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International student returns to the Philippines to pay respect to wife and children who died from Cebu fire

A heartbreaking homecoming

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Val Clyde Carvajal, an international student in Melbourne, left for the Philippines on 11 September to pay homage to his wife and children. On 31 August, Carvajal lost his whole family in a fire accident in his hometown in Cebu City. 

His wife Hannah, 34, and three children – Felicity Sachi, 12; Andre, 6 and Dan Henry, 3 – were among seven residents who died from the fire that broke out in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Cebu City. Carvajal’s aunt Lillian Carvajal was also among the casualties.

Police investigators believe that the victims were trapped when the fire broke out and that it was too late when they learned about it. The cause of the fire is still being determined.

Outpouring of support

While studying as an international student in Melbourne, Val Carvajal also supported his family back home. Before the tragedy, he promised his wife and children that he would bring them to Australia. Now, Carvajal still wants to fulfill their dreams by bringing their ashes to Australia.

To help fulfill Carvajal’s wishes, his friend Lorena Pedrosa set up a GoFundMe drive which has now reached nearly $30,000.

Val expressed thanks to those who assisted him and his family. 

“I am truly touched by everyone’s gesture. I want to THANK YOU ALL for your support and sympathies during this difficult time. Although it is challenging, I find comfort in the fact that not just my friends and family are thinking of me but ALL OF YOU. Thank you for all your prayers,” Carvajal said in a message via GoFundMe.

“To ALL THE PEOPLE who I have never met, I have never seen, I have never heard of and yet generously donated, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to THANK the people behind this campaign, ANNE VALERIE DE BUSTOS, JOSELLE LONTOK, ALMA SUBERON and most especially LORENA PEDROSA ZELLER, I will be forever grateful.”

Close family relations

On his Facebook post, Van Clinton Argallon Carvajal, Val’s brother, said that he was at work when the fire set their ancestral house ablaze.

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“I would have been able to save them, being the only man in the house, I would have been able to get them out alive. This has been eating me the past few days since that tragic day. I was never able to save them, I was never able to save anything from the house,” Clinton said.

“My aunt, Lillian Carvajal was there to make sure that my brother Clyde and I could get through life even without our parents. Our aunt acted like a mother to both me and Clyde. I may not have been a perfect and an ideal nephew to my aunt, but I tried my best to be able to juggle work, and take care and look after her needs, especially that she was diagnosed with Dementia. The same is true with my sister-in-law Hanna, who also made sure that her meals were eaten on time.

“I guess at this point, everything has not sunk in with me yet. Everything has been hectic and at this point, I don’t even know where to start. I miss my nephews, my niece, sometimes I could not help but wonder, why do tragic things happen to good people.

“The road to healing and recovery will be long, a painful one, but I always believe that everything happens for a reason. I am not alive without a purpose, and I will make sure that I find that purpose.

Courtesy: Manila Bulletin/YouTube


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