9/11 Victim Marie Rose Abad, Village Built To Help Poor Filipinos In Her Name – Gawad Kalinga charity

In this photo taken Aug. 4, 2011 at his home in Tagaytay City, south of Manila, Philippines, Rudy Abad, sitting beside the picture of his late wife Marie Rose Abad

Its often through tragedy that new life and hope are born this is such a story as business woman Marie Rose Abad was a victim of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. There is obvious sadness in grief as shown in the photo with husband Rudy Abad taken on August 4th 2011. But one action that took his wife also created a village, as her husband donated over $60,000 in memory to his wife for 50 one storey houses as a tribute to their marriage of 26 years and desire to help the needy in the Philippines.

Abad, who has retired and now shuttles between homes in Las Vegas and Manila, has become an advocate of philanthropy, urging rich Filipinos to help the poor beyond giving alms.

He says Sept. 11 transformed him, teaching him about suffering.

Marie Rose Abad "If the tragedy that happened to Marie did not happen … I don’t know that I would have been moved to do the same thing," he said.

"It was the tragedy that opened up your eyes, that makes you want to do something far and beyond."

The creation of something good out of that awful day is surely something that has already enriched the lives of the whole village but also the fact it sets presidence for others to do the same. If you ever visit these areas that are often just run down shoved together shacks its right at the bottom of the food chain removing dignity and respect as well as many other basic human functions. Introducing a single level home may not sound much to most but in reality it gives people pride, a place to call their own and a neighbourhood that they would never see otherwise. Truly enriching lives and its for this reason as resident Nancy Waminal, a 37-year-old mother of two said "She’s a hero around here,"  As its only knowing what it is to have nothing could many people even understand how bad life can be in the Philippines.


9/11 Victim Marie Rose Abad, Village Built To Help Poor Filipinos In Her Name - Gawad Kalinga charity

The neighbourhood previously was a full of garbage, human waste and high crime as well as drug and alcohol abuse. The residents today though see Marie Rose Abad Village as a beautiful spot spun from disaster thousands of miles away.

"This used to be a dreaded area," said Waminal, who heads the village homeowners’ association. "Now there is no more fighting, no more stabbings, no more drinking on the street."

The plaque you can see on the wall in the photo is an image of Marie Rose with a welcoming sign into the community. Every day its cleaned by residents who treat and regard her as family even though very few know about her life. Marie Rose was in fact a senior executive for Keefe,Bruyette & Woods investment bank who was on the 89th floor when the second plane hit the twin towers. Around this time she was making a last call to her husband on her cell phone asking him to pray for her shortly after hanging up the tower collapsed ending in Rudy Abad’s words “a fairy tale marriage in an American dream”.

It was a visit to the Philippines that the crushing poverty of the country that hit them had in 1989 as it was Rudy Abad’s first visit back to the country since 1963 as well as being from a wealthy family in the country. For he had told his wife the Philippines was paradise but that visit appalled them.

"I could not believe what I was seeing because right there from the airport I could see the squatters, the shanties and everything," he said during an interview at his home south of Manila. "We were looking at each other because my story to her was the Philippines is beautiful."

One day out jogging they had arrived near a cathedral where children aged 4 – 5 approached them for lottery tickets. They hadn’t brought any money on the run but it was at this time Marie Rose first felt the pain of poverty, requesting that she was taken to a bank where they withdrew around $12 worth of Philippines coins. Returning to the church they purchased all the lottery tickets to an applause from the children.

Later, he said she told him: "I don’t know when, where and how but some day, I’m going to come back and I’m going to do more than this."

On the morning of the 9/11 attack Rudy was busy exercising in his basement when she called him to say she was all right after a plane had hit the first tower. At this point he switched on the TV to see a second plane hit the other tower in disbelief.

Her voice became frantic in succeeding calls as chaos engulfed her office. Then, the final call: "It’s too hot, this might be the last time that I will talk to you," she said.

"I remembered her last words to me at the time was, ‘Ru, pray, pray,’" he said.

"I said, ‘Yup, OK’ " and they hung up.

A few minutes later, he saw her tower collapse to the ground.

"Every time, if I think of that, I feel how all that concrete came down on her," he said, weeping.

It was the second time the towers had been attacked, in 1993 Marie Rose was there as well "I was there when she came down full of smoke on her face because they had walked down 110 stories," he said, adding that she was stunned and just wanted him to bring her home instead of taking her to the hospital.

Abad lost the next three years of his life after the death of his wife due to being unable to deal with the loss "I lost the other half of me so my half didn’t know what to do," he said.

It was then he met friends involved with Gawad Kalinga charity which look to transform slums and lives across the Philippines into decent, productive communities via volunteers and donations.  This brought back the memory of Abad’s wife
’s promise to help the poor in the Philippines at which point he decided to donate over $60,000 for the construction of a village for destitute families in Manila’s Tondo slum region.

During construction Abad brought wealthy Filipinos to lay bricks and paint the houses as well as a friend bringing tables, chairs and a glass showcase for a village cafe. This is now used by young students who hang out and study there.

0 comments for “9/11 Victim Marie Rose Abad, Village Built To Help Poor Filipinos In Her Name – Gawad Kalinga charity

  1. Rey del Rosario
    November 12, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Rudy might have been a classmate in grade 7 at Ateneo de Manila back in the 50s. Would just like to say hello.