CABA, La Union: Wilted wreaths stood outside the Nucos family home in the quiet seaside town of Caba, as friends and family gathered to quietly mourn the death of Lucky Plaza crash victim Arlyn Picar Nucos.
One of the six victims involved in an accident at Lucky Plaza last December, Ms Nucos was laid to rest on Sunday (Jan 19) at her hometown in the province of La Union, Philippines.
The car crash at Lucky Plaza also claimed the life of Ms Abigail Leste, and injured four others - including Ms Nucos' older sister Arceli. All of the victims were Filipinos living and working in Singapore.
Ms Nucos’ body was repatriated to the Philippines on Jan 2, with a wake held for her spanning over two weeks.
Speaking to CNA, Ms Nucos’ youngest sister Alice said the family were still coming to terms with her death.
“We have been mourning for three weeks and we’re still coping with ... the death of our sister,” she said.
Describing her sister as “jolly” and “friendly”, Ms Alice, a schoolteacher, said the two shared a close relationship.
“Every time I had a problem, she was the person I would lean on. She helped us with any problem,” said Ms Alice.
“When she’s here, we would talk even at night time, non-stop. She’s full of stories.”
According to Ms Nucos’ older brother Reynaldo, Ms Arceli is currently recovering in hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation.
The family hope to be able to visit her soon and said that she will return to the Philippines after she is discharged.
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She has no plans to continue working in Singapore.
Shortly after 8am, friends and family paid their final respects, before Ms Nucos’ casket was loaded into a hearse. More than 60 friends and family members trailed the hearse, some wearing white T-shirts bearing images of Ms Nucos.
As curious onlookers filmed the spectacle, Ms Alice and her brother Reynaldo, 53, held on wordlessly to the back of the hearse.
“We grew up in a poor family. My mother was just a worker, and my father was a fisherman and farmer,” Ms Alice said. “When my father managed to get fish, my mother would sell it to earn money.
“My two sisters didn’t finish their college. My sister Arlyn was a high school graduate and my sister Arceli did two years in college.
“They stopped because of poverty and they wanted to help our parents earn money.”
The remittances from Arceli, Arlyn and their brother Reynaldo had helped to pay for the family home, for medication for their late father as well as for Ms Alice’s college fees.
Churchgoers packed the local church to pay their respects to Ms Nucos, as her casket was placed in the centre of the sanctuary.
After a short service was held, attendees laid flowers on her casket, many choking back tears as they embraced Ms Nucos’ family members.
Ms Nucos was later laid to rest at a nearby cemetery.
The Nucos family has been assisted by a number of organisations including the Centre for Domestic Employees in Singapore and the Overseas Workers Welfare Association in the Philippines.
But the future still seems uncertain.
“It affects us so much because she’s the one helping us. Now that she’s gone, it makes us worry for our future,” said Ms Alice.
“But of course, with God’s help, she will help us in a way, even though she’s gone now.”