Search not yet over for missing tourist-A A +A
Sunday, August 25, 2013
SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - The body of tourist Irene Manaois, who went missing inside Sumaguing Cave due flash floods brought about by recent monsoon rains, has not yet been found resulting in the indefinite closing of the popular cave since August 19.
Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA) guide and Ambasing barangay councilor Fabian Batnag said the cave will remain closed until the body of Manaois is found or, at least, until elders declare the cave is safe following the necessary rituals.
Batnag deemed it inappropriate to allow tourists back into the cave until the body is found.
It is a possibility Manaois’ body floated out of the cave to Malitep River and on to the Chico River. But locals and elders are sure the body is inside the cave like what happened in July 2001 during Typhoon Feria's when a guide and a tourist were fished out of the pool waters inside the cave five days after drowning.
Batnag, instead, suggested for tourists to visits other attractions while in Sagada.
Meanwhile, community volunteers are helping cook meals for the rescue team.
Manaois is one among 23 tourists, which included 13 Japanese nationals and 10 Pinoys, who entered the cave August 18 along with eight local guides.
An alarm was raised around 12 p.m. that the 23 tourists and eight guides were trapped inside Sumaguing after flash floods caused waters to rise above the normal level.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported two water pumps have already been used to drain water out of the cave’s pools.
Divers from the Philippine Coast Guard have been invited to join in the search, complete with the conduct of ritual by elders to call for the body of the trapped tourist to appear.
The ritual was done twice following an observation waters are still murky.
The emergency response team of PDRRMC joins the rescuers, including with the combined team of SEGA, Sagada Genuine Guides Association, Philippine Army and Philippine National Police in the search for the missing body.
In the meantime, PDRRMC officers revealed the body of Mountain Province State Polytechnique College criminology student Monching Bakidan has not yet been found.
Bakidan, a native of Natonin, Mountain Province, was reported missing along the Chico River in Bontoc, August 18, after he went fishing with two other friends.
In a meeting of Natonin Mayor Matthew Chiawan with Bontoc community volunteers and the PNP, it was agreed Natonin volunteers will take over the search all the way to Tabuk, Kalinga along the stretch of the Chico River. (Gina Dizon)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 26, 2013.