Survivors narrate ordeal to stay alive-A A +A
Monday, August 19, 2013
RENATO Diaz planned to teach his four-year-old son Joshua how to cut hair when the boy is old enough to handle scissors and comb.
“So he will earn his own money,” said the 32-year-old father.
The boy drowned in last Friday’s tragedy.
Renato, his wife Rosie, 32, Donna Rose, 8, and Sarah, 2, survived. They were passengers of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and they were bound for Manila when it happened.
Before the mishap, Renato said his family was in the economy class section, watching a TV soap opera.
After the show, they heard something hit their boat, removing them from their seats.
This was followed by an announcement on the public address system telling the passengers to keep calm as the ship got stuck in shallow waters.
Aquinas was nearing Pier 4 where it was supposed to make a stopover before proceeding to Manila.
Renato asked a fellow passenger what really happened to the ship. The latter replied a cargo ship hit them.
The lights of Aquinas later went out and passengers started shouting.
“I opened my flashlight and grabbed life vests for my family,” he said.
They went to the entrance and a stampede ensued. Rosie and Sarah got separated from them.
Renato said he did not carry Joshua and Donna with him because he was afraid they might hit the ship’s steel body.
He jumped first and shouted at a male passenger to hurl his children towards him.
But the man left the children.
“I could not understand what I felt that time,” he said.
When they were already rescued, Donna told her father she egged Joshua to jump with her. But the boy was afraid to jump.
Rosie and Sarah went to the uppermost deck. The mother held on to a rope.
The list of survivors of last Friday’s ship collision was met with mixed reactions at the office of 2Go in Pier 4.
Some jumped for joy after seeing the names of their relatives in the list. Others, whose relatives and loved ones were not in the list, wept.
Brilliant Jewel Tuson, 18, was elated when she saw her friend’s name on the list. Her friend’s name is Connie Morado, 19.
After learning that her friend is among the survivors, she immediately went inside the office.
She said Morado boarded the m/v St. Thomas Aquinas last Friday and texted her that the boat was approaching the pier.
“Ni-text siya nako nga Cebu na siya ug hapit na modunggo ang barko,” said Tuson.
Morado was with her brother. They were supposed to visit a friend in Cebu.
“She told us the name of the vessel. That was why we were shocked when the vessel sank and we lost contact with her,” Tuson told Sun.Star Cebu.
But others were not as lucky.
A woman didn’t find the name of her sister, Mariz Rose Dandan, 25, on the list of survivors.
Emmy, 39, said she expected Dandan to arrive in Manila last Saturday.
“She was supposed to visit me in Manila. We were shocked to hear the news. We also lost contact with her,” said Emmy.
She said Dandan was still able to call her last Friday night, telling her the boat she was on was having a problem.
“My sister calmed down after one of the crew members told her not to panic. So I thought everything was okay,” Emmy said.
Emmy flew from Manila to Cebu last Saturday evening hoping to find her sister alive. But her sister is not on the survivors’ list.
She was advised by one of the personnel to check the city’s funeral homes.
Emmy said 2Go posted numbers to call but these couldn’t be reached.
Emmy said she feared her sister may not have survived the incident since she does not know how to swim.
“Baka nagtago lang yun sa cabin hanggang malunod ang barko (Maybe she stayed inside her cabin when the boat sank). Even sa swimming pool nga doon yun naliligo sa kids section. It is unlikely for her to jump, but we hope she is alive,” said Emmy.
Lori Claud, another survivor, said she remembered her husband Lito telling her to jump from the vessel after it started to tilt. She jumped but she did not notice if her husband followed her.
That was the last time she saw her husband, who remained missing as of yesterday.
Meanwhile, social worker Grace Subong said they have conducted stress debriefing on
She said four social workers were assigned at the 2Go pre-departure terminal in Pier 4, while two others were assigned in a hotel where the other survivors were billeted.
Three social workers and five support staff went to two private hospitals in Cebu City to counsel 37 survivors, said Subong.
The survivors were given clothes, soap, toothpaste and other items for hygiene.
Subong said they give counsel to reduce psychological problems that the survivors might be suffering.
A fellow social worker told Subong a 70-year-old survivor felt guilty for failing to grab a life vest for her husband.
“She was bothered that she was the only one who survived. But after the counseling, she somehow recovered from the guilt,” said Subong.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2013.