Filipino quake victim remembered for love of family

Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) For the husband of Melody Albano Castro, the Filipino caregiver killed in the recent Hualien earthquake, the grief of losing his beloved wife has caused him unimaginable pain that no one seems to know how to deal with."He is always crying, we don't understand well what he is saying," said Mishelle Pacquing Macanaya Rosales, Castro's cousin, referring to Castro's husband, identified as Jay-ar.The right side of Jay-ar's body was paralyzed in a motor accident in 2014, making it hard for him to speak clearly, and that has prevented him from expressing his feelings about Castro's death in front of family members, Rosales said."The aura of his face looks like it's very hard to accept."The accident was a primary reason behind Castro's decision to leave Jay-ar and their three-year-old daughter behind to work as a caregiver in Taiwan. She wanted to save up for a brain operation for her husband, Rosales said in an online interview with CNA on Sunday night.Castro was taking care of a person with disabilities on the 7th floor of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building that was nearly toppled over by the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck Hualien late on the night of Feb. 6.She died of injuries sustained as the building listed to one side, while the three others in the apartment at the time survived. Having grown up with Castro in a rural village in Cagayan province in the northeastern part of Luzon Island until they had their own families, Rosales was flooded with good memories when she was asked about her childhood with her younger cousin.Rosales said she was five years older than Castro, but her cousin was more "mother-like." "She deals with other people as if she knows them all. She is friendly," Rosales said."Simple living in the barrio reminds us of our childhood, helping one another in harvesting vegetables alongside the river just to help our parents and relatives," Rosales said."I never saw her surrendering when it comes to work and even helping others with joy and gladness in her heart."Castro's daughter, Given Grace A. Castro, also lives in the same barrio, Rosales said. "She is now a kindergarten learner, really pretty and dedicated in her studies."The unexpected death of the 28-year-old Castro also left the family of five to deal with the loss of their main household income. "My aunt (Castro's mother) can't accept that Melody was gone because she is the breadwinner of the family," Rosales said."We are trying to help my auntie and even explain to her everything," she added.Jayson Albano, Castro's younger brother, told CNA that it's such a difficult time for his family. "Everything happened in a blink of an eye," said Albano. "We are saddened by my sister's loss but we are trying our best to be strong." Castro's tragic death again exposed the longstanding problem of the lack of legal protections in Taiwan for foreign caregivers, who are not covered by the Labor Standards Act and the Labor Insurance Act and therefore are entitled to fewer injury, disability or other benefits.There is a provision in Taiwanese law, however, that pays compensation to the families of employees who die on the job but do not have labor insurance.Because of that, Castro's family will receive NT$1.19 million (US$40,341) from the Ministry of Labor. Her family will also get another NT$600,000 from the Hualien County government given as "consolation money" for all victims of the earthquake.But that compensation still falls short of what Taiwanese workers with insurance are entitled to, and labor groups have renewed calls for the government to address the issue.No amount of compensation, of course, can bring Castro back, and when asked how she wished her cousin to be remembered, Rosales talked about the warm, helpful, and kind care she received from her."We love her and miss her so much," Rosales said.