"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Surviors conquered themselves

For 23-year-old Jose Mari Garbo and company, their training and experience as seafarers equipped them with the necessary skills that helped them survive the ordeal which they went through after their ferry Princess of the Stars capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon last Saturday.

Garbo, one of 10 seafarers who survived typhoon "Frank" over the weekend, was among the 28 passengers of the ill-fated ship who were treated at the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) head office in South Harbor, Manila.

"We (seamen) were more organized because we knew what to do. We knew how to balance. There were times that the raft would be forced to fold because it was being battered by the strong waves. We would then put our feet on the edge of the raft to keep it from folding," recalled Garbo of their experience in the lifeboat.

"Unlike other passengers who jumped into the sea at a high elevation, I decided to wait for the ship to get closer to the sea before I decided to jump because I remembered in the movie 'Titanic' that some of the passengers who jumped at a higher elevation hit the ship's railings. It was safer if I jumped closer to the sea," Garbo said.

Garbo shared that whenever their raft would be filled with sea and rainwater, they would use their shoes and plastic bags to remove the water, adding that this was necessary so their boat would not sink.

They spent 22 hours at sea before they finally saw land.

PNRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon commended the 10 seafarers and other survivors for their heroism.

"One by one they rescued other passengers and they helped each other get through the harrowing experience," Gordon said.

He added that the "wounds they (survivors) sustained were caused by their desire to survive. It was man against nature, men against themselves and in the end they conquered themselves in order to survive," he said.

Gordon said that despite the economic difficulty in the area, the residents gave the stranded passengers slippers, clothes and food.

"We took down their contact numbers. Hopefully, when we have returned home and have money we would be able to repay them for helping us," said Garbo.

Gordon said that he was supposed to join President Arroyo on her trip to the United States where he would discuss the Veterans Bill with US legislators.

But he decided to stay behind to attend to the victims of the passenger ship.

Philippine Star Headlines
Seafarers on ship: We knew what to do
By Evelyn Macairan
Wednesday, June 25, 2008


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