By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

SAFE AND SOUND. Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco (center), the Filipino caregiver in Israel who was abducted by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and released from Gaza on Friday (Nov. 24, 2023), gets a visit from Migrant Workers Office Tel Aviv Labor Attaché Rodolfo Gabasan (left) and Philippine Ambassador to Israel Pedro Laylo Jr. at Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Laylo said in a statement on Saturday (Nov. 25) that the 33-year-old caregiver is in high spirits and seems to be doing well, health-wise. (Photo courtesy of PH Embassy in Israel)

MANILA – Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco, one of the 24 hostages and only Filipino released by the Hamas from Gaza on Friday, is in high spirits as he continues to undergo full physical and psychological examination in Israel.

The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv said Saturday that Pacheco appears to be in good health.

“He is able to walk and move without difficulty and speaks coherently,” it said in a statement.

Pacheco, who was abducted during the Hamas attack in Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7, was freed after 49 days in captivity.

Thirteen Israelis and 10 Thai nationals were also part of the first batch freed, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

In his conversation with the Embassy, Pacheco shared what kept him strong throughout his ordeal.

[K]aya lang ako buhay dahil sa Panginoon. Kahit nung unang araw pa lang na nakuha ako iniisip ko talaga ang pamilya ko. Habang nandun ako ang gusto ko lang mabuhay para sa pamilya ko (I am only alive because of the Lord. Even on the day they abducted me, I was really thinking about my family. While I was in Gaza, I just wanted to live for my family),” the 33-year-old caregiver told Philippine Ambassador to Israel Pedro Laylo Jr., who received him at the Shamir Medical Center outside Tel Aviv.

There, Pacheco was also able to speak with his wife, Clarice Joy.

Laylo assured the Embassy’s full support for all his immediate needs.

“The Filipino nation shares the joy of Israeli and Thai families who are now receiving this good news. We continue to pray for the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza,” Laylo said.

Clarice Joy also posted on Facebook a photo of her husband, flanked by his Israeli employers, identified as Sir Ido and Sir Gilad.

Pacheco and his 80-year-old ward, Amitai Ben Zvi, initially hid from the Hamas terrorists. Hours later, one of Zvi’s sons received a video of his father’s house in a mess and Pacheco in handcuffs, according to an interview of a son by CNN news channel.

Zvi was killed.

“They never left him/us their whole family on this battle! Thank you so much Lord. Such a blessings and big miracle for having your second life. Big thanks po to all! Let’s pray that all the hostages left will release[d] soon. I feel [for] their family [ies], not that easy. Just keep fighting,” Pacheco’s wife posted on Saturday.

The Times of Israel news outlet quoted Zvi’s daughter as saying that Pacheco worked with “quiet, admirable devotion,” was always attentive to her father’s needs and “supportive in countless ways.”

The Embassy said it will release at a later time information on Pacheco’s captivity given the “sensitive nature of the ongoing debriefing of the released persons and to avoid jeopardizing the safety of the remaining hostages.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Qatar was instrumental in Pacheco’s release after mediating the negotiations on hostages. It also recognized Israel’s assistance.

In addition, it thanked the governments of Egypt and Iran as well as the International Committee for the Red Cross for their support.

“We continue to work on the case of the other missing Filipino national in Israel, and for all other kababayans (countrymen) who continue to be affected by this difficult situation,” the DFA said. (PNA)