Updated:Coronavirus Chronicles 6: Virus claims 47-year old father

GoFundMe fundraising for Warlito Valdez. (GoFundMe)

Updated:March 9, 2020, 8:30 AM

Richmond, B.C.

Paying Tribute to Warlito Valdez


‘He was such a nice man’ – wife

By Teodoro ‘Ted’ Alcuitas

Editor, Philippine Canadian News.Com

“He said ‘I’ll be fine,’ and we said goodnight. That was our last conversation,” the wife of Warlito Valdez told media after her husband died this Sunday, April 5 – 11 days into a 14-day quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 on March 23.

He was death No. 39 for British Columbia.

But he was not just another statistic.

“He was such a nice man,” Flozier ‘Flo’ Tabangin told media. “How will I pay for our townhouse with just one paycheque? Who will help me?”, she asks as she faces  an uncertain future with her husband gone and four-year-old daughter Charlotte to take care of.

Warlito, like most new immigrants had two or three jobs according to a GoFundMe information. The former nurse has only been in Canada for three years. 

He had been self-isolating himself in the top floor of their townhouse in Richmond after he was tested positive for Coronavirus on March 23. The facility in which he was working – Pendleton Home, reported a small cluster of cases tested positive according to Shannon Crofton, its acting executive director. It is operated by the Richmond Society for Community Living.

Tabangin had told him to watch out for shortness of breath and let her know. “ Don’t hesitate to call me.”

When she did not receive an answer to her text messages, she rushed upstairs to check on him and found him unresponsive, Tabangin told The Vancouver Sun in an interview.

Tabangin, who is also a front-line care worker at a Metro Vancouver seniors’ home, said she had been in daily communication with Vancouver Coastal Health about her husband’s condition.

She said Valdez’ only symptom was a fever, and that he had been instructed to take Tylenol as a treatment and call 911 if his situation worsened.

GoFundMe campaign started by colleagues

Warlito’s colleagues have started a GoFundMe campaign to provide financial assistance to Warlito’s wife (so) she can focus her time and energy on grieving and caring for her daughter. 

To contribute visit the GoFundMe page.

Donations can be made here: gf.me/u/xv37gy

Christie Totten, a manager at RSCL who worked with Valdez, said she was struck by his dedication to his family. She said he worked tirelessly to provide for them.

“His greatest fear after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was spreading the illness to his wife or daughter. He brought a high level of professionalism and dedication to his work.”

She said his commitment to his family motivated her to set up the fundraiser, now totalling $45,000.00 from 693 donors. The campaign hopes to raise $60,000.00

CBC News reached friend and former co-worker Minerva Rivera who spoke on the phone from Montreal, She said she witnessed his dedication for 13 years.

She and Valdez worked in Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2014, she said, as nurses at a hospital dispensary. They became fast friends and Valdez is the godfather of her son.

Warlito Valdez, left, poses for a photo with his co-workers in Saudi Arabia. Friend and former co-worker Minerva Rivera, front row, said their former colleagues from their time in the Middle East have heard the news of his death and are devastated. (Minerva Rivera)  – CBC News

“He’s like a father, a brother to everyone,” Rivera said. “He is so nice. He’s a person you can talk to about anything.”

Rivera said she and Valdez were both from the same part of the Philippines. He did his post-secondary education there before working abroad.

They last spoke about a month ago. She was planning to visit him and meet his family. He insisted she stay in the spare room of his house instead of paying for a hotel.

“If you need something you can count on him any time,” she said.

Unregulated work

Personal support workers (PSWs), the aides who bathe, dress and feed the elderly and chronically ill, are now on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in nursing homes, the places that have suffered most as the novel coronavirus has swept across Canada.

It is a job that is unregulated and poorly paid, with part-time schedules that often force the mostly female workers to take shifts at two or three facilities to eke out a living.

In B.C., the Provincial Health Officer has taken control of staffing at long-term care homes in the Vancouver Area, giving workers full-time hours and forbidding work at more than one location after several residents died of the virus.


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