Good Samaritans aid of travelers stranded by typhoon at ports
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Christmas has taken a deeper meaning for travelers who failed to be home for Christmas because Typhoon “Ursula” (international name: Phanfone) held them up at ports across the central Philippines.
Good Samaritans made Christmas more memorable for young couple Reynan Aparre, 20, and Jennifer Alegre, 19, who were traveling with their 3-week-old daughter.
Grace Dagangon-Macarayan traveled to a southern town, about 70 kilometers from Cebu City to get a boat that would take her home to her four young sons in time for Christmas. But she turned back because the Coast Guard had shut down shipping as Ursula blew in.
Aparre quit his job as a construction worker just before Christmas because he wanted to start a new life in his hometown in Inabanga, Bohol province, with his girlfriend, Alegre, and their new baby.
They left their boarding house on Dec. 23 and headed to the port, where they would take a motorboat to Getafe town and then to Inabanga. But they found the port shuttered.
Shelter at chapel
Without money to rent a room while waiting the typhoon out, they sought shelter at the chapel inside the Associated Labor Union compound near the port.
It was raining. Alegre laid her baby on a small table used for Mass and she and Aparre sat on Monobloc chairs.
Concerned about the safety of the infant, managers of radio station dyLA took the family to their newsroom on the second floor of the Mariners Court at the labor union’s compound.
Employees at the radio station gave the couple corned beef and eggs for dinner, which they bought from a nearby store.
At midnight, the family slept while the dyLA news team covered the typhoon.
Aparre said they were grateful for the help extended to them by people they didn’t know.
Aside from dyLA, a listener visited them and gave them P1,000.
A family from Minglanilla town also donated money and clothes for the baby.
The radio station’s staff gave them food before they left to take the boat on Wednesday.
“We would never forget this and our experience became meaningful because of what happened,” said Aparre, who planned to work as a fisherman in Inabanga.
He also planned to have baby baptized and later marry Alegre.
Macarayan, 38, a call center agent in Cebu City, was sad about failing to go home to Jagna town in Bohol for Christmas.
Macarayan said she terribly missed her four children. She said she called home and had a hard time explaining to her youngest why she could not come home.
“He was crying why I was not there. It broke my heart,” she said.
“This is the saddest Christmas I am away from my children,” Macarayan said.
Her husband is a seaman, and was away at work.
Like Macarayan, Gerwin Yudelmo traveled 18 hours on Tuesday from Cebu to spend Christmas with his family in Bohol.
When his trip was canceled, the 29-year-old call center agent said he wanted to cry but learned on Facebook later that there was a ferry in Argao town, Cebu, to Tagbilaran.
He and two friends went to Argao, stayed at the pier for hours until the Coast Guard cleared the ferry for departure at 4 p.m.
He said the trip was smooth, and there were no signs of a storm.
Yudelmo arrived at Tagbilaran Port at 7 p.m. and took a ride to Inabanga.
“No storm can stop me. No storm can break us,” he posted on Facebook. “Christmas is all about family.”
Elsewhere, travelers sat at ports on Christmas Day, waiting for Ursula to blow away.
Hugo Silva and Joan Guerreiro were tourists from Portugal who were stranded in Surigao City when the Coast Guard shuttered the port on Tuesday.
“We stayed here in the hopes that they would be able to get a boat to Siargao as soon as the boats are permitted to leave the port,” Silva said.
“This is our first time to visit Siargao. Unfortunately, we did not expect the situation could get this bad,” he said.
Siargao is a popular tourist destination in Surigao del Norte province.
Holiday at port
Joshua Noguerra, his wife, and their two children left Guiuan, Eastern Samar, on Sunday to celebrate Christmas in Siargao, but ended up observing the holiday at the port.
“It’s hard for my 2-year-old and 1-year-old. We slept here at the terminal and celebrated Christmas here,” Noguerra said on Wednesday. “It’s not the kind of Christmas we hoped for. Thanks to the port authorities, they gave us food.”
Their frustration ended at 1 p.m. on Wednesday when the Coast Guard cleared the vessels for departure.
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