DOLE assures aid to kin of 2 OFWs killed in UAE restaurant blast

MANILA – The government has assured financial assistance and other benefits to the families of the two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were killed in a gas explosion at a restaurant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the families of the victims, Clark Bacud Gasis and Merriner Goc-ong Bertoces, will each receive PHP120,000 bereavement assistance.

“They will also get insurance benefits if they are qualified members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” he said.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Abu Dhabi reported that a total of 10 Filipinos, including two children, figured in the explosion reportedly caused by a gas leak inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant along Airport Road on August 31.

The explosion instantly killed Gasis, 39, an electrical draftsman from Surigao del Sur, and Bertoces, 26, an employee at the restaurant, from Negros Oriental.

Also, Bello added that OWWA would be ready to provide additional aid allowed by law to the families of the victims.

“We will extend to them all the support the government can provide,” he said.

The blast also injured eight other Filipinos. Six of them were immediately taken to the Sheik Khalifa Medical Center (SKMC) for treatment.

Five of the injured have already been discharged while the other one identified as Rodel Paclibar, also a KFC-Abu Dhabi staff member, remains at the hospital for further observation.

A total of 28 persons including other nationals were involved in the deadly blast, reports said.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) urged the people to continue to pray for all OFWs.

“We just honor our living heroes last August 31, they are our OFWs and the Medical front liners. Now we lost two OFWs in line of their works. We see the difficulties and dangers they are into and daily undergoing. So, the more we have to pray for them, appreciate their sacrifices and services, to protect themselves,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the CBCP-ECMI in a statement.

At the same time, he offered prayers for the victims and their families.

“We, at CBCP-ECMI, commend their souls to God’s mercy and we are praying for strength of their families to hold on to God and rise up from this tragic event,” the Catholic prelate added.

Santos also lauded Filipino officials in the host country for the help extended to the victims and their families.

“We are also grateful for help and assistance rendered by our Philippine embassy officials to our two OFWs and their families. Let us always pray for our OFWs and do always what is best for them,” he said. (PNA)

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#HausGoldenGays: Helping the seniors of the drag community during the quarantine – Preen.ph

“Siguro isa yun sa mga character ng pagiging gay. Kasi nga being gay, halos in general, survivalist eh,” is what Ramon Busa of The Golden Gays told Preen.ph in a when asked about how their group of elderly drag queens remains in good spirits despite facing hardships. 

The Home for the Golden Gays was a care facility serving the seniors of the gay community without homes and was established in Pasay during the mid-1970s by LGBT rights activist and columnist Justo Justo. Since the founder’s passing in 2012, many of its members have been living separately in multiple transient shelters. Under the enhanced community quarantine, they are unable to turn to performing in drag or their other jobs—working as a beautician, vendor, street sweeper or trader—for a source of income. Moreover, drag is more than just a job for the Golden Gays. Rey Ravago told us, “Nakakaangat siya ng aura ng isang lola at the same time pag rumarampa na kami, naeenergize kami. Parang buhay na buhay ang aming dugo.”

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, our lolas are at higher risk due to their old age and lack of income. #HausGoldenGays is a fundraising campaign hosted by Preen.ph for the benefit of The Golden Gays. The donations collected from the drive will be used to help provide for home accommodation, utilities, food, medicine and other supplies needed by the group during the quarantine. One of the lolas, Federico de los Santos Ramasamy aka Lola Rikka, passed away and on Sunday was cremated. Proceeds will also be used to cover expenses related to his passing.

Let’s give back to our elderly drag queens who have served as inspirations and advocates for the Filipino LGBTQ+ community. You may send in your donations through GCASH at 0965 8544 619 or Paymaya at 0916 596 5455.

Let’s help our elderly queens stay golden! 

Photos courtesy of Jack Alindahao

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