High School student still missing after ferry tragedy

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The mother, teachers and classmates of a UST Junior High School (JHS) student who went missing in a sea accident last December are hoping he would be found, despite no leads on his whereabouts.

Grade 9 student Jake Noel Mendiola was one of three passengers who went missing after the fast craft MV Mercraft III capsized off Real Port in Quezon Province last Dec. 21.

Mendiola’s mother, Dulcenia, said the coast guard gave the fast craft permission to depart at 9:30 a.m. due to the absence of strong winds.

Dulcenia said they were wearing life vests upon boarding the craft, but they had to remove them because it was hot.

Before lunchtime, the fast craft overturned and sunk.

Pinilit ko pong umibabaw sa tubig. Nakita ko po si Jake [umiiyak at tinatawag] po ako. Nakita ko pa po siya nasa ibabaw ng bubong [ng] Mercraft III. ‘Di ko [naisip] na mawawala [siya dahil] kita ko po ang lakas ng loob niya,” Dulcenia said.

Dulcenia said her son was trying to get hold of her until huge waves separated them.

Tinawag po niya ako nang sobrang lakas, ‘Mama nandito po ako halika na po.’ Inabot po niya ang kamay ko… kaso pag-akyat ko po may sobrang lakas na alon po na nakapagpahiwalay saamin. ‘Yun po ang huli naming pagkikita,” she said.

Seven people died in the ferry incident. The vessel had 251 passengers.

Mendiola’s family asked the Maritime Industry Authority to conduct an investigation early in January.

In her affidavit, Dulcenia said the coast guard should be held accountable in the tragedy for allowing the ferry to depart despite bad weather.

Dulcenia said the craft had an overwhelming number of passengers, and it had difficulty moving forward until water came in and people panicked.

The UST-JHS community offered Mass last Jan. 10 for Mendiola’s safety.

“We extended to them our profound hope and prayers for Jake […] It was just so unfortunate that something like this happened to one of our students,” Principal Marishirl Tropicales said in an email.

Dulcenia described her son as “kind, obedient and affectionate” toward his family.

Sobrang mabait na anak po [siya]. Wala po akong naging problema sa kanya kaya po sobrang nahihirapan akong tanggapin na hanggang ngayon ay missing [pa din] siya,” Dulcenia said. 

Dulcenia said her family was still hopeful Jake would be found.

Anak kung nasaan ka man, sana ligtas ka. `Di pa rin [kami] nawawalan ng pag-asa na sana isang araw [makakabalik] ka sa amin,” Dulcenia said.

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