MANILA, Philippines-Three Filipino fishermen were rescued by the Taiwanese Coast Guard crew who found them drifting on a lifeboat for several days after their fishing boats capsized 37 nautical miles south of Taiwan last July 15.
The three fishermen, Ronald Dumaran, Gener Mendoza, and Edwin Zoilo, the boat captain, went out to sea on July 15 and encountered heavy rains and strong waves whipped up by a storm that overturned their boat on the 17th.
Zoilo, during an interview with reporters at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), recounted how they spent five days and four nights drifting on their capsized boat before they were rescued by the Taiwanese Coast Guard on July 21.
“Kung ano mangyari sa amin, kung anong makain namin na madaanan sa laot, paghati-hatian naming. Yung isang pirasong ‘kapikon’, parang alimasag, pinagtatlo namin. Hinati ko ng tatlo, walang lamangan,” he said.
(Whatever happened to us, what we found floating along, we divided among ourselves equally. We caught a crab and divided it into three.)
“Nung umulan, sumahod din ako ng tubig, nakasahod ako ng mga tatlong kutsara. Binigyan ko. O, tag iisang kutsara tayo. Syempre, hati hati hanggang sa ayun. Buhay pa rin kami hanggang ngayon,” Zoilo added.
(When it rained, we collected the water and managed to get three spoonful which we divided among ourselves. It helped us survive.)
Dumaran said that several commercial vessels saw them but did not anchor to rescue them.
“Simula nung pangalawang araw, hindi lang kinseng barko ang talagang nagiliran kami o malapit na kami masentro tapos parang umiwas na sila. (starting from the second day, no less than 15 boats passed by us or were directly heading for us, but they would not sail near us)” he said.
“Siguro nag-aalangan siya na lapitan kami kasi baka iniisip nila na pirata kami (maybe they were hesitant to go near us on the thought we might be pirates),” Dumaran added.
MECO chairman Amadeo Perez told reporters that “they’re going back to their respective residence in Cagayan and Zambales. And we are providing them with a little help. Financial assistance. We will submit their names to DSWD.”
“We received explicit orders from President Benigno Aquino III, [after] he heard about these fishermen who went missing and were rescued by the Taiwanese Coast Guard, to attend to their needs. That’s why we processed their papers and all their expenses were shouldered by MECO,” Perez said.
He further thanked the Taiwanese authorities for extending help despite the recent incident between the two countries where one Taiwanese fisherman was killed.
“We are grateful to the coast guard and the government of Taiwan for setting aside what happened in the past and giving full support to our fishermen they rescued,” Perez said.
A body was found floating near the area where the three were rescued. He said it will be cremated and brought back to the Philippines on Friday.