In Camarines Sur, an ordeal worthy of ‘Survivor’By Juan Escandor Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
PILI, Camarines Sur—Theirs is a story worthy of the international reality TV show “Survivor” that is currently being shot in the province.
Fishermen Jerry Broncano, 30, and Aurelio Añasco, 53, survived 22 days at sea after their boat drifted more than 800 kilometers after it ran out of fuel.
They set out to sea on May 31 from their hometown of Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, and found themselves 22 days later in Babuyan Claro, an island village in Calayan, Cagayan, more than 800 km away, where they were rescued on June 21.
How they kept themselves alive at sea would beat any survival story that would emerge from the reality TV series “Survivor.”
The two fishermen, narrating their ordeal to Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr., said they ate moss, floating pieces of wood and raw fish during the days they were at sea drifting on their boat aimlessly.
They even drank their own urine.
Añasco said they ignored a bad weather warning intending to return after a day to Lagonoy.
On June 1, however, strong winds buffeted their boat and sent it adrift. They knew they were being driven farther out to sea when they saw the mountains of Lagonoy disappear.
Without any potable water, the two fishermen tried to drink water from the sea but couldn’t bear its saltiness. So they did the unthinkable and drank their urine.
The rains offered a little relief. The two collected it and drank it instead.
When they drew near Cagayan, the two fishermen said other fishermen came to their rescue.
“I asked the fishermen where we were. They told me we were in the most remote part of northern Philippines so that in a day’s time we would be in Taiwan,” said Añasco.
The moment he set foot on land again, Añasco recalled uttering only “Oh my God, my Lord. Thank you for a second life.”
The fishermen’s family refused to stop searching for them even if all hope seemed to fade.
On June 21, the good news came. Disaster officials of the province got a call from the Coast Guard that the two missing Lagonoy fishermen had been found in Babuyan Claro.
Governor Villafuerte said disaster officials contacted Babuyan Claro tribal chieftain Crusaldo Rosales and Barangay Capt. Alberto Dican who reported that the two fishermen were with them.
Villafuerte said arrangements were made with the Office of Civil Defense in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, to transport Añasco and Broncano back to Camarines Sur. The provincial government gave help, including psycho-social therapy, to the fishermen and their families.