Nanny’s family wants no media exposure of boyfriend

Community News & Features Apr 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Friends of Shirley Lao suspect foul play

TORONTO–The family of 27-year-old Shirley Lao is requesting that they be left to grieve in private over Lao’s tragic demise. They thank the community and the Philippine government for their efforts in helping repatriate the body of Ms. Lao, but prefer no media scrutiny surrounding her death. In a message sent through Jan Jan Moriente, a family friend, Lao’s family stated that they do not want her boyfriend’s interview to be published or aired in Iloilo “at all”.

The family’s reaction came after an ABS-CBN interview was aired over Balitang America. The family also has made it clear that they do not want anything to do with the boyfriend, Faizal Yousuf ‘Zeon’.

It is believed that the family’s decision was made as the result of an interview with the boyfriend during which he indicated his desire to travel to the Philippines to serve the family. Lao’s friends believe that her relationship with Zeon contributed to her tragic death. Zeon claimed that Lao committed suicide due to the death of a family member and work-related issues.

According to the Toronto Police 12th Division, which is investigating the case, Lao was died after a fatal fall on March 26t from an apartment building on Lawrence Ave. West. She was six months short of obtaining a permanent residency in Canada.

Three of her friends were granted Power of Attorney by the family to help facilitate repatriation of her body to Iloilo, her home province. As of press time on April 6th, Lao’s remains had been scheduled to be flown through Cathay Pacific to the Philippines.

The Philippine Consulate of Toronto and Lao’s friends facilitated the repatriation of Lao’s body, with the embassy paying the costs involved. According to John Reandino, who is in charge of assistance to nationals, they have made arrangements with Balmoral Funeral Homes.

“Although the office in Manila has not yet sent the full repatriation amount that has been requested, the Philippine government is willing to pay the cost,” said Mr. Reandino. “Shirley is an OFW and the Philippine government is always ready to assist every OFWS.”

Faisal Yousuf “Zeon” being interviewed by Marlou Tiro.

The death of Shirley Lao remains a mystery to many of her friends.

During the viewing of Lao’s body on April 3, Zeon sat in the front row with his friends and his alleged “other girlfriend”. The South Asian Zeon resembled a Hollywood movie star, sporting dark Rayban glasses and wearing a black suit. Despite his sombre appearance, friends of Lao refused to talk to him or even acknowledge his presence. Yet he appeared impassive to the animosity surrounding his presence. Nevertheless, observers noticed that both camps seemed to have a mutual agreement to set aside any differences.

Zeon was advised by his friends not to talk to the media. However, he said that he has nothing to fear and nothing to hide. Appearing confident in spite of all the negative comments, Zeon offered his deepest sympathy to the family of Lao. “Really, I’m very, very sorry of the loss”, he told the media. “My mom is deeply sorry for the family….I owe them my life…. I already mention(ed) to my family that I will come to the Philippines and I will serve the family, if they give me the chance. I will definitely go there to the Philippines….I will adopt a child, a young girl, and will name her after Shirley.”

Zeon and Lao met on an online dating website. He said that by the time he met Lao, he was already separated from his wife and Lao knew this, a claim which Lao’s friends have vehemently denied.

According to Gina Valera, another of Lao’s trusted friends, “ Kaya nga palagi silang nag-aaway kasi dadalawa ang girlfriend nitong si Zeon. I already told her to straighten out. May kalaguyo pa yung boyfriend niya tapos nandyan din siya.. sabi ko, napaka-disente mong tao, napakayaman mo sa inyo sa Iloilo… ito pang ginagawa mo…. Kung wala yung isa, doon naman itong si Zeon kay Shirley….binibigyan pa minsan ng pera itong si Zeon… siguro napuno na si Shirley kasi ang alam ko binigyan na niya ng ultimatum si Zeon that it’s either siya or this girl …tuloy pa rin ang relasyon niya sa ex niya – kita mo dala pa niya pati dito sa funeral. (That’s why they are always fighting because Zeon has two girlfriends. I already told Shirley to straighten out because her boyfriend is having another girlfriend while you are still around. You are a decent person and you come from a prominent family in Iloilo and you’re doing that thing. If Shirley is not around, he goes with the other one. Shirley even gave Zeon money. You see, he even brought his girl to the funeral home.)”
Zeon, on the other hand, denied the allegations, saying he loved Lao dearly during their 15- month relationship and will continue to love her. Lao was living with him in his apartment at Lawrence Ave. West, where Lao died. Sobbing, he said “Shirley was an angel….one of the greatest persons that ever came into my life… humble, kind and caring, loving and hilarious with a sense of humor… very intelligent, a great cook and loved by everyone.”

VIEWING of Lao’s remains at Balmoral Funeral in Scarborough.

So what really happened prior to Lao’s death?

Zeon was reportedly the only person present when Lao died and reported the incident to the police. Zeon recalled, “we had some arguments… some problems. Shirley was worried because she lost her job and she was very desperate to get a job because of her resident status in Canada.”

Zeon further assured Lao that his father would give her a job and provide a work permit. He finally referred her to a friend whose job site Shirley disapproved. “Shirley wanted me to move to her job location but I refused because my place at Lawrence is convenient for my job”.

On that fateful day, Shirley kept on texting Zeon. “She said she wanted to hurt herself but I kept on reassuring her that everything will work out fine. She became more depressed when she received a call from her aunt in the Philippines saying that her aunt’s daughter died”.

When Zeon came home, he and Shirley had another heated argument. Nevertheless, at the height of their fight, Shirley still managed to hug Zeon and told him “I love you for life”. Then he left her for awhile, went to sort some things in the cupboard, and suddenly heard a noise. “I was looking for her, went to the lounge and I saw the stool near the balcony. I checked the balcony on the railing… that’s when my life ended… I screamed… asked for help and called police… I guess I was (too) late.”

Friends of Lao do not believe Zeon’s testimony. “I can only say one word: It’s FOUL’”, said Valera, adding, “Personally, yes, 100 percent I believe that there’s foul play involved. As far as I know matakutin si Shirley sa height – maski subway lang takot na takot siya kaya hindi naming maimagine na bigla na lang siya tatalon.” (Shirley is scared of heights so I cannot imagine that she would just suddenly jump from the building.)

Jan Jan Morietto also echoed Valera’s skepticism over Lao’s death. “Yun ang feeling naming lahat – lahat kami tuliro because it’s devastating although mas grabe yung sa pamilya nila kasi kami ang nag-inform sa pamilya nila… hindi namin akalain na yan ang gagawin niya… (We all feel the same way… we have become crazy thinking why she died… in fact we could not even inform the parents because we could not believe how she died.”)

Friends and family have several unanswered questions. The case is still under investigation. However, they hope that the unidentified neighbor who refuses to come forward will be brave enough to tell the truth. According to Valera, “A next door neighbor where Zeon and Shirley lived told us that she heard a very big fight. She even knocked on their door and threatened to call the police if they would not stop screaming. She said that they were really very loud. There was noise followed by silence.”