Family of slain Filipina in UAE celebrates her birthday

The family of murdered Dubai businesswoman, Lorna Lim Varaona, gathered to celebrate what would have been her 52nd birthday.

The family of Lorna Lim Varona, the Dubai businesswoman who was stabbed to death last summer, gathered at the Hyatt Regency's revolving restaurant last night to celebrate what would have been her 52nd birthday.

"I would like to remember the good times and bringing up the children with her," said her husband, Pablo, 65, who met Lorna - then 19 - when she worked as a receptionist at the same hotel in 1980. "She has raised them well."

Mrs Varona was found murdered on August 31, nearly a week after being reported missing. She had been stabbed at least six times. Sharjah Police found her body stuffed in a bag in the boot of her green Jaguar S-Type in Sharjah's Industrial Area 11. A family friend has been charged with her murder.

Mr and Mrs Varona had four children: Maria Lourdes, 29, Joseph Luke, 27, Joseph Louis, 26 and Maria Liza, 24.

The family chose Al Dawaar Restaurant because the hotel brings back a lot of good memories.

"If she were alive, we'd still be celebrating her birthday in a hotel or a restaurant like this revolving restaurant," Maria Lourdes said. "Last year, we were at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa."

Joseph Luke, who arrived from Manila on December 28 with Joseph Louis, said the family liked intimate birthday dinners. "It really means a lot to us that we're celebrating our mum's birthday at a memorable place," he said. "Our dad is a good storyteller and so was our mum. We loved asking them about how they met here and their experiences."

Yesterday, the family attended a hearing at the Dubai courts, a requirement for the transfer of the business licence to Maria Lourdes and Maria Liza.

Maria Lourdes, who quit her managerial job in Manila to help her sister run their mother's four business interests, said: "When we're together, I tell Liza not to dwell on our painful past so she won't get depressed. I assure her that when she needs me, I'll always be here for her."