Pinay died saving her son from killer tornado

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A 46-year-old Filipina died while trying to save her son from the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, in the United States on May 22.

Grace Aquino was one of 124 people who perished in the tornado that devastated parts of the US Midwest last Sunday.


It was not a senseless death, said Gloria Aquino, Grace’s 72-year-old mother-in-law here.

According to Gloria, Grace’s youngest son, Jacob, said he survived only because of his mother.


A report from dzMM Radio on Thursday said there was a second Filipino casualty, identified as Esterlita Moore. No details were given and no confirmation could be obtained from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Message of sympathy

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said the Philippine Consulate in Chicago was already “in contact” with the family of Grace Aquino in Missouri.

The consulate has conveyed its “message of sympathy” to Grace’s husband, Rizaldy, and assured the family of the mission’s assistance, said DFA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Eduardo Malaya.

Filipinos who have relatives in the state may contact the MSEMA at telephone number (573) 526-9100, or the Red Cross (1-800) 733-2767, or the Office of the Missouri Governor (573) 751-3222, said the consulate.

A good mother

Jacob Aquino, 11, and his mother had just attended a church service when the tornado ripped through Joplin last Sunday.


“[Jacob] said he ran out of the church when he saw the twister coming. Grace ran after him and embraced him. A concrete post fell [on them]. Jacob was pinned under his mother,” Gloria said.

“I saw my mommy’s death,” said Jacob, who gave an account of the tragedy by phone to his grandmother on Monday.

“She made a big sacrifice. She’s a good mother,” Gloria said of her daughter-in-law.

She said Grace, a commerce graduate, had followed her husband to Missouri in 2002. Rizaldy had migrated the year before. Grace took on odd jobs, baby–sitting or serving at restaurant tables, to help support the family and put their children through school, Gloria said.

The couple’s two eldest children, aged 24 and 20, finished dentistry and physical therapy, respectively, and were in Kansas City looking for work when the tornado struck.

Other fatalities

Rizaldy, an electrical engineer, was at work at the local railway when the twister tore through Joplin.

Grace was one of four people, three of them Americans, who died in the church.

Rizaldy described Grace’s body as “mangled,” said Gloria.

Grace’s remains will be released by the police once the family has completed the documentary requirements, she said.

Because of the costly airfare, Rizaldy has canceled earlier plans to bury Grace in Pampanga, opting to have his wife cremated instead, Gloria said.

In Guagua, Grace’s father, Armando Layug, 76, fainted when he was informed of Grace’s death.

“If feels like death came to me,” said the devastated Layug.

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TAGS: Death notices, Grace Aquino, Joplin, Missouri, Tornado
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