Mary Jane Veloso with her cheerfulness and endless joking was like sunshine streaming into the gloom that blanketed the prison island where she and eight other foreigners awaited their execution for drug trafficking at midnight of April 28.
By all accounts, Mary Jane, a 30-year-old mother of two, seemed to have peacefully accepted her fate, to die before an Indonesian firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, off Central Java.
The reversal of fortune on April 28, the reprieve that came five minutes before the scheduled execution, has made Mary Jane's spirits even higher and her strength more contagious, according to her family.
Stories of hope
Now she can even find excitement in looking for an occasion to wear the plain white dress that she would have worn to her funeral had the execution taken place.
"She finds the dress so beautiful. She told us she would wear it when she plays the role of an angel in the Mothers' Day celebration (at the prison)," said Maritess Veloso-Laurente, Mary Jane's older sister.
The Velosos, the parents Celia and Cesar, and sister Laurente, met with Inquirer editors and reporters on Thursday night, accompanied by their lawyers, to recount not just the gloom and despair that awaited them in Indonesia but their stories of hope.
Brave young mother
According to Laurente, Mary Jane's was a story of a brave, young mother who went overseas at the age of 25 because hunger and poverty were, to her, an even more frightening prospect for her two young children, Mark Daniel, now 12, and Mark Darren, now 6.
"It would be awful if my children went hungry," Laurente quoted Mary Jane as saying back in April 2010 before she flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio.
On April 22, 2010, Mary Jane was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia after 2.6 kilograms of heroin was discovered in her luggage. She was sentenced to die on Oct. 10, 2010.
But even in the face of death, Mary Jane showed her family the same courage she had when she left the country to find work as a domestic helper.