Fely Plangca Moore, the older sister of COVID-19 casualty Miguel Plangca, had no plans leaving her job in the Philippines.
Fely was happy working for 17 years as an administrative staff at a training institution and real estate developer in Pasay City. When Miguel, whom Fely fondly called Loloy, found out his sister was earning very little, he encouraged her to move to Ireland for a better life.
But when tragedy struck, Fely had to dig deep for the battles that lay ahead.
After surviving the 1976 tsunami that hit Pagadian City and losing her eldest brother to suicide in 2005, Miguel’s death due to the deadly virus is another battle she knows she will win. Miguel’s children — Mikee, 21; Michael, 19; John, 14; and Chekie, 12 — are now under her care. Mikee, trained to do sign language, is also looking after Michael who is deaf and mute.
An accountancy graduate from Ozamis City, Fely has two other brothers and two sisters in the Philippines and another sister in the US. She flew to Ireland in May 2008 as a tourist and married Irishman John Moore of Allenwood in October 2008. The couple have a son, Ismael.
Miguel, who was working as a packer at frozen food factory Birds Eye in Kildare, was renting a room near his workplace while his wife, Gliceria, and their four children remained in the Philippines. In 2014, Gliceria died of cancer. Fely encouraged Miguel to bring the children to Ireland. He initially refused because his salary was not enough to support them. Later, after much prodding by Fely, he conceded and brought the kids to Ireland 2016. They lived with Fely and John in Allenwood.
All was well until Fely and Miguel fell ill with COVID-19. When Fely recovered from the virus and went home on April 15, Miguel was already transferred to Mater Hospital for more advanced care. When they visited him on May 12, his skin color was normal and he was awake, conscious, and he opened his eyes. Fely whispered to him, “Loloy, naa na mi Loy.” (Loy, we are here now.)
“I thought it was the miracle I was praying for because he looked a lot better,” Fely said. “But the nurse informed me that his organs, especially his lungs, have severely deteriorated. On May 13 at about 4:30 am, Mikee and I were told by the doctor that he had a few hours to live.”
All Miguel’s children, including 29-year old Stephanie with a different mother and who is based in Abu Dhabi, managed to say their final goodbyes online. Miguel had tears in his eyes when Fely uttered: “Ayaw kabalaka kay ako magbantay sa mga bata.” (Don’t worry because I will look after the kids). Miguel died on May 13 after a 41-day battle with the virus.
“Looking back, now I know why Loloy wanted me to move to Ireland. He wanted me to look after his children when he dies,” Fely said.
At present, she is very grateful for the money raised for Miguel’s children. The funds have grown to a hefty 283,865 euros (P16 million) from 8,000 donors, way more than the original target of 1,500 euros (P85,000) set by Philippine Consulate Officer & Kildare Filipino Community President Aina Conway through a gofundme account (https://www.gofundme.com/f/kuya-miguel-plangca039s-funds-for-his-treasures.)
“I am very thankful for the support. The funds raised is still a miracle that was granted, just in another form. I want to thank everyone who donated to help Miguel’s children,” Fely said.
When asked what their plans are, Fely and John said they intend to buy a caravan or loghouse where the boys can live in while the girls stay in their guest room. The rest of the money will be lodged in a trust fund for the children’s education.