The flower-filled wake of Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople at Heritage Park in Taguig. Photo taken on Aug. 27 by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

CITY OF MALOLOS—Flowers and wreaths still pour in the wake of Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” V. Ople of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) despite earlier request of the family to rather spare the money for the flowers to donation funds for the Ople Training and Policy Center, which their loved one established 19 years ago to help fight for plights and causes of the Filipino workers abroad.  

Pio “Fort” Jose IV, husband of the Secretary could not help but gave a heartfelt appreciation to those fellow workers in the government, private individuals, relatives and friends who sent fresh, beautiful and expensive wreaths for his dearest wife.

The flower-filled wake of Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople at Heritage Park in Taguig.  Photo taken on Aug. 27 by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Flowers for Ople filled the entrance, vicinity, other guest’s room and the chapel of the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City where her boy lies in state since Aug. 23, Wednesday after she died of breast cancer on Aug. 22 at St. Luke’s Hospital in E. Rodriguez, Quezon City. 

“Look at all these, these are very expensive ones in here, their prices will not go lower than P5,000 each. We sent our request (not to shower Toots with flowers but rather donate to the Ople Policy Center) to radio, even TV and social media, but still, there are flowers in every corner. We do appreciate and are very thankful. Our whole family strongly feels their love for Toots through these flowers. But we also hope they will do the same for the Ople Center,” Jose told NEWS CORE at midnight on Sunday. 

The wreath sent by Senator Imee Marcos stands out the most among the flowers offered by all the senators, congressmen, dignitaries and other officials in the government, including President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte. 

The flower-filled wake of Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople at Heritage Park in Taguig.  Photo taken on Aug. 27 by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Earlier, Secretary’s elder sister Hagonoy Councilor Atty. Dalisay Ople-San Jose echoed the family’s requests to rather make donations for the Ople Training and Policy Center. 

Ople’s remains will be brought to Malacanang and at the DMW building along Edsa in Ortigas on Monday, Aug. 28 for necrological services. Her remains will be cremated on Tuesday, Aug. 29, San Jose said. 

Marcos’ message of sympathy to Ople’s family and the nation’s loss because of her demise and his admiration to her as the champion of the migrant workers is being played on a video screen. 

“Yan ang ginawa niyang buhay, siya ang champion ng mga migrant of worjers, nangalaga at nagmahal sa kanila. Walang ibang nasa isip namin kundi siya para pangunahan ang bagong create na Department of Migrant Workers,” (That’s what her life was, she championed the plight and causes of out migrant workers. She was the only one we have in our mind to lead the newly created Department of Migrant Workers), the President said. 

Gov. Daniel Fernando said on Monday that the Secretary is a huge loss not only among migrant workers in the province but even among local employees who come to seek her help. 

Fernando said he wished that there will be another Secretary Ople for our Filipino workers abroad. 

“She will dearly be loved and missed. We want to thank her for her quick and prompt response and action whenever we bring up to her cases of Bulakenyo kigrant workers who are in need of help. She is that dedicated and very compassionate to our migrant workers. She is really a big loss. May she continue to guide the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) May all her plights and causes for them be fulfilled,” the governor said. 

The Ople Training Center has just observed its 19th year anniversary on Aug. 23 after Ople founded it in 2004, the following year after her father, considered Father of OFWs and former Labor Minister Blas Ople died December 14, 2003.

The old Ople was also considered as the Father of Philippine Labor Laws  for crafting the Philippine Labor Code. He was also a former Foreign Affairs Secretary and a senator. 

The flower-filled wake of Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople at Heritage Park in Taguig.  Photo taken on Aug. 27 by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Secretary Ople was the youngest of seven siblings. She is survived by three siblings Luis, Dionisio and San Jose. Raul, the eldest, died more than ten years ago. Former Hagonoy town Mayor and Board Member Felix Ople and Blas Ople Jr., also died of cancer last month. 

The secretary was also survived by her daughter Susanne Laurie and husband Fort.

According to San Jose, while in bed, her sister delegated her daughter, Diana Ople San Jose to succeed her as the executive director of the
Blas F Ople Policy and Training Center Inc.

San Jose said donations to the Policy Center can be made through Diana O. San Jose, Executive Director of the Ople Policy Center at 09153070340 and thru her email ad:diana@oplecenter org and thru Metrobank account—Blas F Ople Policy Center and Training Institute Inc. Account Number: 242-7-242514633 and through her Dalisay O. San Jose at 09618887789.