The ill effects of the sinking of the MV St. Thomas Aquinas continue to be felt by the fisherfolk, this time in Talisay City, Cebu.
Ricardo Montillano, 57, one of the first fishermen to respond to the distress call of the passenger ship, said that some Talisaynons are afraid to buy seafood because of the notion that the fishes could have eaten the flesh of victims who have not been retrieved from the sea yet.
Montillano, who hails from barangay Tangke, said that his wife, who is a fish vendor, is having a hard time selling fish.
“Di mahalin, kaming mananagat ang maapektuhan (If it won’t sell, we the fishermen will be affected),” Montillano said.
MV St. Thomas Aquinas sunk after it collided with MV Sulpicio Express 7, a cargo ship owned by the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., formerly Sulpicio Shipping Lines, in the vicinity of the Lawis Ledge off the coast of Talisay City, Cebu.
Around 8 p.m., Aug. 16, 2013, the night of the sea mishap, Montillano said that he and his fellow fishermen were on the shore when a motorboat carrying six rescued passengers arrived.
They asked for help and Montillano together with three other other fishermen immediately responded to help in rescuing more passengers.
They first picked up a man, then a woman and another man who had a life jacket but was unconscious. The man was given first aid before he was immediately brought to the Talisay District Hospital for further medication.
“Louy pud kay hapit na baya to sila mu-abot, hapit na nila makita balik ilang pamilya ug kalit lang na naay nahitabong trahedya, luoy jud (I really felt sorry for them because they were about to arrive, they were about to see their families again and then suddenly a tragedy happened),” Montillano said.
Aside from feeling sorry for the victims, he also felt sad because he knew the incident would affect his livelihood as well as his other fishermen friends.
William Cabando, 56, another fisherman from Tangke, became sentimental while explaining how fishing supports his family. His two boats were destroyed while trying to help in rescuing passengers.
Perla Cabanez, barangay captain of Tangke, said that she has coordinated with board members and the congressman who has jurisdiction of her barangay to address the fishermen’s concern.
She said that relief goods will be distributed to the affected fishermen.
Meanwhile, Armando Cabanez, 46, lamented that amidst the good deed that they have done, they have been accused of having stolen the bags and other items of the victims that were floating in the sea.
“Daghan ming butang, bag na naagi-an pero tawo gyud ang among gisagup (We came across several things such as bags but we only rescued people),” Cabanez said.
Cabanez admitted that he does have a bag full of files in his home but he wants the owner to personally get it from him because he wants to explain what happened to the bag.
The name on the bag were Mark de Guzman and Crester Laruya.