ILOILO CITY—Primitivo Canete and Rizal Rico are struggling to comprehend and accept their loss.
“I cannot bring them back. I have to accept their fate even if it is too painful for me,” said Primitivo, 40.
“This has already happened. I cannot do anything anymore,” said Rizal, 30, a fisherman.
Both men each lost three children when the motorboat Clien, carrying 15 persons, capsized in the waters off Concepcion town in Iloilo on Saturday.
Vincent Aportadera, municipal disaster risk reduction management officer of Concepcion, said at least seven died in the sinking—Primitivo’s three children Baby Boy Canete, month old; Paolo, 9; and daughter Jennia, 8; Rizal’s children Justine, 4; Redan, 2; and Richelle, 6; and Aurea Rico, 72.
“Our baby still does not have a name,” said Primitivo. He said the baby’s baptism was supposed to be next year in May in time for the village fiesta.
Eight other passengers survived after nearly 24 hours in the water, said Lt. Cmdr. Dominador Senador III, Iloilo Coast Guard station commander.
Baby Boy Canete, Justine Rico and Redan Rico were declared dead on arrival on Sunday at Jesus M. Colmenares Memorial District Hospital in the neighboring town of Balasan while Jennia Canete died on Monday.
The remains of Paolo and Richelle were recovered by fishermen around noon on Monday near Higantes Island in Carles town.
The victims, all residents of the island-barangay of Salvacion, were on their way home after staying overnight in Barangay (village) Tambilaza for a fiesta when the boat was hit by huge waves and strong winds around 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to Senador.
Concepcion, about 100 kilometers northeast of Iloilo City, was among the areas under Storm Signal No. 1 due to Tropical Storm “Gorio.”
“Several of the passengers panicked and the boat capsized,” Senador said.
He said the victims clung to the capsized boat and tied their bodies to the vessel to avoid being carried away by the water current.
“My wife said they held on tight to the boat but they were continuously being hit by big waves and the others were carried by the current. They had no water and food,” Rizal said.
The victims were plucked out from the waters on Sunday at 1 p.m. after two fishermen saw them in the waters of Barangay Buaya in neighboring Carles town. It was only then that the Coast Guard and other civil agencies were alerted.
Rizal, who was fishing when the accident happened, said he went to Tambilaza on Sunday to look for his family when he learned that other residents who also went there had already returned home.
Primitivo, working in a quarry in Capiz when the accident happened, rushed to the hospital on Sunday evening.
Senador said the fatalities could have died due to prolonged exposure to seawater and hypothermia.