WHILE trying to save other people from drowning, Rudyard Payusan lost a foot.
He had just attached a thick rope from their cargo ship to a capsized motor banca, when the rope caught his right foot and cut it off.
“Deretso nipiyong na lang ko, nabantayan gyud nako naputol na akong tiil (I closed my eyes. I felt it happen),” the chief mate of cargo ship LCT Crescent recalled.
It wasn’t what the 48-year-old had planned for his weekend.
His paid vacation leave had been scheduled to start last Friday but the management of his company, Golden Bridge Shipping Inc., asked him to stay for one more day.
They couldn’t find anyone to temporarily replace him as the ship’s chief mate.
If it weren’t for that, Payusan said, he would have been with his two daughters in their home in Naawan, Misamis Oriental yesterday. They exchanged sobs in a phone conversation instead.
“Naaksidente ko, ayaw lang pahibaw-a inyong Mama (I’ve been in an accident. Don’t tell your mother),” Payusan recalled telling his eldest daughter on the phone.
Payusan has two daughters, 19 and 22, both enrolled in education courses. His wife is in Kuwait, toiling as a domestic helper.
He remembered trying to stop his daughter’s sobs by telling her: “Ayaw lang paghunahuna nako kay mangingkamot lang ko’s akong kaugalingon (Don’t think about me. I’ll take care of myself).”
Payusan was the one who first saw the capsized motor banca through a telescope from their ship.
He said he asked for permission from the ship’s captain to order his cadets to throw life rafts for the stranded passengers of the capsized banca.
Their ship, however, could not get close to the banca because of the large waves.
“Among barko sige nag atras bisag nagsungo kay kusog man moaway ang balod (Our ship kept being pushed back by the waves even if we tried hard to approach),” Payusan told Sun.Star Cebu.
Minutes later, Payusan’s cadets saw him leap off the ship, a thick rope in his hand.
“Ako’y nilangoy gyud. Naanad man kog dagat, ako gyu’y nangunay (I did not command my cadets. I leapt into the water myself),” he said.
Payusan said he thought of all the elderly passengers or children who might be onboard. So he jumped. (At least five of the 27 passengers and crew of the capsized banca were in their 60s. One child was onboard.)
Jumping into peril to save others is something Payusan has done before. He used to regularly help fellow fishermen whose boats had capsized.
After graduating with a marine transportation degree in the 1990s, Payusan said he became a fisherman in Initao, Misamis Oriental before he decided to board a ship.
Yesterday, as he felt the rope cut his right foot off, he immediately asked for help from the motor banca’s passengers.
Some older men helped wrap his right leg with clothes, while the other passengers and crew stared at him.
“Nagsige na kog pangyawyaw kay di na man manglihok, tulala na man ngari nako (I kept yelling at them so they would move. They were shocked by what happened to my foot),” he said.
Arnold Arada, the head watchman of Mv Filipinas Dinagat, saw Payusan jump into the water to try to rescue the banca’s passengers. He was a hero for doing that, Arada said.
Once back ashore, Payusan underwent a pre-surgery examination late yesterday afternoon in the St. Vincent General Hospital in Cebu City. The result would help doctors decide whether or not they need to amputate his leg.
Payusan said he was praying hard that a below-the-knee amputation would not be necessary.
As of yesterday, he said, he still had to figure out how he was going to pay his hospital bills.
“Nanlimbasog pod tawn ko nga malibre sa akong kaugalingon ato kay naa gud ko’y mga anak intawon, wa pa kahuman og eskwela (I struggled to keep breathing and thought about my daughters, who still have to finish their studies),” he said.