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Saturday 23 June 2018

'The most painful goodbye' - cousin pays tribute as 'upset' students hold vigil

Ashley Cortez and Frances Posugac from the South Circular Road in Dublin but originally from Manilla at the vigil for Jastine Valdez in Enniskerry. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Ashley Cortez and Frances Posugac from the South Circular Road in Dublin but originally from Manilla at the vigil for Jastine Valdez in Enniskerry. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Isabelle Delaney Jones, student welfare officer at Tallaght IT, signs a book of condolences. Photo: Damien Eagers

Ryan Nugent and Denise Calnan

A cousin of tragic murder victim Jastine Valdez has paid a heartfelt tribute saying "the most painful goodbyes are the one's that are never said and never explained".

The body of Ms Valdez (24) is expected to be repatriated to the Philippines after a post-mortem examination is completed.

It's understood Ms Valdez's family want her funeral to take place in her native city of Aritao where many of her close relatives live. Ms Valdez had lived with her grandparents in the Philippines up until three years ago when she moved to Ireland.

The young woman had been studying accountancy at IT Tallaght. Last night, dozens of tearful students left the college following a private vigil.

A vigil was also held in Enniskerry last night., the Wicklow town where Ms Valdez lived.

Meanwhile, support for Ms Valdez has flooded in from across Ireland, with more than €70,000 raised for her family in a matter of hours yesterday.

Writing on the GoFundMe page, her cousin Regina Valdez wrote: "The most painful goodbyes are the one's that are never said and never explained. Even if we don't see and speak often, these memories always keep us in touch.

"May your soul rest and peace my dear cousin."

Sister Bernadette Purcell - who works as a full-time chaplain at IT Tallaght - said that many students had been in to see her over the past couple of days.

"They're very, very upset," she said. "This is the first time for a lot of them to experience the death of anyone close to them."

She added that it was a time for the students to support each other.

Sr Bernadette said she rang the parents of Ms Valdez yesterday to share her sympathies and offer of support.

"I called the mum and I said I can speak some Filipino," Sr Bernadette told RTÉ Radio One's 'Drivetime' programme.

"I spoke for just a very short time. She was inconsolable.

"I felt the most sensible thing was not to pursue any conversation and to give her some space. I suppose you can't script it, but I said 'my heart is breaking for you, we are here to help you in any way we can'.

"I said, 'Through all of this, we'll get through this together'.

"I think it's important to say 'together' to let them know they are not alone."

Two college friends also left a heartfelt note at the location where her body was found.

"Words cannot describe the loss you have left us with," it read.

"College has not only bettered our education but has also helped us gain an amazing friend.

"We will always love and miss you. Hope you are at peace now friend," it added.

Irish Independent

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