Anything Under the Sun
The sinking of MV Don Juan (6)
Of the survivors, many lost a sister, a brother, a child, a father, a mother, a grandmother, a husband, a wife. Fortunately, there were families of three, four or five who were all saved. However, they were reunited days or even weeks after that tragic incident. They were rescued by different ships and brought to different places.
There was a mother in MV Don Florentina which brought her to Iloilo City. Her small daughter was at MV Tacloban City which brought her to Batangas City. More than a week later, they were united at a hospital in Iloilo City.
Unfortunately, too, entire families of three, four or five also perished. There were a father and a mother with their four children. They had gone to Manila to send off a fifth child going to the United States.
The most common explanation why members of the same family stuck it together through thick and thin is the strong Ilonggo family solidarity and loyalty. When they saw one of them die, they all decided to die together in the spirit of "one for all and all for one."
Many of the survivors attributed their good fortune to prayers. One man who rarely prayed, did pray so hard at that time. Another recited verses from the Bible. Still another returned to his cot to take his bag containing a statue of Santo Niño to which he clung in prayer during the tragedy. An old woman who did not know how to swim found herself miraculously floating on the sea. While praying, a floating corpse passed by. She clung to it for hours until she was rescued.
One of the missing persons was a survivor of the sinking of SS Corregidor in Manila Bay when it struck a mine at the outbreak of World War II in 1941 forty years ago. Yes, she was fortunate in SS Corregidor but not so in MV Don Juan.
By the way, many survivors refused to return their life vests to the ship's company. They wanted to keep them as stark souvenirs of that nightmare.
(To be continued)