Its nice that typhoon Frank has left. Having nothing in mind, I took a pillow and laid-back before my TV last night. I decided to pass time watching (not my program) until late evening news but I dozed off. It was around midnight when I woke up. I found everything strange. I was seeing Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez in my screen in quite unfamiliar settings. Looking at the wall clock, I realized I missed news.
So, ABS-CBN has a new TV program? It’s called HARAPAN, translated: Face to face, Point blank, Frankly, No holds barred, by Failon and Sanchez. Ted Failon – wala kang masabi dyan – nothing to say regarding him. That’s Filipino way short of saying that a person is good. I don’t like Korina in TV. I am not amused by superstitions and Guinness-like characters, and sometimes to me taste like Pinoy racisms, which are what her show RATED K seems to be promoting. I like her better in her radio talk-show , though, where she is also paired with Ted Failon.
The talks in Harapan were about a disaster at sea. So, we had another sea disaster involving Sulpicio Lines during the storm that hit the country Saturday and Sunday – June 22, 2008. Another one! And Sulpicio Lines again! This time it’s MV Princess of the Stars that sank somewhere off Romblon island. This reminds us again of some major disasters:
The MV Doña Paz, (Sulpicio Lines): It roasted or stewed and drowned 3,000 4,000 souls at sea when it collided with a petrol tanker named MT Vector off the waters of Batangas. That was worse than the great Titanic disaster by all terms! I remember taking that big ferry three times before, between Manila and Tacloban.
The MV ( was it the Marilyn ) of Sulpicio Lines (?) that lost hundreds of passengers, or was it thousand, when it sailed through a storm and which capsized after battered by storm somewhere off Masbate on its way to Leyte and Samar. Damn, am I getting mixed up by all of them.
Back to Harapan with Ted and Korina, there was this guest, a young woman who said 5 of her 10 siblings and their parents were on board the ill-fated ship. There was this lady presumably a lawyer whom I did not get to catch her position in the matter. And, there was this male lawyer that, unmistakably, represented Sulpicio Lines who assured that P 200,000.00 (U.S. $4,550.00) will be paid by insurance for each casualty. He was emphasizing that the ship was cleared by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and by Philippine Coastguard before it sailed. And I counted twice he said that everything was pure “act of God”.
Act of God! Now, that’s pointing the fore-finger at the great old man. “Nah, not me! I gave you steel instead of your old creaking vessels! And I gave you advance storm warning system, you moron idiot!” He’ll probably say to that!
I Don’t Fly
I don’t take plane ride unless I have no choice. If I were on a plane and it crashes, then I’m a dead man. I see myself as a good swimmer. I always told myself that if I were in a ship that sinks, I may make it to shore. They are what run in my head.
But above all, I guess, I love traveling by sea. Besides being economical, I always find them exciting and romantic – seeing exotic islands in the way and meeting nice people on board. Out at sea at night and away from dirty city air, the heavens are clear and beautiful. Each star is visible it seems, and their colors are more defined. The heavens can be viewed 360 degrees and from horizon to horizon. They remind me of how the stars and the heavens used to be so fascinating. But then that was long time ago in a small provincial town where I grew up, and something never seen by people in big cities today.
Of sea disasters and acts of God
Was not MV Cebu City, which sank off Manila Bay after colliding with a Singaporean registered vessel, also owned by Sulpicio Lines? I had been on that ship eight times before, to be exact, between Manila and Palawan.
I won’t forget my last ride of that ship! It was a fine day when we sailed from Puerto Princesa. I was thinking of a most enjoyable voyage ahead as the sea was calm as could be.
I don’t usually stay put when I’m in a ship. I could be at the aft watching the awesome power of the propellers. I could be at any side as the ship sails by an island or an islet. I could be any place I can get in a ship where I think is interesting.
I was at the bow getting the feel of the ship’s slicing through waters during this particular ride. I thought I was wrong but I had a feeling our speed was quite unusual.
The ship is awesome fast, I told a stranger nearest me. He agreed. He gave his estimate at 20 knots or more instead of the leisure cruise of about 15 knots. I was thinking maybe he was a fisherman. Or, who knows, he could be one of the off duty crew of the ship. He seemed to know much about seas and ships. A storm is expected, he added at the end of our conversation.
So, a storm was expected! Then it suddenly made sense to me why the sea was unusually calm and why all the speed! And we are there beating the storm to port! But surely ship captain must know his business.
We were at the mouth of Manila bay when storm was felt. From Corrigedor to port is about an hour. It was hell of a storm as we berthed at North Harbor. The storm was one of the strongest that hit Metro Manila because it came from the open South China Sea instead of the ordinary Pacific storm that is usually damped down by the Sierra Madre before battering the big city.
I reached Payatas Home all drenched, with roofs flying away and trees being uprooted all around. That was in 1994. And what a very, very exiting voyage!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
No tree broken and no roof blown-off in Payatas this time, but typhoon Frank’s aftermath shows far more deaths and damage than one has imagined. It now appears to be one of the most devastating – more sea tragedies during the storm, than reported in the National head lines. Storm from the Pacific usually hit Samar and Eastern Luzon, and usually goes Northwest direction. Frank struck below the belt hitting the Visayas group of islands and made a sharp upper cut.
Clarification: the MV Cebu City was owned by William Lines. Sorry