CAMOTES SEA TRAGEDY
As search and retrieval efforts continue for the three missing children-passengers of the motorized banca which capsized on the seawaters of Camotes, assistance for the survivors and those who perished is now being prepared by the provincial government.
The survivors of the capsized M/V Habagat-R were brought to the port of Danao last night by the province, where they will board a sea vessel back to Camotes.
“We already made an arrangement with Jomalia Shipping. We’re also conducting stress debriefing among the survivors. If some of them are still traumatized by the incident, and cannot dare to get on board the ship, we may have to reschedule,” said Marivic Garces, chief of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).
She said the provincial government will extend P10,000 financial assistance to the family of Andrea Gonzaga, 2, and her mother, Nerissa, 30, both of whom drowned. Capitol will likewise pay for the burial of the mother and child.
Each of the 15 survivors will be given P5,000. The survivors were identified as Jordan Gonzaga, 18; Edward Jaime, 16; Rowena Peroso, 29; Margie Gonzaga, 24; Jucemar Gonzaga, 12; Sherlie Miao, 49; Mark Gonzaga, 16; Judith Palomar, 47; Bonifacia Gonzaga, 57; Jeylo Palomar, 13; Vitaliana Sampan, 77; Angelica De Leon, 13; Danny De Leon Sr., 45; Elena Sumalinog, 50; and boat captain Romar Hermosilla, 51.
Relief packs were distributed to the victims.
The children Carel Palomar, nine; Andria Miao, two, and Kevin Gonzaga four, are still missing.
A thanksgiving Mass was held at the City Social Welfare Services (CSWS) office in Mandaue City, officiated by Msgr. Danny Sanico, parish priest of the National Shrine of St. Joseph.
Acting Mandaue City Mayor Carlo Fortuna sponsored the Mass which he felt, was needed by the survivors.
“Any service we can extend were given to them such providing their meals, some clothing, medications they needed and temporary shelter,” said Fortuna.
During his homily Msgr. Sanico urged the survivors to strengthen their faith in God despite the tragedy.
“Ang huna-huna sa Dios di gyud nato masabot, mao nga ipabilin ug lig-onon lang gyud nato ang ang atong pagtuo niya kay kabahin lang kini sa mga pagsulay sa atong pagtuo,” said Sanico. (We cannot really comprehend God’s thoughts, that is why we will strengthen our faith in Him because this is part of the challenges of our faith).
Jose Gonzaga, 54, of Barangay Sta. Cruz, San Francisco, Camotes, led his family and relatives composed of fourteen individuals, nine (9) of them were children, the youngest of them a three-month old baby girl.
He said they were bound for Barangay Luyang in Carmen town to celebrate the fiesta of the Señor Sto. Niño with their relatives.
“Basta pista sa Luyang, permi gyud mi moadto kay naa man mi mga paryente didto, unya kasagaran magtampo-tampo ra mi para gasolina sa pumpboat,” said Gonzaga. (When Luyang celebrates its fiesta, we always go. We just contribute money to pay for the gasoline for the pumpboat).
It was around 6 a.m. last Tuesday when they sailed from Carmen going to Camotes.
“Mga upat nalang siguro ka kilometro gikan sa baybayon, gihapak mi og tulo ka mga dagko nga bawud dayon tikyaub sa bangka,” said Gonzaga.
(Around four kilometers from the shore, we were hit by three big waves causing our motorboat to capsize).
It was his daughter in law and grandchild who were found dead.
Margie Gonzaga, 22, held on to her three month old baby Princess Farrah, even when she was submerged in the water, before she and her baby were rescued by some male passengers who put them at the inverted hull of the motorbanca.
Judith Palomar, 47, brought her three children with her: Jinky, 6, Carel, 9 and Jeyco, 12.
When the motorbanca capsized, she first found Jinky inside a space of the capsized motorbanca’s hull. She found Jinky under the motorbanca and got her out of the water, unto the floating pumpboat. She also found Jeyco already on top of the hull.
She looked around for Carel but could not see him.
“Nagsige nalang ko og hilak nga nagkupot sa akong mga anak ug nagtongtong sa nabali nga bangka, gusto ko nga mosawom aron maoy mangita pero ila kung gipugngan,” said Judith.
Melissa Miao, 23, of Barangay Sonog was not among the passengers of M/V Habagat-R, but she was the mother of Andrea Miao, who will be turning two on February 18.
She works at a food house in Mandaue City and planned to go home on the 17th to celebrate Andrea’s birthday.
Meanwhile PO2 Rodulf Alain Beronelao of the PCG Cebu said the capsized pumpboat was not registered with their office.
He said they will summon the pumpboat captain for questioning.
The pumpboat departed from Carmen last Tuesday bound for Barangay Tulang Dako in Camotes Island, with 31 passengers and two crew members.
He said there was no gale warning so maybe the waves were due to the northeast monsoon.