'Highly emotional' day as Jastine laid to rest
More than 300 relatives and friends of Jastine Valdez paid their respects to the murdered student at her funeral yesterday.
The 24-year-old was laid to rest in her native Philippines, 40 days after being abducted and murdered in Co Wicklow by father-of-two Mark Hennessy.
Jastine was abducted on May 21 near her home in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, which led to a major garda investigation being launched.
Hennessy was located the following day and shot dead by a detective. Jastine's body was found in south Dublin less than 48 hours after her abduction.
Teresita and Danilo Valdez were the chief mourners at the funeral of their only child, which took place in Banganan, a small village within the town of Aritao.
The service began at 7am local time, with Jastine's body brought to St Joseph's Catholic Church. Fr Nilo Ogaya was the chief celebrant at the Mass, which lasted just over an hour.
At least 300 relatives and friends attended the funeral, before Jastine's remains were taken in a white coffin to the nearby cemetery, where she was laid to rest.
Mourners released white balloons in Jastine's memory, while there was also a floral offering at the chapel.
Relatives and close friends spent time remembering happy moments they shared with her, while some expressed their anger at Jastine's murder.
Local people described the funeral service as "highly emotional", with Jastine's mother Teresita collapsing twice during the Mass. She was tended to by first aiders.
After the burial, relatives and friends were invited to Jastine's family home village for lunch.
Honorary consul to the Philippines in Ireland Mark Congdon said his thoughts were with both the Valdez and Hennessy families, who were "subsumed" by the tragedy.
"On this day, July 2, 2018, we remember Jastine as she is laid to rest in her home town of Aritao," he said.
"We remember Jastine's parents, Teresita and Danilo, her grandmother and all her extended family and friends.
"We remember the sincere pouring of empathy of both the people of the Philippines and Ireland and all the incredible acts of quiet kindness shown in respect of Jastine, a young girl at the beginning of an exciting journey in life who was tragically and inexplicably taken.
"We remember the Hennessy family, innocent victims subsumed by this senseless tragedy.
"Most of all we remember a beautiful young daughter, granddaughter, cousin and friend.
"A young, hard-working lady, full of love, fun, joy and so many dreams for the future.
"Jastine rests with her late grandfather and uncle in comfort and peace. We will always miss you Jastine and miss what could have been.
"Take care, you have done some service to both the people of the Philippines and Ireland by bringing us closer together in grief and warmth for a brighter future in your memory."
Yesterday's funeral service followed a 40-day mourning period by the family, which included Jastine's remains reposing at her family home.
Her body was found near Puck's Castle Lane, Rathmichael, in south Dublin, following a massive search operation.
Gardai believe Jastine was abducted by Hennessy near her home before being murdered within an hour.
A garda operation was launched, and Hennessy was tracked down to a car park in Cherrywood, south Dublin.
During a stand-off with two gardai, including an armed detective, he was shot once in the shoulder as he sat in his black Nissan Qashqai which he had used to abduct Jastine.
The bullet ricocheted into his abdomen, causing fatal injuries. A Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding his death.
A handwritten note was found in the SUV, which had the "Sorry" and "Puck's Castle" written on it.
Gardai then focused their search operation on the Puck's Castle area, where Jastine's body was later found.