Guimaras marks 1 year of sea tragedy

GUIMARASNONS marked the anniversary of the biggest sea tragedy in the island's history on August 3 with "Pagbangon," a virtual ceremony in memory of those who died.

Exactly a year ago, three motorbancas -- MB Kezziah 2, MB Chi-Chi and MB Jenny Vince -- capsized hours apart at Iloilo-Guimaras Strait and claimed 31 lives.

Officials of the Provincial Government of Guimaras and the family of the victims and survivors gathered together Monday, August 3, to commemorate the significant event that will be forever stamped in the minds and hearts of the Guimarasnons.

Governor Samuel Gumarin said the sea mishap is a wake-up call for Guimarasnons to be resilient.

He added that remembering this tragic day is a way to convey the aspiration of everyone to rise from the tragedy and to restore the former vitality of Guimaras.

"As we remember the lost lives, this is also one wake-up call for each one of us to be more resilient and strong in facing the challenges in life. Samtang kita padayon sa pagdumdom sang mga kabuhi nga nadula, ini nga hitbao ang parte sang aton maragtas," he said.

"If you remember last year, our inspirational battlecry was 'Bangon Guimaras' and this I want the resiliency component be present. So aside from the recovery and rehabilitation, we all simultaneously do for the sea tragedy, Covid-19 and the oil spill which are still yet to be underway, the goal is to rise up and be the Guimaras we want to be again," he added.

The ceremony began with a virtual mass officiated by Rev. Jose Alex Serania, as the Covid-19 pandemic prohibits activities with mass gatherings.

It was followed by the offering of prayers and flowers at the Jordan Wharf and at the McArthur's Wharf in the Municipality of Buenavista.

The disaster dealt a huge impact on the economy of the province, particularly on the tourism industry, according to Gumarin, as the Department of Transportation imposed limitations on the operation of the motor bancas, which affected the livelihood of those working at the transport sector both for the land and sea.

"The said tragedy gravely affected our socio-economic status in the province. Our agri-tourism industry suffered from massive decrease in arrivals and receipts. We have experienced one of the most catastrophic transportation disruption," Gumarin said.

Trips of wooden-hull motor bancas plying the Guimaras-Iloilo route vice versa remain irregular.

Vice Governor John Edward Gando assured that trips of motor bancas can return to normal when the modernized vessels arrive.

He lauded the motor banca associations in the province for heeding the call of the National Government for modernization of the motor bancas plying the Guimaras-Iloilo route vice versa.

"While our present travels are bound by restriction implementations such as from sunrise to sunset only, 1.5-meter wavelength, certain speed of wave among others, these will all be recalled and revoked and will never be applicable to modernized vessels. Sa malip-ot nga pulong, ang ini nga mga kondisyon espaga dulaon na kun bag-o na ang aton nga sakayan pandagat kay ini nga mga kondisyones para lamang sa mga motor banca nga aton ginasakyan sa subong," Gando said.

The province's goal to rise from the impact of the tragedy met a setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, officials of the Provincial Government of Guimaras are optimistic that the province can hurdle these challenges.

Guimaras Lone District Representative Ma. Lucille L. Nava said these misfortunes will drive the officials of the province to create measures to protect the lives of the Guimarasnons.

"We can only pray that this could never happen again. But if and definitely it does, we will be ready, we will be prepared, we will be equipped with lessons we learn from the past and we will face life's challenges fully armed and with only one goal in mind: to protect the lives of our people the best way we can. We will always rise above all these challenges and come out even stronger, wiser and better," she said. (PR)


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