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Juliet Cataluna, Inquirer News Service
A reprint from INQ7 News

BASCO, Batanes -- Ivatans are in mourning following Monday's crash of the Basco-bound Laoag International Airline Fokker plane in Manila Bay. Seven Ivatans died in the crash while seven others, including Basco Bishop Jose Salazar, survived.

Gov. Vicente Gato declared Tuesday a day of mourning throughout the province. The provincial government also sponsored a Mass at the Basco Cathedral for the crash victims.

The Philippine flag in the capital town was at half-mast to pay respect to the victims.

Gato said the Ivatans are a closely knit people who always help one another in times of need. He directed his staff at the Ivatan Center in Diliman, Quezon City, to extend assistance to the victims, most of whom are confined at the Ospital ng Maynila and the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Manila.

LaoagAir has offered to take care of the burial arrangements, including transport of the victims to Basco.

Gato said he would also ask the Philippine Air Force to help bring the victims home.

The seven Ivatan fatalities were Jomer Dierra (Basco), Earl John Fajardo Rada (Basco), Josefina Fajardo (Basco), Cheryl Fajardo Rada (Basco), Nestor Bernal (who was married to an Ivatan from Itbayat), Normita Mata (Uyugan), and Jefferson Mata (Basco).

The Batanes residents who survived were Bishop Jose Salazar, Nolly Dierra (Itbayat), Nemia Castillejos (Basco), Maria Fitero (Basco), Mariane Poncio (Basco), Wulfildo Alviso (Mahatao), and Carl Barcelona (Ivana).

Provincial officials said they are still verifying if survivor Epifania Reyes is a resident of Batanes. Another survivor, Tessie Bugarin, is based in Batanes.

The Inquirer learned that there were passengers listed in the manifest who did not board the plane. Among them were Victor Blanquera, Ana Blanquera, Ellen Villarta, Linda Maala, Peter Rada, Caridad Viola and Jennifer Fabi.

Villarta, Maala and Fabi arrived in Basco on Monday afternoon after taking a plane of Chemtrad, the other airline servicing Batanes.

Bernardo Fajardo, husband of Josefina Fajardo and father of Cheryl Rada, said he was shocked by the loss of his family which included his grandson Earl John Rada.

Survivor Carl Barcelona, grandson of former judge and mayor Vicente Barcelona, was coming home to attend the wake of his father who died on Sunday.

Also on Flight 585 was Barcelona's son-in-law, Wulfildo Alviso, who is now recovering at the Ospital ng Maynila. His five daughters and another grandson would have boarded the plane but were not accommodated at the last minute.

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