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Remembering the M/V Don Juan tragedy: One summer trip gone wrong
She stood by the railings and looked down as the ship sailed, its solid steel mercilessly cutting through an equally merciless sea — a scene that, 10 years ago nearly swallowed her and her sister forever.
Bebol Carreon broke down watching this scene. This was her catharsis, her way of releasing the pent-up feelings, the frustration, the fears, maybe the anger, and yes, the guilt that had bottled inside her frail body as a survivor of the sinking of M/V Don Juan, a tragedy that may well qualify as Negros’ own Titanic, a disaster that had marked the end of one glorious era.
It took 10 years for Bebol to muster enough strength to confront the ghosts and demons that had haunted her since that one fateful night, in April 22, 1982, when a summer trip had gone awfully wrong and she ended up fighting for life, in the middle of a shark-infested sea. She was 14, going on 15, and looking forward to a nice, leisurely trip back to Bacolod; what ensued, instead, were 10-15 most fateful minutes of her life that went on for hours, then a half a day until she got back to her family; and then years, until she got back herself, strong enough to go back to it again even if only in the mind. Bebol recalled:
The bang and the shudder they heard and felt when the tanker hit their boat; the fight for life vests – someone had barged into their cabin and tried to snatch their life vests; the faces of two members of a family who, in the ensuing confusion, came looking for each other — they all perished, their bodies never found ; the eerie calmness of the queue where another family had lined up, supposedly for a safe exit from the sinking ship — their bodies were never found ; the sight of people ministering to a bloodied passenger whom they wanted to bring to the infirmary not realizing they were minutes away from being swallowed by the sea;
Read the full story at the Good Life April 2013 Issue, grab a copy now at Pendys, Business Inn and at the leading news stands or contact us at (034) 708-0691.