The grief is palpable, listening to her account of that terrible midnight night when the whole world turned upside down at Resorts World Manila.
At the wake of medical secretary Antonina Allanigue, the mother of three with five grandchildren, in San Dionisio Church in Parañaque City, News5 listened to a sister who survived the tragedy.
An armed man, Jessie Carlos, had managed to force his way inside the casino parlor of the Resorts World Manila, a hotel-casino-mall-entertainment complex across Ninoy Aquino Terminal 3, opened fire with an assault rifle and torched several gaming tables there, and then proceeded to the chips bank to rake away more than P100 million worth of chips before he was wounded by a gunshot from the security and police personnel pursuing him.
He eventually retreated to a fifth floor room of the hotel, where he apparently set himself on fire realizing he had come to a, well, dead end.
But the fires he started led to the deaths of at least 38 guests and staff who got trapped inside, by suffocation and smoke inhalation.
Antonina’s sister spoke of going to Resorts World to see her elder sister for some bonding time over dinner, after which Antonina on impulse decided to while away some time at the casino.
“She wanted to give it a try,” she recounted, in Filipino. “My sister was not used to doing this. At the first floor, she tried the slot machines. After a while I wanted to bid her goodbye because the night was getting deep.
“Then we heard shots, and I panicked. I shouted at my sister, who was hurrying to cash in her chips. We got separated.
“I got caught in the rush of the stampede. Meanwhile gunshots were going off sporadically. I looked for my sister but failed to locate her.
“I found myself with a group of people headed toward what seemed like an employees exit. A staff person tried to prevent us from leaving, insisting that there was yet no go-signal to let us out.
“There were so many of us, pleading, crying. Many people were injured in the stampede. Some of them were old women. Some just jumped off the escalator.
“Some were trampled on the stairs ..
“I was able to text her and she replied right away, asking where I was. She seemed to say she was in a toilet.
“In the confusion, I assumed from her reply that she had found a way out.
“But no … This hurts so bad, because I was there with her. I survived. She did not.”
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