In an interview, Mikael Billones, Ember’s 27-year-old cousin, said Ember also wanted to stay at the family home in Palm View Village in barangay Tabunok, Talisay City, after her family's burial
Aside from Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, visitors to the wake of the Ponce family were restricted to Ember’s relatives and classmates.
Two policemen were stationed outside the St. Peter’s Funeral Homes where Ember’s father Emmanuel, her mother Melinda and her three siblings and maid lie in wake.
Paul Redula, Ember’s 26-year-old uncle, said they were informed by the Police Regional Office-7 (PRO-7) about the deployment of their personnel at the funeral homes in Imus Avenue, Cebu City.
A group of Ember's classmates also visited her family's wake.
Mikael said Ember's relatives met last night to decide what to do with her.
He said Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Julian Daan promised to provide legal assistance on the “properties” to be inherited by Ember.
Mikael said the tension between the relatives of both Emmanuel and Melinda is understandable owing to the circumstances behind the massacre.
Thelma Billones, Ember's aunt on her father’s side, said they and Ember agreed to have her family buried in Sorsogon province.
“They will be shipped in Sorsogon this Saturday. Perhaps they will have a wake for two days before they will be buried,” Thelma said.
She said Melinda's relatives apologized to them when they decided to hold Emmanuel's wake in a different chapel before.
“They said before that they wanted to place Emmanuel in a separate chapel because they just want to take care of Melinda. But we're okay now,” Thelma said.
Thelma said Ember didn’t go home and just slept in the chapel.
Anastacia Deniega, the 34-year-old maid who also died in the massacre, will be buried in Talisay City today.
“Her husband does not agree to have her buried in Negros Occidental. Our mother already knew about what happened and she will arrive today (Wedenesday),” Anastacia's elder brother Talino Segara said.
At 4 p.m, Governor Garcia visited the wake and condoled with Ember, giving the child her personal rosary beads and a large white envelope containing a “Mass card.”
“What more can we tell someone who is undergoing such terrible, terrible sorrow so my only consolation is just to pray. Ask her to pray,” she said.
The governor said the rosary beads she gave to Ember were blessed by the pope.
She also gave her own number so that Ember could contact her when she wants.
Magpale talked with Ember before Garcia’s arrival.
For their part, the Cebu Archdiocese said the Ponce family massacre was a result of strained family relations caused by years of working abroad by the father.
“For me, as a member of the Family and Life apostolate, this is a challenge for all of us. We should all help families, especially those whose members work far away,” said Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer.
Dakay said years of physical and emotional distance has affected the couple's relationship and by extension towards their family.
“The idea of OFWs has already become like an institution. It supposedly helps our unemployed couples work abroad. But we all know that it causes more harm than benefits to the family,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Dakay said while he's not totally against overseas work, he hopes that it would be minimized.
This way, family members can work on their relationships by spending more time with each other, he said.
Dakay said the government should strive to generate jobs so that citizens aren't forced to look for work abroad.
“The church can't do it alone. That's why we call out for help from other groups,” Dakay said.
For those who seek overseas employment, Dakay said private institutions and nongovernment organizations should help advocate the preservation of families and healthy marriages. /By Rhea Ruth V. Rosell and Patricia Andrea Pateña, Correspondents with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus and Reporter Candeze R. Mongaya