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Aug 05 19, 4:14 pm

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UAE-based Filipina survivor of Iloilo-Guimaras Strait tragedy recalls ordeal

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, News

Aug. 05, 19 | 4:14 pm

The survivors of the three ill-fated motor bancas figured in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait tragedy last weekend recall what really transpired in the horrific ordeal that killed 28 people.

A UAE-based Filipina teacher and survivor of the sea incident, Catherine Joy Santillan, shared that there were 10 of them who happily left Guimaras island.

“Nung nasa Guimaras po kami makulimlim po pero hindi na po naulan. Yung alon medyo hindi naman ganun kalaki,” she said in a video interview with RMN Iloilo.

It was already cloudy before they left Guimaras, but the boatmen said there was no indication that monsoon rain would come down heavily. Or that’s what they thought.

READ ALSO: 3 Filipino teachers from UAE among dead in tragic sea mishap in PH

Near the port of Iloilo City, wind and rain began to slash their banca.

As the sea battered them, the boatmen started to lower down the “trapal” or plastic curtain.

“Nung binaba na po yung trapal, doon na po lumakas yung ulan. Sa unang alon, doon na po tumagilid yung bangka namin,” Santillan recalled.

Everything happened in a blink of an eye, said Santillan, when a big wave hit their boat, causing it to capsize.

“Naging madilim na. Ako bumulusok sa ilalim ng dagat. Natandaan ko nakalunok na po ako ng maraming tubig pero inisip ko na hindi ako magpapanic. Sinara ko po bibig ko hanggang sa unti-unti akong lumutang,” she said.

Santillan could still hear the agony of her fellow passengers desperately calling for help.

Even her own life was in great peril–her neck was trapped in between planks of wood.

“Wala pong tutulong sa akin kundi sarili ko po. Kaya ang ginawa ko po kahit masakit pinilit ko po talaga gamitin yung leeg ko para i-push. Yung paa at kamay ko ginamit ko po para tanggalin. Hindi ko po alam kung paano ko po yun nagawa at kung saan ko po kinuha yung lakas pero nakawala po ako,” she said.

READ ALSO: Philippine Embassy in UAE to assist families of victims of Iloilo-Guimaras strait tragedy

But what kept Santillan alive was her will to survive for her family.

“Hindi po ako mamatay kung lalaban po ako,” she said.

Then help came for them. Rescuers made a hole on the boat.

Seven of them, including Santillan, survived but the lives of their three friends were taken by the cruel incident.

The UAE-based Filipina is waiting for the remains of their three co-teachers to be processed.

Soon they will leave the place, but her thoughts remain with the victims and every second gone without answers from authorities about what really transpired is a second too long.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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