The waters were calm last night when I boarded the overnight ferry from Dumaguete to Cebu. Crossing the gangplank, my eyes briefly glanced upward at the lifeboats on top of the boat. Slipping into my cot I saw the bright orange life vests right in front of me and let out a reflective sigh. I had planned to depart the previous night, but the weather was not good, and the news on TV was far worse.
The MV Princess of the Stars, an enormous ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines en route to Cebu from Manila with more than 800 people aboard, capsized off the shore of Romblon amidst the height of Typhoon Frank. The shore was just 600 meters away but there were very few survivors, and the death toll is more than I can really put into perspective.
An alphabetized list of passenger and crew names is available at the company's website. I looked through the list of names, perhaps checking if any were familiar (none were). The death toll is merely a number, but seeing the long list of names helps give a scope of the tragedy. You start to realize that the number of dead is staggering, and each name represents a lost human life, yet you haven't gotten a third of the way through the list.
These were people that did not expect and did not deserve to lose their lives as they did. People who put their lives into the hands of Sulpicio Lines and trusted, just as I would, that if the company lets the ferry set sail despite the typhoon warning, then surely they must know what they're doing. Sons who kissed their mothers goodbye in Manila, texted brothers to greet them upon their arrival at the port of Cebu, had plans for the coming weeks, and plans for the rest of their lives that will never come. I wonder if they had come to terms with their fate as the ship overturned amidst the monstrous waves and terrified screams of children, hoping to strike one clear chord to reach the ears of God as they slipped the bonds of earth.