Rolando Omongos Filipino fisherman: How a 21 year old Philippines man battled the elements and his sanity for 56 days after having been stranded out to sea in no man’s land.
Rolando Omongos a 21 year old Filipino fisherman has lived to tell how he survived two months adrift in sea before ultimately being rescued. The man’s tale comes after having flown back to Manilla on Wednesday after spending 56 searing days in the ocean where family and friends had given up the missing man for dead.
Except Rolando wasn’t dead. But very nearly came close to dying. Somehow the man managed to survive the elements and his own battle. With his sanity.
In an expose, the Philippines native told of his despair, his determination to survive as he idled in a small boat that had drifted from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea after having run out of fuel after being caught in a storm out at sea.
Bereft of food and water, the man who came to be separated from his uncle told of surviving on rainwater and moss growing on the hull of his long boat reports AFP.
By the time Omongos had been rescued by a passing Japanese fishing vessel, the once 134 pound man had withered to a mere 45 pounds.
By then the emaciated man had been reduced to eating moss once every few days.
His 31-year-old uncle Reniel Omongos, who was on a second small boat, died after a month.
He believes hunger and exposure killed the older man.
Mr Omongos said he latched his uncle’s body onto his boat for a few days but later let it sink into the water when it began to smell.
‘God, please take care of my uncle. I have to stay alive so somebody would bring the news [to our kin],’ he said he prayed.
It all began on December 21 when uncle and nephew had set off along with other fishermen aboard a purse seiner from General Santos, a southern Philippine port facing the Celebes Sea.
The port lies more than 2,000 miles north-west of the PNG island of New Britain, where the rescuers later dropped the survivor off.
A storm separated Mr Omongos and his uncle from their mother boat on January 10, and they ran out of fuel five days later.
They later tossed their small boat engines overboard so they would float higher and avoid being swamped by huge waves.
Told the stranded fisherman: ‘I was waiting for ships to pass by. I just waved at them but they did not see me
He said the ships and fishing boats apparently failed to see their tiny vessels bobbing about 2-3 miles away.
Explained Omongos, ‘I never lost hope. I was always praying,’
‘I told myself, at least one of us had to get back home.’
Fortune finally turned its head, when according to the PNG Post Courier newspaper a fishing vessel found Rolando Omongos, 21, adrift and without food on a boat on March 9.
The fisherman, who quit school after sixth grade, said he planned to rest after flying home to General Santos on Thursday, but vowed never to set foot on a boat again.
‘Maybe I will go back to school instead,’ he said in afterthought.