Aldrin Geronga and his daughter, Yoare, 12, said Tuesday afternoon that they have lost a caring wife and mother, a woman with a great sense of humor and a love of the Golden State Warriors.
Felomina "Fyla" Geronga, 43, of Alameda was identified earlier Tuesday as the final victim in the limousine fire that claimed five lives Saturday night.
As Geronga got ready to go out with her friends Saturday for a bridal shower, Neriza Fojas, the new bride, and her friend Michelle Estrera, also were getting dressed at the Geronga home. They were happy, giggling and excited, Aldrin Geronga said. Yoare, a seventh-grader at Alameda Community Learning Center, helped her mother pick out her outfit and teased that her make-up was too dark.
A neighbor who lives in the home below the Gerongas' Walnut Street duplex was teary as she described hearing the laughter coming from the house above as the ill-fated friends prepared for a girl's night out. "You could hear the commotion upstairs, the high heels walking here and there," said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified.
Expecting to be dropped back at the home at the end of the evening, Fojas left her bag there, where it still sits, Aldrin added.
It was through Aldrin that Fyla had gotten to know the other women, all Filipinas who had gone into medicine. Now a nurse at Shanghai Home Healthcare in Pleasanton, Aldrin used to work at Fruitvale Healthcare Center where several of the victims worked. Fyla was a medical technician at Kaiser in Oakland.
The couple first met in 1990, married in 2000 and moved from the Philippines to the United States in 2005. They started out in Michigan but soon moved to Alameda. In addition to Yoare, the couple has a son, Abero, 10, who attends Donald D Lum Elementary School.
Cammie Harris, the school's principal, said Tuesday that Abero was back at school. "He's holding up really well. He seems anxious to get back to his routine," she said. Geronga was an active volunteer in the school and known as the "mom who made the best lumpia," Harris said.
Geronga valued family and maintained a strong connection to her Catholic faith, worshipping regularly at St. Joseph's in Alameda, said the neighbor in the duplex.
Geronga met her husband when they were both students at Central Escolar University, a private institution in Manila.
The neighbor said that the Gerongas were planning a trip back to the Philippines this summer. Fyla was from Ilocos, a region of Luzon.
Elaine Rodriguez, another neighbor on Walnut Street, said she's in shock. "[Felomina] was outgoing and friendly," she said. Geronga and her husband often invited their neighbors to birthday parties and celebrations. If Rodriguez couldn't attend, Geronga would send over plates of food.
"Fyla was a very caring mother and wife," Aldrin Geronga said. "All the positive words you can think."
The family loved to watch the Golden State Warriors. "Every time we watched the Warriors, she liked David Lee," Yoare said. It's hard to watch the games now, Aldrin added.
"Almost every day I'm with her, and now sadly she's out of sight," he said. "Sometimes, you think of following her, but I have my kids. But they're stronger than me."
Geronga is the last victim to be identified from the limo fire. Her name was included in the first official release from the coroner. The other four vicitims were identified by their families. They are Michelle Estrera of Fresno; Anna Alcantara of San Lorenzo; Neriza Fojas of Fresno and Jennifer Balon of Dublin.
Visitation Services for Geronga will be 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Greer Family Mortuary in Alameda with the funeral scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday.