Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

School to pay for surgery for mother of drowned teacher

Principal pledges financial support for family of Jaquelyn Alferez, one of three UAE teachers who died in a ferry tragedy

Jaquelyn Alferez was "loved" by her pupils, her school's principal said
Jaquelyn Alferez was "loved" by her pupils, her school's principal said

An Al Ain school is planning to pay for the medical treatment of the elderly mother of a teacher who died in a Philippines ferry tragedy.

Jaquelyn Alferez was one of three UAE-based teachers who died when a passenger boat capsized during a summer break in her home country last week.

She was among a group of eight teachers with links to the Al Ittihad National Private School in Al Ain who had decided to get together for a holiday to the island of Boracay when disaster struck.

Ms Alferez left Al Attihad for a job at Future International Academy school in Al Ain a year ago, and had been saving up money for an eye operation for her mother, said Shatha Al Ghazali, the school’s principal.

Since her death, the school has said it will make sure the operation is carried out by offering financial support to the family.

“One of our teachers told me about how she was saving up for her mother’s eye operation,” Ms Al Ghazali said.

“When I heard that she was helping her mum by saving some money I decided that we would collect donations, so it will continue even after her death.

"Her sister is in contact with us and we have already transferred an amount of money and are planning to send more.

“We still don’t have all the details [of the operation] but we want to help. I want to find out how much she was sending them, so that will continue as if she was here.”

Initial funds will help pay for the transfer of Ms Alferez’s body back to her home city of Manila and further enquiries are being made regarding what is needed to help her mother.

The other UAE-based teachers who passed away were Andrew Valenzuela, 39, and Eden Perales, 37, who were both current staff members at Al Ittihad.

The ferry capsized on a journey between Guimaras and Iloilo on Saturday last week. Philippine media reported six officials working for the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority have been “immediately relieved from their posts” while an investigation into the tragedy is carried out.

It is believed at least 31 people died in the tragedy, although some authorities have put the death toll at 28.

One of the UAE teachers who survived, Mark Angelo Subaldo, has said the coastguard declared the route safe just minutes before the ferry was blown over. Two other ferries on the same route had capsized around three hours earlier.

Officials responsible will face criminal charges if they are found to have acted negligently, Arthur Tugade, the Filipino transport secretary, has said.

On Wednesday Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, visited Iloilo City and Guimaras to pay tribute to the victims and meet with grieving relatives.

Ms Alferez, 38, taught English in the third grade at Future International Academy and listed her hobbies as listening to music and sketching.

She had worked in the UAE since 2010. Ms Al Ghazali is now planning how to best break the news to her young pupils.

“Everyone loves her and it will be very sad when they come back from the holidays,” Ms Al Ghazali said. “She was a very calm person, very helpful, she was lovely. The children all loved her, everyone loved her.

“We are planning to have a minute’s silence at morning assembly but first of all I will approach the parents and explain to them what has happened.

"For the upper grade levels this might be easier to understand, but for the little ones, it is different and the parents might have to prepare them.”

Updated: August 10, 2019 01:58 PM