Quantcast
Latest Stories

Dreams drown with sinking ship

By

DEATHS IN THE FAMILY Members of the Villanueva family confirm that three of their five siblings were among the dead in the sinking of the MV St. Thomas Aquinas after colliding with a Sulpicio cargo vessel off Talisay City in Cebu. TONEE DESPOJO/CEBU DAILY NEWS

SURIGAO CITY—They boarded the ill-fated St. Thomas Aquinas with a bounty of dreams: a young woman meeting her American fiancé, two sisters headed for Singapore to become domestic workers, a young father looking for work in Manila and an elderly couple seeking respite from age-related diseases.

Except for the father and woman, these Surigaonon passengers met death instead in the dark waters off Cebu.

The septuagenarian couple were scheduled for medical exams in Cebu. Vicente Ancla Jr. was suffering from arthritis and hypertension, while his wife Conchita had lupus.

Two of their six children who work abroad had booked them for check-ups at a premier hospital.

A granddaughter, 21-year old Sarah Ancla, said she was supposed to be on the boat to assist her grandparents, but her “lola” insisted at the last minute that she stay.

“Perhaps I would have also been dead right now if not for my grandmother’s decision,” Sarah said.

Gulandrenas

The same fate befell Delia Gulandrena, 30, and her younger sister Pilar. They were bound for Manila to prepare for their departure to Singapore, where they have been contracted to work as housekeepers for two years, said Jenny Sumando, a classmate of Delia.

“See you in 2015!” was the last text she received from her classmate.

“We were texting each other and talked about life when she was on the ship with her sister. She said she was looking forward to see me in two years because their contract in Singapore was good for two years,” Sumando said.

The bodies of the Gulandrena sisters were among those retrieved by drivers from the sunken ship. They are expected to arrive anytime this week, Sumando said, based on her talk with their relatives.

And then there are the survivors.

Saligunhay

Jenalyn Saligunhay, 23, traveled to meet for the first time her American boyfriend in Manila, said her younger sister, Jackelyn.

She said her sister was able to call their parents to tell them she was OK and that she was being treated at a hospital in Cebu.

Jenalyn is not discouraged by the ordeal, her sister said. “She will still meet her beau after recovering at the hospital,”  Jackelyn said.

But the more vivid account of survival came from Sumando’s cousin, Alden, 22, who witnessed how the bow of the MV St. Thomas Aquinas submerged—with scores of passengers still clinging to it.

Alden, who was to look for a job in Manila, said he was on the upper deck at the time of the collision to watch a music band.

“We heard a loud bang and everything on the ship moved, as if an earthquake just hit us,” he recalled.

When he and other passengers peered on the side to inspect what caused the impact, Sumando said he saw the bow the Sulpicio cargo ship pierced their ship near the portside.

The crew, he said, advised the panicking passengers to go back to their cabins. This was a mistake, Sumando said.

“They thought the ship would not go down that quick; they should have directed the passengers, especially those on lower decks, to head to the upper decks,” he said.

By his calculation, Sumando said the ship sank in just “under 10 minutes.”

“I saw mothers holding their babies and elderly men and women panicking, not knowing what to do or where to go,” he said.

He also saw passengers jumping out of the ship but instead hurt themselves when they hit parts of the ship.

Sumando said the sinking accelerated when the Sulpicio ship pulled back to separate from the 2GO vessel. When it did, he recalled seeing a gaping hole through which seawater immediately rushed in.

Seconds before the two vessels were finally apart, Sumando said he saw a few 2GO crew members leaping into the other ship for safety. Some, he said, helped in distributing life jackets and in assisting passengers.

Saving himself

The next part was tricky: saving himself.

Equipped with a life jacket, Sumando said he ran to the stern and slid into the waters with a rope. By that time, he said the ship’s rear was already tilting.

He said he saw the ship disappear bit by bit, with people clinging for their lives.

A newly married man, Sumando said the thoughts of his wife and their 5-month old baby kept him looking for ways to survive.

Thirty minutes later, he said he was picked up by one of the 2GO rubber boats and brought by a Bohol-bound boat to the Cebu pier.

Sumando arrived here from Cebu on Monday. He said 2GO took care of his plane ticket and gave him P5,000 as “partial financial assistance.”

However, he said he might join other survivors and relatives should they seek damages both from 2GO and Sulpicio.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: News , Regions , sea disasters , ship tragedy




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement