Life is full of experiences. There are, in the life of a human being, incidents and happenings that one will never forget because they have given the individual horrible, happy, and or sad memories. These experiences may have given the person lessons that he can use or apply to future problems and/or situations as he or she goes on to his or her journey in life. I had a very good life in the Philippines. I had a lot of experiences and good and bad memories that I cannot forget. When I was 15 years old, I had one horrible experience that I will never forget.
In December, 1997, my whole family went to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, to have the physical examinations as a required by the United States Embassy in preparation for our immigration to the United States. We traveled by sea. We boarded the MV Super Ferry.
At that time, it was largest ships that transported passengers and cargoes between Manila and Cagayan de Oro City, our province, and vice versa. On our trip home, we boarded the same ship. The ship had three decks and our room was on the second deck. Our bunk beds were located at the middle part of the ship.
The ship left Manila at about 7:30 in the evening. The ocean was calm when we left. The ship was sailing smoothly.
I saw many happy faces on the passengers. My family was very happy, too, for soon we would be back home. We ate dinner at the cafeteria of the ship. After dinner, we watched television shows. Some passengers were listening to music and some were just going around chatting with friends to chat. My brother and my sister were playing scrabble.
While my Mom and I watched TV. By 10:00 o’clock, in the evening, most of the passengers started to lie down to go to sleep.Those near the side of the ship, unfolded a large tarp to protect the passengers from the cold wind and ocean spray. My family also slept. We each had a bunk bed. I was between my Mom and my brother. I slept soundly.
Then at about midnight, my Mom woke us up. I felt the ship rocking to the left and to the right, and pitching to the front and to the back. The wind was blowing hard and furiously.
The waves were very big. Some of the passengers folded up the tarp to allow the wind to pass through the ships railing. I heard children crying.People screamed every time the ship tilted and people were praying. I heard bottles and bunk beds rolling back and forth. I saw children and adults vomiting.
Soon my family and I were vomiting too. We were crying. We were scared the ship would sink and we did not know how to swim. We were scared we might be separated from our parents and we would not know what to do or where to go. We were afraid to die.
My Mom told us to stay calm and pray silently. All through the night we stayed together on my Mom’s bunk bed. My Dad had life vests ready for us.We found out what was wrong with the ship from a crew member. He said, the worst thing you could imagine, the engine of the ship had broken. The lights went off. With the aid of the engine, the captain had steered the ship into the wind to keep it stable. Without the engine, the captain had no control over the ship.
We did not know where we were at that time. The more we got scared. It was very dark. All we could see was the light of the moon. More children were crying because of the darkness and being scared of what might happen. I heard sound of metal clanging, and the sound of pounding.I heard people shouting. My Dad said those were the ship crew members giving directions on what to do.
Then I heard the ship captain who spoke through a megaphone. He advised the passengers to stay calm and if possible to stay at the center of the ship to keep the ship balanced. He also informed the passengers that the engineers were trying to fix the engine. We were relieved by the information provided by the captain. One hour after the engine stopped, I heard the engine start up again. The ship went back to its normal track, but, the wind was still blowing hard.We were not able to sleep. We were waiting for the captain’s command.
My Mom told us to go back to sleep but we could not sleep anymore because we were still scared. Fortunately, at about 3:00 o’clock in the morning, the wind calmed down. The waves were no longer strong. The ship sailed smoothly again.
The passengers, including my family and I clapped our hands. Some people sang songs of praise and thanks to the Lord. The ship was quiet again. The mats were unfolded again to cover the decks.
I did not go back to my bunk bed that night.I was still too afraid to be alone. I could not sleep anymore. So, I stayed with my Mom until we reached our destination, Cagayan de Oro City. That experience was unforgettable for me.
First, I developed a phobia against traveling by sea. I was traumatized. Even today 12 years later. I cannot board a ship anymore. If I must to other places, I would rather travel by land or by air.
Second, the experience taught me a good lesson that in times of emergency situations wherein there is no way I can be of help, it is better for me to stay calm and leave everything to GOD.