3 former teachers ‘missing’ in China arrive at NAIA

AFTER losing contact with their loved ones for one week, the three retired teachers of Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City who were reportedly missing in China safely arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 Sunday evening and were reunited with their families.

Upon arrival, sisters Linda Varela Guce, 72, Josefina Varela Baysic, 70, and Pacita Varela de Guzman, 77, recounted their ordeal after they were stranded at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China for a connecting flight to the Philippines due to Typhoon Hanna.

”Nakaupo lang kami doon, with so many baggages there. May one time na natutulog kami, yakap-yakap namin ang aming baggages. Nagro-rosaryo kami. Nagdadasal kami na, ‘Lord, please help us.’ Wala kaming contact sa aming families,” De Guzman told reporters in an interview upon their arrival at the NAIA 1 early Tuesday morning.

The three were chance passengers who finally took the China Eastern Airlines flight MU 211 after their relatives sought the assistance of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte and media to help find their whereabouts.

Earlier, Djoanna Varela said her aunts left John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on  August 9 aboard China Eastern Airlines flight  MU 298 with arrival time of 4:40 a.m. on August 10 at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China.

Due to bad weather, their plane landed instead at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Hubei, China before flying to Pudong International Airport in Shanghai where they were stranded again due to rebooking problems.

De Guzman said the concerned airline personnel allegedly failed to provide them means of communication to contact their loved ones and the situation was aggravated by their expired SIM cards following their five-month vacation in New Jersey and language barrier.

“None, wala (communication), ang cellphone namin expired na because
we stayed there (New Jersey) for five months. Wala na kaming contact,
umiiyak na kami doon, paano namin makokontak ang aming pamilya,” said De Guzman,  adding  they  moved around in airports and hotels provided by the China Eastern Airlines in China during their ordeal.

Baysic said that some of their belongings were allegedly lost during their stay there.

“Noong kinuha namin ang baggages namin, nakita ko wala na ‘yung susi, tanggal na ang susi tapos halos wala ng laman ‘yung baggage na ‘yun. Tapos nakita namin talagang ang dami-daming nawala,” Baysic said.

The local media is still waiting for the official statement of China Eastern Airlines about the incident.

In recalling the events, Baysic said her cousin Marlon David, who was at the NAIA Terminal 1 with two other relatives to fetch the three retired teachers, received a viber call around 2:12 a.m. last August 11,  from Guce using mobile number +639158458774 under the name of “Alzor” informing that their flight was canceled and were stranded due to typhoon Hanna.

In a phone interview, Alzor Tapia, the owner of the phone, said he saw the three senior citizens at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport and also at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

“In fairness sa China Eastern Airlines, inasikaso at inilagay kami sa magandang hotel at buffet ang food. Talagang masama lamang ang panahon at nagkagulo sa dami ng stranded,” Tapia said.