AGOO, La Union — A jubilant reunion for families at the Agoo Municipal Hall June 26 ensued as 12 of 23 fishermen who survived a five-day ordeal at sea due to gusty winds from typhoon Frank, come home.
REUNITED. After four days at sea, fishermen are reunited with their families at the Agoo Municipal Hall. Photo by Joan Diaz/NORDIS
They were the last batch rescued from the total 23 fishermen missing since June 22, when typhoon Frank hit La Union.
On June 24, 11 fisherfolk were also rescued at Pilar, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur. They were given immediate medical attention at the Sta. Lucia Community Hospital.
Meanwhile, residents of San Sebastian, San Vicente in Ilocos Sur were also able to help the over-fatigued fishermen they found in their coastal area. They were rushed to the Gabriela Silang Provincial Hospital in Vigan where they stayed overnight to rest, after being rescued at around 5:00 P.M. June 25.
Both groups were airlifted to Agoo by two choppers from the Philippine Air Force. They were accompanied by ex-Mayor Franny Eriguel and 1st District Board Member Vicky Aragon.
Retelling the sea mishap
“Siguro nu naabutan kami pay ti maysa a rabii idiay taaw, natay kami-n. Grabe ti bannog ken bisin. Agkakapsot kami aminen,” (Had we waited another night at sea, we are a goner. The fatigue and hunger is terrible. We are all exhausted.) Erwin Cachuela said.
“Agpapatianod laengen diay bilog mi ta grabe ti pigsa ti angin ken dalluyon.Intali mi ti bagbagi mi idiay bilog mi tapno haan kami a masina-sina ken lumned. Nu adda matan-awan mi a daga, pay-yapay kami laengen a pay-yapay bareng adda makakita ken umarayat a tumulong,” he narrated. “Adda pay nasabat mi a commerial fishing vessel dagiti Taiwanese ngem di da kayat a tumulong.” (We just allowed the boat to be swayed by strong winds and current. We tied ourselves on the boat to remain intact and afloat. Everytime we get near a shore, we kept waving hoping we get help. We even met a Taiwanese commercial fishing vessel, but it refused to rescue us.)
“Nakita mi dagiti dua nga helicopter nga agrik-rikus idiay tangatang idi naminsan ngem saan da kami siguro a makita uray nu anya ikasta mi nga agpayapay,” (We saw the two helicopters hovering over the are, but these did not notice us despite incessant waving.) he added. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) provided two choppers for the search and rescue operations.
The search and rescue operations were jointly conducted by the Local Government of Agoo, the Philippine National Police-Provincial and Regional Offices, PAF, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coastguard, and the Philippine National Red Cross.
Late afternoon of June 23 residents from Darigayos in Luna town sent reports that some fishermen were spotted in the sea. Due to limitations — the strong winds and waves at that time, search operations were scheduled the next day with the different concerned agencies coordinating.
Eight motorized bancas from the coastal barangays of Agoo proceeded to Darigayos the next day to help in the search operations.
The fishermen are from the coastal barangays of San Nicholas West, Baluarte, San Isidro, San Juan, and San Julian, all in Agoo. The first group rescued include Julieto Sarmiento, Rodel Bacalan, Benito Sarmiento, Carlos Ofiana, Vicente Ofiana, William Lagleva, Noel Rulloda, Carlos Soriano, Macmac Celestino, Jose Ninelga, and Roland Cadina .
The second group rescued at San Vicente, Ilocos Sur are Lumer Garcia, MIcheal Garcia, Andy Domondon, Bobby Ofiana, Amado Fangonilo, Salvador Supsupin, Pepito Albay, JR Supsupin, Fernan Hugo, Roberto Eslao, Boy Estacio, and Erwin Cachela.
“The agony and depression of the family members are great,” according to Mayor Sandra Eriguel. “We have to counsel them, pray with them and provide them with moral support that their loved ones are still alive,” she added.
Still crying, with her two children in tow, the wife of Fernan Hugo said, “Pagarup mi natay dan ta lima metten nga aldaw. Kaasi ni Apo ken tibker pakinakem da, sibibiag da latta. Palalo ragsak mi.” (We thought they all died because five days has passed. With God’s mercy and their determination, they survived. We are so happy.)
A thanksgiving mass, with Mayor Eriguel joining the fishermen, their families and residents , was said for them at San Nicholas West, Agoo. # JDiaz