring of love and support on the heels of Jennifer's death.

Unable to suppress her tears, she thanked Jennifer for the beautiful things she brought to the world.

"Kung saan ka man naroroon ngayon, sana masaya ka at sana kasama mo na si Papa," she said. (Wherever you are right now, I hope you are happy and I hope you are with our father.)

Jennifer's father died when she was around 3 years old. Since then, her mother had lived with partner Franco Cabillan. 

Photos by Jose Del, Randy Datu, George Moya, and Buena Bernal –Rappler.com