'Very thankful': Dad reunites with family after passenger ship catches fire | Inquirer News

‘Very thankful’: Dad reunites with family after passenger ship catches fire

CEBU CITY — They may not have a grand Father’s Day celebration, but seeing all members of his family unscathed amid a fire that struck a passenger ship off Bohol town was all that matters.

“I’m very happy that we were all safe, including our children,” said Louie Jay Tolo in an interview.

The 22-year-old father could not contain his happiness after arriving safely with his family in Cebu City on Sunday, less than 12 hours since MV Esperanza Star caught fire off Panglao Island in Bohol.


Tolo, his 19-year-old live-in partner Russell Rose Baliquig, and their children Zion Asher, 1, and Gavin Asher, a week old, traveled from Lazi in Siquijor to Cebu via Tagbilaran for his work in a mini hotel in Liloan town, Cebu.


At 3:55 a.m. on Sunday, MV Esperanza Star owned by Kho Shipping Lines caught fire while sailing in the vicinity of Panglao.

READ: Fire hits vessel off Tagbilaran City port; 132 passengers, crewmen rescued

The vessel was supposed to dock at the Tagbilaran City Port at 4:30 a.m.

Dr. Anthony Damalerio, head of the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, told radio DYLA in an interview that the one-week-old kid was placed inside a piece of luggage by a crew member of the ship and thrown towards the sea where another crew member was waiting.

Tolo and Baliquig said they entrusted their two children to the crewmen of the vessel because it was so dark.

The couple, who reunited with their kids at the Trans Asia 19 vessel which assisted in the rescue effort, learned that their children were brought by the fishermen to the vessel.


“We were very thankful to all the crew and fishermen who helped us,” Baliquig said.

The young couple and their two kids, as well as the other passengers, were brought to Tagbilaran City Port terminal building where they were given food.

At 2 p.m., they were transported to Cebu City with the other survivors through an OceanJet vessel. They arrived in Cebu City at past 4 p.m.

Damalerio said all 72 passengers and 60 crew members of the ill-fated ship were rescued and accounted for.

Baliquig’s mother Christine Rose, in an interview, said Tolo went to Siquijor after Baliquig gave birth to their youngest child.

However, the husband had to return to Cebu for work. This time, he decided to bring his entire family to Cebu.

They boarded M/V Esperanza Star on Saturday night which would bring them to Cebu via Tagbilaran City.

“I tried to persuade them to delay their trip back to Cebu because it was raining at that time, but Tolo had to report for work,” Christine Rose said.

Ship catches fire

The PCG, in a report, said they received a distress alert from M/V Esperanza Star around 3:55 a.m. on Sunday, and rescuers immediately proceeded to the area to save the passengers and crew members of the ship.

Some passengers swam towards the port while others were rescued by fishing boats in the area, a Trans Asia vessel, and rescue boats from the PCG.

According to the PCG, MV Esperanza Star sailed at 4 p.m. on Saturday from Iligan City to Lazi, Siquijor before its final destination in Tagbilaran City.

The vessel, however, caught fire at the entrance of its engine room less than an hour before it was supposed to dock at the Tagbilaran City port.

Kho Shipping Lines thanked all those who rescued the passengers and crew members of the ill-fated ship.

“All crew members and passengers were immediately rescued to safety, being taken care of and all accounted for,” it said in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Sunday.

“Functional fire suppression system long installed at the vessel such as fire hydrants, sprinkling system, and others were immediately activated to put off fire and avert further damages to the vessel,” it added.

Kho Shipping Lines said M/V Esperanza Star will be replaced with M/V Cataingan this week so as not to hamper the flow of goods and passengers to people of Iligan City and Lazi, Siquijor.

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The PCG said it has yet to determine the cause of the fire and the cost of damage.

TAGS: Bohol, Cebu, ferry, Fire, Ship

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