Despite the hope of a relative of missing fisherman from San Vicente, Virac that the body found off Tinopan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay last Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, was that of Fernando Vargas, 48, it is claimed that the corpse could be either one of the missing Torrentes from Baras.
The Tinopan corpse, which was buried that same day by MDRRMO Rapu-Rapu as it was already in an advanced state of decomposition, was in a similar state with the body of Melvin Babagay that washed up off the shore of Matabao Island, Batuan in Ticao Island, Masbate province.
Both dead bodies had lost most of the flesh in the skull, indicating that the bodies had floated in the water for almost the same length of time.
On the other hand, Ronilo Guianan II, who along with two companions, braved the three-hour sea crossing just to bring the two survivors to Virac, surmised that Fernando Vargas could have been sucked underwater and got caught under a rock cavity of the reef off Tinopan.
Disaster authorities fear that along with Vargas, the five other fishermen from Baras are already dead.
To prevent any more unnecessary deaths among marginal fishermen, perhaps the national government should consider providing food assistance to them when they are not allowed to venture out to sea due to a gale warning for a week.
The food pack could be granted only to those registered with the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration or FishR.
Envisioned as the entry point of blessings from government to fisherfolk, the FishR System is a registry of municipal fisherfolk that incorporates the data from the National Statistics Office’s Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) and from the existing Fisherfolk Registration System of BFAR.
The FishR is envisioned to guide the national government on what kind of assistance should be given to improve the livelihood and quality of life of fisherfolk as well as the appropriate assistance for the city or municipality.
It is also designed to assist local government units to comply with the provision of RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998 which provides for the registration of municipal fisherfolk.
As of now, there is no updated data on how many of local fishermen in Catanduanes have registered under Fish-R, although an old BFAR press release in 2014 showed that at the time about 5,400 fishermen here have registered with Fish-R.
Tomorrow evening, 8 PM, Dec. 16, 2021, the soon-to-be typhoon Odette is forecast by PAGASA to be just off the northern tip of Dinagat Islands which is located between Samar island and the eastern coast of Mindanao.
By that time, assuming the PAGASA forecast is proven correct, the typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 150 kph would be about 380 kilometers east southeast of Virac.
It would be too far away for the winds to affect our Happy Island, except for the rain and some wind as the weather disturbance could affect the behavior of the shear line during and after the passage of Odette, PAGASA stated last Sunday evening.
THE FAREWELL SPEECH. A priest was being honored at his farewell dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician, who was also a member of the congregation, was chosen to make the presentation and give a little leaving speech at the dinner. He was delayed so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited.
“I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when stopped by the police, had almost murdered the officer. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his place of business, had an affair with his boss’s wife, taken illegal drugs. I was appalled,” the priest said. “But as the days went on I knew that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.”
Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived, full of apologies at being late.
He immediately began to make the presentation and give his speech.
“I’ll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived,” said the politician. “In fact, I had the honor of being the first one to go to him in confession.”