Ivy Jane Boholst Cabunilas, 33, was attending English class at the Kings Education Limited school at the third floor of the CTV building when an earthquake leveled the structure. Ivy’s husband, JR, who is also based in New Zealand together with their twin daughters called up Ivy’s aunt, Cecilia Ragay, at her home in barangay Mohon, Talisay City, last Tuesday.
“Momi, prayers lang gyud, Momi. Hinaut lang ta nga apil na si Ivy sa buhi (Prayers, Mommy, just prayers. We hope Ivy is included among the living),” JR’s text message read. The frantic husband told Ragay that they were unable to contact Ivy since last Tuesday's earthquake.
Elsewhere, hope remains for relatives of Cebuana nurses Rhea Mae Sumalpong and Emmabelle Anoba, who offered prayers and said they have “gut feelings” that the two survived the wreckage. “We're 100 percent hopeful that Rhea is alive. No one can take hope away from us. No matter what, we close our eyes to news reports that everyone inside the CTV building is dead. We remove that from our minds,” said a teary-eyed Dr. Ethel Uy, Sumalpong's aunt.
Dr. Uy said New Zealand authorities coordinated with Rhea's housemates to uncover the identities of the trapped nurses. Uy said Philippine Charge d’Affaires Giovanni Palec also coordinated with them based on the information given by Sumalpong’s housemate, Ariel Amado Caballero.
Caballero, a nurse from San Fernando town, Cebu, served as the contact of Sumalpong’s relatives in New Zealand. Uy said Sumalpong's parents are ready to go to New Zealand but were advised not to go at this time until the fate of their daughter is certain.
For her part, 51-year-old Anabella Anoba told CEBU DAILY NEWS that her “mother's instincts” tell her that Emmabelle is still alive. She believes she is alive because she knows Emmabelle as “a fighter.” Anabella said Uy broke the news to them about Emmabelle on Tuesday. Since that day, they’ve been able to establish communication only through Emmabelle’s friends through the social networking site Facebook. They're also monitoring the news on cable.
Anabella said she wanted to go to New Zealand but travel expenses prevent her from doing so. Emmabelle, a graduate of the University of Cebu-College of Nursing, worked at the South General Hospital’s intensive care unit for two years and seven months. Her decision to go to New Zealand was partly influenced by co-workers at the hospital including Rhea.
Emmabelle resigned from work on October last year and spent the rest of the months working on her visa. She was supposed to go together with Rhea last October but her initial visa application was denied. Emmabelle also worked at a Korean language school last January but quit after receiving her visa to New Zealand.