Today’s Guest Column is again from Jason Dance. This is Jason’s second guest article on the LiP site. Thanks again, Jason for your effort!
This article is more about remembering than to forget. For those of you in the Philippines, June 22nd 2008 probably means something to you; if it doesn’t ring any bells than you probably did not know that a passenger class ship sank on that bleak day. I will describe to you my feelings of this happening and that I saw the ship 2 days before it sank!
My wife and I were going to Samar for our honeymoon; unfortunately, it was cut short by a typhoon. I know what a typhoon is and I know first hand the amount of damage it can do. Usual damages mostly occur on land infrastructures or agricultural lands. However, now and then life is lost to mother-nature. We left our house on Mactan Island towards the port of Cebu. While we were on the shuttle bus we saw an enormous ship ready to leave. I had noticed the name and told my wife, “Princess of the Stars, who names these ships?” She gave a small laugh and told me the ship was leaving for Manila. When I thought about it I didn’t think much of it as it was just another ship. I already had some weird feelings embarking on a ship. Anna assured me that the chances a ship would sink are minimal. I shrugged it off and off we were. We were well aware that there might be a typhoon, but we took our chances to leave Cebu for some much need time together.
Once we reached Ormoc Leyte, we knew rain was coming. We didn’t mind as much because we were together and newlywed from June 5th 2008. We did our things and travelled a bit. After returning from Sto.Nino, we went to an internet café to check our emails. As soon as we reached the café Anna was flooded by text messages, but that wasn’t new. I opened my email account and I was seeing over 20+ emails of “Are you ok? Are you alive? ” It hit me that something happened in the Philippines and we didn’t know about it. It must have been big for my family to call Anna’s house. We quickly learned that a ship had sunk 2 days after we left Cebu. We were more surprised to hear that it was the ship we previously saw in Cebu Princess of the Stars! After talking about a bit with her, I never really thought that we could have been on that ship. Family and friends were relieved to know that we were still kicking and coming back home.
Once we were back in Cebu from another passenger ship (I wasn’t too happy taking the ship) we listened to the news and got much more information on the situation. We couldn’t believe that the coast guard and even more the Captain of the ship departed from port knowing full well a Typhoon was on its way! My tatay and I talked about it while we drank and came to the conclusion that it’s always about money. If the boat is late, it cannot take other passengers to go somewhere else. This was only our opinion because the owner of the ship liner has loads of money, but has been on the deep end of the stick many times. The end result in pure insanity was the loss of over 700 lives and only a miniscule 32 peoples. I know that the total is more than 700 because they gradually found more and more bodies washing up to shore. Relief efforts were there but the in my opinion did not seem enough. However, many people including myself understand that the weather had a huge impact on rescue efforts. As I saw family members grieve on television; others were infuriated at the lack of respect and compensation they would receive for lives that irreplaceable.
I was thinking about this incident recently and I wanted to express it in my own words. It also got me thinking that our lives are so very fragile. We spend our lives acquiring materials only to see them given away once were gone and most probably sold away. We squabble about everything we dislike or people we hate. Learn to love your family, friends and others around you. You never know what might happen to people you know you love.
As for me, all I have left to say is…I love you Anna Lou and my prayers will always go to those left behind by the storm!