TAGUIG CITY, Jan. 21, 2015—Despite losing his only child to a freak accident during the papal visit in Tacloban City, Paulino Padasas said he is consoled by the fact that Kristel Mae had become an inspiration and role model to her fellow youth in serving others.
Padasas said his daughter had chosen to forego a financially rewarding job and to leave him alone in the city to volunteer for the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) for recovery projects in calamity-hit communities in Samar.
“She may not have given honor to our family, but she brought inspiration to the whole world because she became a model and example to the next generation, ” the elder Padasas told CBCP News in Filipino.
Kristel Mae died last Saturday in Tacloban City when a scaffold that housed the sound system used during the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis collapsed and fatally hit her on the head. She was only 27.
Kristel Mae reportedly traveled from Samar to Tacloban to volunteer in organizing the papal mass where the victims of typhoon Yolanda were remembered. If not for the accident, Kristel Mae would be celebrating her 28th birthday on June 22 with a solo trip to Batanes, according to her father.
“She volunteered, she made the initiative. She exchanged her job here and left me here without a companion. She exchanged me for people she did not know and she served them. ” he added.
Padasas admitted to questioning God’s reason for taking his only child, but said he eventually realized the greater purpose of his loss.
“I questioned God why he had to take my only child. I also couldn’t answer my own question. I just know that only God knows. I just said it because of my overwhelming emotion,” he recounted in Filipino.
According to Padasas, after a while, his mind was opened to the reality that his daughter had to die to become an inspiration, to open the minds of others.
Upon learning about Kristel Mae’s death, Pope Francis privately met with the elder Padasas at the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila early last Sunday. Padasas recalled how he felt at peace when the Holy Father hugged and consoled him.
The Holy Father gave Padasas medallions and rosaries, one of which now hangs over Kristel Mae’s photo placed atop her coffin. Kristel Mae’s remains lie in state at her residence in this city.
“The death of my daughter has meaning because she met the Pope and she died in the line of duty. I told [the Holy Father], ‘her death means something, has a purpose’,” he said.
Aside from accepting the death of his only child, Padasas said he has also forgiven the people responsible for the accident.
“Even if they have faults, I’ve already forgiven them. Who wants to have an accident anyway, no one,” he said.
But Padasas said investigation about the real cause of the freak accident should continue so as to prevent a similar accident from taking innocent lives.
“The investigation should continue to find out who is at fault. The one who is at fault should be held responsible, so that next time, they will be careful. Maybe something like this will happen next time,” the father explained
He, however, explained he is not after personally punishing the ones at fault, but leaves justice to be served by the Lord and by the rule of law.
Meanwhile, Kristel’s mother, Judy Padasas, who has been working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong since 1991, has already arrived in the Philippines.
Kristel Mae’s remains will be interred at the nearby Heritage Park Mortuary and Crematory. (CBCPNews)