Heartbroken parents of murdered Jastine say final goodbye to tragic student
More than 300 family members and friends of Jastine Valdez paid their respects to the murdered student at her funeral.
The 24-year-old was laid to rest in her native Philippines some 40 days after being abducted and murdered by Mark Hennessy.
Ms Valdez was abducted on May 21 near her home in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, leading to a significant Garda investigation being launched.
Hennessy was located and shot dead the following day by an armed detective, while Ms Valdez's remains were discovered less than 48 hours after her abduction in south Dublin.
Teresita and Danilo Valdez were the chief mourners at the funeral of their only child, which took place in Banganan, a small village near the town of Aritao.
The service began at 7am local time, with Ms Valdez's remains brought to St Joseph's Catholic Church, with Fr Nilo Ogaya the chief celebrant of the Mass, which lasted a little over an hour.
At least 300 relatives and friends of the tragic young woman attended the funeral, before her remains were brought in a white coffin to the nearby cemetery where she was laid to rest.
Mourners released a number of white balloons in Ms Valdez's memory, while there was also a floral offering at the chapel.
Relatives and close friends of the 24-year-old spent time reminiscing about happy moments they shared with her, while some expressed their anger over her horrific murder.
Locals described the funeral service as "highly emotional", with Ms Valdez's mother Teresita taking ill on two occasions during the Mass. She was tended to by first aiders on both occasions.
After the burial, relatives and friends were invited to the Valdez family home in Banganan village for lunch.
Mark Congdon, honorary consul for the Philippines in Ireland, said that his thoughts were with both the Valdez and the Hennessy families, who were "subsumed" by the tragedy.
"On this day, July 2, 2018, we remember Jastine as she is laid to rest in her hometown of Aritao.
"We remember Jastine's parents Teresita and Danilo, her grandmother and all her extended family and friends.
"We remember the sincere outpouring of empathy of both the people of the Philippines and Ireland and all the incredible acts of quiet kindness shown in respect of Jastine, a young girl at the beginning of an exciting journey in life who was tragically and inexplicably taken," Mr Congdon said.
"We remember the Hennessy family, innocent victims subsumed by this senseless tragedy.
"Most of all we remember a beautiful young daughter, granddaughter, cousin and friend. A young, hard-working lady, full of love, fun, joy and so many dreams for the future.
"Jastine rests with her late grandfather and uncle in comfort and peace. We will always miss you, Jastine, and miss what could have been.
"Take care you have done some service to both the people of the Philippines and Ireland by bringing us closer together in grief and warmth for a brighter future in your memory."
Yesterday's funeral service followed a 40-day mourning period by her family, which included Ms Valdez's remains lying in repose at her family home in Anitao for 33 days.
The remains of Ms Valdez were discovered near Puck's Castle Lane, Rathmichael, in south Dublin, following a massive search operation.