THE son of the Israeli elderly ward of former Hamas hostage Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco met the Filipino caregiver at the hospital in Israel where he was brought after his release, and recalled the last words of his father.
“My father still had time to tell him (Jimmy), ‘Tell him, I do love him,” Ido Ben Zvi told Israel TV, his voice crackling, holding back his tears.
“’Get out of here. Save yourself.’ But Jimmy chose to stay,” Zvi said.
Pacheco had worked as the caregiver of 80-year old Israeli-American Amitai Ben Zvi for four years, Ido said. When the Hamas mortars were attacking Kibbutz Nirim Oz on October 7, Pacheco was able to bring his ward inside the safe room. But the Hamas militants came and forcibly broke into the safe room and killed the Israeli ward.
Instead of running away, Jimmy laid down under the sofa. When the terrorists came, they shot Amitai and took Jimmy.
“They (Hamas) took Jimmy to the backyard. They put him on his knees aimed a rifle at his forehead and harassed him. They did not kill him of course,” Ido said.
This is the third time Israeli employers spoke about how Filipino caregivers stood behind their ward in the face of danger during the October 7 attacks.
Ido said the first thing that Jimmy told them when they met at the hospital was, “I’m sorry for your dad.”
In a recorded message posted by the Philippine Embassy in Tel-Aviv, Pacheco said he was thankful to God for giving him another lease of life.
“Hindi ko lang talaga aakalain na bubuhayin nila ako kasi pinatay nila ang alaga ko,” the 33-year old native of Ilocos Norte said.
While in captivity, he also lost of hope of surviving the ordeal.
“Noong nasa city pa ako ng Gaza, wala na talaga akong pag-asang mabuhay, wala nang pag-asang makabalik pa sa pamilya ko [When I was in Gaza, I had lost hope of surviving or returning to my family],” he added.
But his strong faith in God and his resolve to survive for the sake of his three young children brought back his will to live.
As for the lessons that he learned during this painful episode in life, he shared, “Sa mga kapwa ko OFW, ingatan po natin ang mga pinagpaguran natin kasi di natin alam – gaya ko po, hindi ko alam na dudukutin ako, kung papayatayin ako that time. Paano na lang ang pamilya ko? Yun ang iniisip ko. Kaya, mag-ipon, pahalagahan ang bawat sahod. Kasi dun ko sa Gaza na-realize na bawat sentimo doon mahalaga sa kanila.”
Pacheco said he feels much better now, and his health is “improving.” After one day of medical screening including psychiatric tests, the doctors released him and he is now in a hotel.
He lost around 10 kilograms of weight because he said, the Hamas were not giving the hostages enough food during his 49 days of captivity.
“I didn’t expect that I could leave that place that day because they were not saying anything. I was just moved to another area,” he said in Filipino.
Pacheco said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family this year as he was not able to do so for the past six years since he started working as anOFW.
He thanked God, the Israeli government, the Philippine government and the Philippine Embassy in Tel-Aviv and everyone who prayed for his safety.