First US trip of Pinoy family leads to tragedy
By MARIA ALETA NIEVA
The Dela Rosa family was looking forward to a memorable vacation abroad. They never imagined that tragedy would come their way on their very first trip to the US.
Jose Ricardo, his wife Carmichelle and children Jose Gabriel "Gjay" and Alexa Marie were supposed to spend a month-long vacation in the US—a trip they had planned since last year to serve as a surprise gift to their two kids.
Shortly after their arrival on April 3, the unexpected event happened that claimed the life of their seven-year-old son.
"Little did we know that what would welcome this loving family would be a tragic fate," said Raffy Dela Rosa in a blogsite he created for his brother’s family.
Instead of sightseeing, the family is spending time at the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena recuperating from physical wounds and emotional grief brought by the untimely death of their son due to a road mishap.
"Our family is still stunned with the news of Gjay's passing. Just a week ago, we were all together for a family gathering. Then, a week after, he is gone," said Gjay’s uncle lifted from his blogsite.
The accident was carried by local television and online news providers in California.
Reports said that the accident occurred on April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Pasadena when Gjay and his parents were hit by a car while waiting at the sidewalk to cross the Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.
The car first collided with another vehicle, jumped a curb and hit Gjay and his parents, reports added.
Four days after the accident, Gjay passed away while his father remained in serious condition. Gjay’s mother was also slightly hurt in the accident.
Messages of love and support for the family from relatives and friends as well as sympathy from unknown readers--here and abroad--who were deeply saddened and affected by the news were also posted in the blogsite.
"We are just overwhelmed with the support given by both family members, friends and most especially the many unknown readers and supporters who have shared with us the pain of losing our beloved Gjay. May we keep on praying for Angel Gabriel and the speedy recovery of Jose Ricardo," stated a message in the blogsite as a gesture of the family’s appreciation for all the encouraging messages they have received from people who extended their support and love through prayers and kind thoughts.
The La Salle community in the Philippines and Northern California also offered their prayers for Gjay who recently completed grade 1 at La Salle Greenhills in San Juan.
Even a pediatric staff at the Huntington Memorial Hospital, where the family had been taken for treatment, left a message on the blogsite.
It stated: "I was one of Gjay's nurses at Huntington Memorial Hospital. It was an honor to have taken care of a handsome boy surrounded by such a loving family. He became special to me, the doctors and the rest of the pediatric staff real quick. He will always have a special place in our hearts. We are praying for you both."
The death of Gjay has drawn many people whom some they never had a chance to meet personally, closer to the family. Some people sent anonymous messages of sympathy and condolences, sharing the family’s pain in losing their child.
"I want to express my deepest and sincere condolences to the Dela Rosa family. I can't even begin to imagine what Gjay's parents are going through! May Gjay rest in peace and may God bless the Dela Rosa family."
Another said: "I learned about this from a friend. I'd like to send you my condolences and prayers at this trying time. May he rest in peace. As a mother of a 7-year-old, I can't help but look at my son and cry. I'm not sure how I will survive without him."
"Please know that I am saddened by the tragic passing of Gjay and share in your grief. May God grant you patience and comfort in this difficult time and may the Lord illuminate Gjay's soul and rest it amongst the angels in Heaven."
Support and prayers continue to pour in from relatives of both sides of the family, as well as friends and concerned people.
Days after the accident, Pasadena residents contacted the hospital to ask the staff on how they can help the family, wire reports stated, which is also posted on the blogsite.
Aid fund established
The report quoted Andrea Stradling of Huntington Memorial Hospital as stating, "Never before have we had this much response from people calling and wanting to send flowers or to help."
Those who wish to contribute to the Jose Gabriel Dela Rosa Fund may send their donations to Comerica Bank, 35 N. Lake Avenue, Suite 120, Pasadena, CA 91101 or call the bank representative Yong M. Wong (626) 356-0549. They may also donate online through Paypal transactions.
In the Philippines, a local account has been temporarily used for donations. Potential donors are requested to get in touch with representatives of the family to send in their donations through BDO. The contact numbers of the family’s representatives can be found in the blogsite.
Others have also exerted their own efforts to help the family in every little way they can.
"Please accept my condolences and in behalf of the IPA (I Play Airsoft) fraternity, our thoughts will be with Gjay on April 20th, when we will hold a special fundraising event in his memory. May the good Lord watch over you, son," the message said.
In a recent entry by Gjay’s uncle, he announced that a memorial and necrological service was held at St. Andrews Church located at Fair Oaks, Pasadena on April 15, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.
Cherish each moment
"After lots of tears from knowing Gjay’s gone, I am still shaking up until today. I can't just imagine the feeling that my brother Jose Ricardo and Chi and niece Alexa is going thru," he said.
He said one of the reasons is because his nephew was still too young and relatives from both sides of the family have so many plans for the future of Gjay and his sister Alexa Marie.
"All of a sudden now, we have one less kid to think of and share happy moments with. Of course, we will still have those moments with our precious Alexa as well but it would have been better seeing the siblings having their fun and teasing moments. In as much as we want to tell ourselves that we will be ok and get through this fact is, it won't be ok and it won't be the same. We will just have to deal with it day by day and have that understanding for GOD for doing such a thing," he said.
"Definitely for now, we will cherish each moment we have with our family members and would suggest the same to all. Such is the mystery of life that we are uncertain of the things to come our way," he said.