“Meron pong natanaw na ilaw mga limang milya po ang layo (We spotted light 5 miles away),” said Junel Insigne, the captain of Fishing Boat Gem-Ver. He was telling reporters on Friday, June 14, aboard BRP Tarlac the story of their traumatic night at sea.
At that point, the 22 men were holding on to their sinking boat to save themselves. The Chinese fishing vessel left a hole in the boat’s rear, causing it to slowly sink from the back. Only a portion of the front remained above water, Insigne said. (READ: Chinese vessel sinks Philippine boat in West PH Sea ‘collision’)
“Pinagsagwan ko sa tao ko (I asked my people to row towards it),” said Insigne, referring to two of his men who used a small boat to row towards the light they saw.
The two men, Justine Pascual and JP Gordiones, were able to float by clinging to one of their small fishing boats.
There was no assurance that the light was coming from a friendly country’s vessel. It was also possible for it to move away while they were still rowing. Still, they rowed on.
“Hindi na namin iniisip ‘yung pagod, takot, gutom, parang wala na ang gutom namin kahit na malayo. Para sa pag-asa lang namin na mabuhay,” Gordiones narrated to Rappler in an interview.
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