Farewell Vicenta Flores

A New Journey has Begun

Life is so very often a difficult path to travel; the ground underfoot is rarely steady, the scenery can be unfamiliar and we constantly leave behind many unanswered questions. Last night I published a slightly different version of the following post on A Death in Hong Kong to mark the start of Vicenta Flores’ final journey to her native Philippines. Vicenta – a Filipino domestic helper in my community of Discovery Bay, Hong Kong – disappeared under mysterious circumstances on 7 April, and her body was found only four days later.

Goodbye and God Bless

As the service beganFamily, friends, supporters and Discovery Bay residents gathered today, 18 May, to pay their final respects to Vicky Flores before the repatriation of her remains to the Philippines. In a service held at the Universal Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom, Kowloon, prayers were offered, eulogies were given and tears flowed in mourning for a woman who spent too little time on this Earth.

United in their grief, the group – like many others in Hong Kong – were still asking questions about Vicky’s disappearance and death, questions the local authorities have yet to answer, or even indicate they are fully capable of answering.

In preparation for her final journey home, Vicky’s casket had already been secured in a packing case, painfully emphasising the transience of life. Father Emil Lim performed the ceremony, beginning with a prayer for Vicky’s family members in the Philippines, and for the safety of the Filipino community here in Hong Kong.

Bible readings were given by Cora Carsola of the Philippine government’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and Sister Aida Casambre.

As the service continued Father Lim spoke of the mystery surrounding Vicky’s death, and emphasised that “there is still love; there is still hope”. He then broadened his message to speak about the circumstances that brought Vicky to Hong Kong, the conditions that force so many Filipinos and others in poor countries to leave their homelands.

“Let us pray”, he said, “for many more OFWs [overseas Filipino workers], not only those in Hong Kong but around the world, not only the Filipinos, but all nationalities, races and cultures, every single person who has suffered because of poverty, because of injustice . . . may you all be alleviated from this pain”.

Mourners during bible reading by Cora CarsolaThe service ended with eulogies from Vicky’s family members living in Hong Kong, her sister Irene and others. As the mourners slowly began to file out of the small room, Irene’s sister-in-law Maricel sang unaccompanied, softly at first but with a voice that grew in strength and clarity.

Passing through the chorus of Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, she shifted almost seamlessly to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of ‘Lord I Offer My Life to You’.

Farewell Vicky Flores; those who remain will not rest until justice is done.

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