Driver recovers from sea tragedy

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


THE sinking of the mv Princess of the Stars near the coast of Romblon was one of the biggest stories of 2008.

But for driver Jesus Gica, it is one tragic tale he hopes will never be repeated.

Gica, a driver for the Norkis Group of Companies in Mandaue City, was one of four Visayans who survived the accident that killed over 700 passengers and crew on June 21, 2008.

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Gica was traveling home with fellow drivers Rosel Cinco and Pio Saban and car painters Edwin dela Cerna and Atillano Cutanda that night.

Of the group, only he survived.

Gica, in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu, said that even after two years, the memory of the trip remains fresh in his mind.

Upon returning to his hometown in Barangay Opao in Mandaue City, he was welcomed by his family and co-workers eager to hear his story.

At first, life after the tragedy was hard, especially in dealing with the trauma, Gica said.

There were times he could not sleep.

He kept recalling how he clung to a piece of wood, wearing nothing but a life jacket, and floating aimlessly in the coastal area near Romblon after the ship capsized during a storm.

Gica survived because he drifted toward Burias Island in Masbate after five hours of being at sea.

Boat trips

Reliving those memories, Gica admitted he can’t help but be saddened by the death of his friends.

After the body of Edwin dela Cerna was immediately found after the accident, Gica was one of those who helped bury him in the former’s hometown in Ginatilan, Cebu.

Gica also had to deal with grieving families of his companions, who came to him for some closure.

It took a year before his life returned to a semblance of normalcy, and he could sleep soundly again.

As his job involves transporting the company’s vehicles to some cities outside Cebu, he had to adjust to boarding a boat again.

At first, he feared these trips, which his family, especially his wife Maria Morena, didn’t want him to take.

But after months of working outside Cebu, he eventually conquered his fears. He has been involved in delivering vehicles to Manila, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

“Swerte-swerte gyud to (I got lucky),” said Gica, reflecting on his survival.

On the second anniversary of the tragedy tomorrow, Gica plans to offer candles and prayers for those who died.

Driver recovers sea tragedy

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