6 hours at sea in Yolanda’s fury
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For six hours last Friday, Air Force Lt. Col. Fermin Carangan bobbed in a turbulent sea, holding on to a seven-year-old boy as they clung to a piece of wood.

Powerful winds howled around them and big waves pounded them as they were swept away from Tacloban by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Exhausted and showing early signs of hypothermia, the two washed up on the shores of Eastern Samar later in the afternoon.

Carangan, commander of the Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s Tactical Operations Group-8, was preparing his men for rescue and relief operations at their headquarters in Tacloban City at 6 a.m. on Friday when the rain started falling and the wind picked up. At around 7 a.m., the water surged into their office.

The water rose so quickly Carangan had to punch holes in the ceiling to get out. As he clambered onto the roof, the building collapsed.

The roof disappeared as Yolanda washed away everything in sight. Carangan managed to grab hold of a piece of wood as the sea swallowed up their headquarters along with his two junior officers, both fresh graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“I saw one of my soldiers trying to hold on to the wall of another building. I tried to reach him but the current was too strong and there was confusion and hysteria,” Carangan narrated in a blog posted by a senior PAF officer.

As Carangan was swept away by the waves, he managed to grab hold of a boy who was clinging to a floating coconut tree.

“At sea, we went through another hell. We were slapped by big waves, great big waves from all directions. We were tossed around by swirling winds. And we couldn’t help drinking a lot of salt water. I was getting tired, and so was Miguel. He was just seven years old and too young to die,” Carangan said.

Trembling from the cold after several hours, Miguel said he was exhausted and wanted to sleep. Carangan recognized it as a danger sign for hypothermia.

“I shouted in Miguel’s ear, ‘Don’t sleep! You can do it. Look, we are near land already,’ ” Carangan narrated.

He pointed to what looked like land nearby to keep the boy’s spirits up and make him stay awake.

“And then I realized that it was indeed the shoreline,” Carangan said.

Yolanda had blown them away to Basey in Eastern Samar, where rescuers found them on the shore at 1 p.m.

“I thought, maybe I survived because of this child. Without him, I could have given up. Maybe he’s the reason I’m still alive, because God wants me to make sure this child will live,” Carangan said.

Carangan, a member of the PMA’s Class of 1992, was taken to a hospital in Metro Manila.

“He’s now resting,” said PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Okol.

Carangan’s thoughts are with his men who remain missing, along with thousands of other people in Leyte.

 

AIR FORCE LT AS CARANGAN CARANGAN EASTERN SAMAR FERMIN CARANGAN METRO MANILA MIGUEL MIGUEL OKOL PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE PHILIPPINE MILITARY ACADEMY
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.