Update on Zennia Aguilan

Mom rues loss of OFW daughter to insurgent attack in Kabul
By Frank Cimatu/Inquirer

Herminia’s sweet little girl is coming home but it is not the homecoming she wanted for her daughter. Zennia Aguilan, 31, a physical therapist, was killed with five other people on Monday when armed men stormed the Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Her 60-year-old mother, Herminia Aguilan, was not sure when her body would be brought home. “She’s short and very sweet,” said Herminia, a retired teacher at Saint Mary’s School in the tourist town of Sagada in Mt. Province.

“She called regularly and the last time was when she greeted me ‘Happy New Year,’” she said by telephone.

Zennia, the fifth of seven children, was still small when her father died.

Her only sister is the eldest and a nurse in the United States so Zennia was her mother’s little helper, said her aunt, Mary Padilan.

“She’s very loving especially with kids,” said her cousin Shirley Lebeng. “Zennia wanted to help her family and I don’t think she had a boyfriend. She always gave us gifts,” Lebeng said.

“My daughter is very thoughtful,” Herminia said.

Although originally from Agawa village in neighboring Besao town in Mt. Province, Zennia and her siblings had to stay in Sagada to be with their mother.
She finished high school at St. Mary’s School and went to college in Dagupan City where she took up physical therapy.

Sagada elders were talking with Herminia about possible rituals as they awaited the body.

Herminia said the last time she saw her daughter was in August 2007 when Zennia was about to leave for Kabul after a vacation in the country. “She told me to take care,” the mother recalled.

Lebeng said Zennia wanted to go back to Kabul. “She liked the job and she liked the pay,” Lebeng said. Zennia returned to Kabul in August, four months before the Department of Foreign Affairs imposed a travel ban to Afghanistan.

Zennia was reportedly paid US$700 a month as spa supervisor at Serena, one of Kabul’s popular luxury hotels.

On Monday night, Zennia sustained severe wounds when armed men believed to be Kabul insurgents threw grenades and fired AK-47 as they stormed the hotel. An American and a Norwegian journalist were among the six killed.

Zennia was taken to a military hospital in critical condition and died Tuesday afternoon. Both Lebeng and the elder Aguilan said they had no premonition of Zennia’s death.

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