Tragedy for Filipino missionaries in Cebu City

WILLOWBROOK, IL —  90-year old Doctor Batting and his wife Dionesia are still in shock after learning about their relatives, friends, and colleagues who were supposed to go on their annual medical mission in the Philippines, were in a deadly car accident last Saturday.

On January 20th, 24-year old Gilbert Dela Cruz, reportedly fell asleep as he was driving a van with ten passengers. The passengers were doctors and nurses, who were on their way to Badian town in Cebu when their vehicle smashed into a mahogany tree in Alegria.

Five of the ten passengers are from Illinois.

Six died on the spot, and one passed away at a hospital. Three people remain injured and are at Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City.

The driver survived with minor bruises and cuts.

86-year old Dionesia Battung had to break the news to everyone in Illinois.

“I was stunned. I would like to cry to express my sadness but I can’t. It will be a big miss and I cannot even straighten out my prayers. Thinking about what happened and how it happened.”

Dela Cruz is now held at the Alegria Police Station and reports say, reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and serious physical injuries will be charged against him.

Dr Battung says he is crying and praying at the same time. Dr Nunilo Rubio, one of the victims, is one of his best friends.

“It made me cry right away. Coz he’s like my brother. He always asks me to talk to my wife; to advice my wife because they were so close. I’m the godfather of his son in their wedding. And he’s the godfather of my son. The only thing I can say is have a good prayer for all of them who are still alive and recovering and for those who left us, maybe they will pray for us here.”

The seven bodies were brought to the St. Peter’s Memorial Chapel in Barangay Imus, Cebu City. Meanwhile, their families in Illinois are in transit, with direct flights to Cebu, to pick up their loved ones.

The annual medical mission in Camiguin island in Mindanao that was originally scheduled on Monday was postponed. Memorial services in Illinois will be announced shortly.

“The medical group of Illinois, comprised mostly of our kababayans, had a lot of plans this year. Unfortunately, the incident that happened in the Philippines affected not only their group, but the whole Filipino community as well.”

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