Emirates

Visa ban: Filipina can't pay last rites to her mom in Sharjah

Visa ban: Filipina can't pay last rites to her mom in Sharjah

Dubai: A Filipina expat, aged 65, died of a heart attack in Sharjah on Wednesday. Her daughter, a former Dubai resident of 18 years, who currently resides in Manila, is desperate to come to the UAE to arrange the repatriation of the remains. But she can’t come down as she can’t apply for a visa.

In a similar situation, the father of a Filipino university professor in Ras Al Khaimah, passed away back home on March 16 due to cardiac arrest. The UAE resident can’t go because of flight suspension and lockdown in the Philippines.

In these troubling times, the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) has separated families, even in death as members cannot bid farewell to their loved ones.

Sharing her predicament, Bernadette Leobrero, 35, whose mother Erlinda Bolivar Leobrera, 65, died of cardiac arrest in a Sharjah hospital, said she is in a desperate situation.

Leobrero could not apply for an entry visa because UAE authorities have temporarily suspended since March 17 the issuance of all entry visas. Pre-issued UAE visas (all types) were also cancelled and passengers cannot apply for a new visa until further notice.

“I’ve posted a message on social media tagging some UAE leaders in a desperate plea to allow me to come to the UAE,” Leobrero told Gulf News.

“My mother worked for around 20 years at a Pakistani school in Sharjah. I used to live with her but I returned to the Philippines a few years ago. I was not able to visit my mother when she had a stroke a couple of years ago, and I was again not around when she passed away. I really hope, this time I will be able to arrange for the immediate repatriation of her remains,” she added.

Leobrero said she is in touch with her mother’s employers.

“My mother’s body is still in the mortuary. I just really hope and pray that she can finally be brought home and we can have funeral services for her,” she added.

Live funeral broadcast

Meanwhile, Dr Niño Decenorio, 42, senior vice-president at Bath Spa University Ras Al Khaimah, exhausted all measures to be able to attend the memorial service for his father who passed away on March 16.

Nino
Dr Niño Decenorio, Image Credit: Supplied

“After hearing the sad news, I immediately booked a ticket for myself, my brother and nephew to go home. We got tickets from Emirates but we were still not able to travel because the Philippines was placed under ‘enhanced community quarantine’,” said Decenorio who is originally from General Santos City in Mindanao, south of Manila.

There was no difficulty for Decenorio to fly to the Philippines from Dubai but the dilemma was how to reach his hometown.

Decenorio said: “First there was a lockdown in Metro Manila, so I looked for a flight to Clark. Then the entire Luzon was placed under enhanced quarantine so I booked a flight to Cebu. Then Cebu was placed under lockdown and travel by land, air, or sea were all suspended.”

“I had no choice but to stay in the UAE,” said Decenorio, who resides in Ajman.

“The funeral service was held on Wednesday and I asked my siblings to broadcast it on Facebook Live. I sat in my room, lit up a candle, watched the memorial, and silently uttered my prayers and bid my father farewell,” added Decenorio, who is the family bread winner.

“This has been really very difficult for me as I’ve always been very close with my father but I also understand why the Philippine government has imposed stringent measures to ensure the welfare of the Filipinos,” he added.

“I support the government in fighting the spread of COVID-19. I just hope and pray that this health crisis would be over soon so I can finally come home and pay my last respects to my beloved father,” Decenorio concluded.