Jastine Valdez was an only child who moved with her family from Philippines

‘We would not expect this type of violence in Ireland, it’s a European country’

Jastine Valdez: the 24-year-old student was abducted on Saturday evening

Jastine Valdez: the 24-year-old student was abducted on Saturday evening

 

Members of the Irish Filipino community have described their shock and distress following the disappearance of Jastine Valdez on Saturday.

The 24-year-old woman and her family had moved to Ireland from the Philippines in 2015 and settled in the picturesque Wicklow town of Enniskerry.

She had enrolled in Tallaght Institute of Technology and also worked part-time in a restaurant in Bray.

The registrar at Tallaght Institute of Technology Dr Kenneth Carroll said on Monday “everyone in the college is very shocked and concerned for her welfare”.

Ms Valdez was a first year part time Accounting and Finance student at the college, he confirmed.

She usually commuted to and from work and college by bus and was often seen waiting at the bus stop in Enniskerry.

The Valdez family are close and Jastine was an only child. She was frequently in touch with her parents, especially through Facebook, so when they didn’t hear from her on Saturday evening they became concerned. Jastine had been living at home with her parents when she went missing on Saturday.

Eugene Ramos, a close friend of Jastine’s father, said the entire Filipino community was deeply affected by Ms Valdez’s disappearance. “None of us have been able to sleep and all parents are worried about their children.”

Mr Ramos, who has a teenage daughter, already felt shaken following the death of Leixlip schoolgirl Ana Kriegel last week. “I live in Celbridge and we were all very aware of what happened to that 14-year-old girl. Then with Jastine it was another girl. I’m far more alert now about my daughter’s safety, we want all our daughters to be very careful.”

Tina Manipis, who has lived in Ireland for five years and also has a daughter, says she always considered Ireland a safe country for her children to grow up in. “We would not expect this type of violence in Ireland, it’s a European country. We think of this place as a safe environment.

“As a parent to hear this story is very hard, not only because she is part of the Filipino community, but also because she was someone’s daughter. I feel for her parents and especially for her mother. I cried when I saw they’d found a body. I was still hoping she was locked in a house somewhere, there was still a glimmer of hope.”

While Ms Manipis does not personally know the Valdez family, she says the Irish Filipino community are very closely connected and supportive of one another. “We all know each other through friends and we condemn this heinous crime against one of our country women.”

Cres Abragan, a nurse and community leader with the Couples for Christ religious organisation, says his friends and family were fixated on the news updates following Jastine’s abduction during his child’s communion celebrations on Sunday. “The whole community has been affected by it. It’s devastating and we are in a state of shock.”

He is also worried about his 13-year-old daughter’s safety and drove her to school on Monday morning. “She normally walks but I feel I need to be extra careful now. Parents should be extra cautious and bring their daughters to school and collect them.”

A vigil for Jastine Valdez has been organised by the Filipino community and will be held on Monday at 8pm in the chapel of the Blessed sacrament on Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin.

Raymond Garrett, the former director of operations at the Filipino Consulate who helped organise Monday’s vigil, says he expects a large number of Irish-Filipinos to attend the event. “Filipinos are very shocked by what’s happened and I know plenty of people want to pass on their sentiments to the family. Everyone is welcome to come and support the Valdez family.”

The family have requested privacy and do not wish to speak to the media at this time, Mr Garrett said.