iSagada Killed in Afghanistan

Our condolences to the family of Zennia Aguilan especially to Ma’am Herminia. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
From GmaNews.TV: Relatives and friends describe 31-year-old Zennia P. Aguilan as daring, adventurous, kind-hearted, and bright. With this attitude, Zennia left her hometown in Sagada, Mountain Province after completing a course on physical therapy in 2004 to work in Taiwan.

Two years later, she moved to Dubai, then to Afghanistan in July last year.

Little did she know that her adventure in Kabul would end her life. Zennia passed away on Tuesday after sustaining serious injuries from explosions when suicide bombers attacked Monday night the only five-star Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital where she worked as a spa supervisor.

Wire reports said at least eight other persons died in the attack.

Shirley Lebeng, Zennia’s cousin residing in Baguio City, described her as modest and a very bright child since her elementary days at the Anglican-run St. Mary’s School in Sagada. “She was good and kind-hearted.”

Lebeng said Zennia’s employer, a European who owns Spa Resources International at the Serena Hotel, telephoned the OFW’s mother and assured her of the repatriation of Zennia’s remains as soon as possible.

Herminia Aguilan, Zennia’s mother, is a retired school teacher in Sagada. She appealed to authorities to help bring her body home soon.

Zennia, who took up a course on physical therapy in Dagupan, had a one-year contract for a monthly salary of US$700 with the European-owned spa that employed her last August, shortly after she arrived in Kabul from Dubai to look for a job.

“She was very adventurous and daring,” her cousin said.

Claro Cristobal, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the Philippine embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan has dispatched Consul General Agnes Cervantes to Kabul to facilitate the repatriation of Zennia’s remains to Manila.

The Philippines does not have a diplomatic post in Afghanistan. Pakistan is the nearest Philippine post that can assist in bringing home Zennia’s body.

Cristobal reiterated that there is a total ban in the deployment of Filipinos to Afghanistan because of the unstable security condition there.

The government keeps a similar ban to Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria.

The ban in Afghanistan was implemented on Dec. 17, 2007. Prior to that, Afghanistan was considered a “critical” area where deployment of Filipinos required clearance from the DFA.

Arriving in Afghanistan prior to the imposition of the total ban and having paid her dues with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Isaac Anthony Basil, OWWA’s chief of the security and protection department, assured that Zennia’s family would be entitled to P220,00 insurance and burial benefits from the government agency.

OWWA administrator Marianito Roque said Wednesday morning that Zennia’s remains may be repatriated to Manila in two weeks.

Basil assured that both the OFW insurance assistance and repatriation benefits were already endorsed by the OWWA-CAR to the Manila office for immediate processing. “We hope for the immediate release of the insurance assistance to at least cushion the impact of the tragedy to the family,” Basil said.

The OWWA officer noted that Zennia’s death was the first fatal incident involving an OFW from the Cordillera. He said it should serve as a warning to prospective overseas workers planning to work in Afghanistan to reconsider their options.

With the incident, he said the government has more reason to strictly observe the deployment ban to that country in Central Asia.

Lebeng said Zennia has relatives working in the United States, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. This has been the biggest blow to hit the family involving a relative working overseas, she said.

Read related story at the Inquirer.


4 thoughts on “iSagada Killed in Afghanistan”

  1. Condolences to the Aguilan family. I know members of the Aguilan family – Cecile and Binky. It is tragic indeed and we pray that the family remain strong as we try to support them through prayers.

  2. my friend that knows her felt tragic after hearing about the news. condolences to the victim’s family. i hope that i would be able to attend her funeral in sagada.

  3. I worked with Zennia at the Kabul Serena Hotel. Even today, many years later, I still think of her fondly. She sacrificed her life to be in a dangerous place to help others. God bless Zennia. Let’s not forget to remember her from time to time.

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