CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar, Dec. 22 (PNA) — The city government here will institutionalize the commemoration of the sea mishap that killed thousands of residents in this province nearly three decades ago.
Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan noted that many young people in this city and other areas of Samar provinces don’t remember anymore the sinking of MV Doña Paz on Dec. 20, 1987.
With an estimated death toll of 4,386 people and only 24 survivors, it is considered as Asia’s Titanic and deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history. More than 2,000 victims were residents of this city and nearby towns.
“We want people here to always remember the incident and for the children of the city to know this is part of our dark past,” Uy-Tan said.
The mayor made the statement Wednesday afternoon or a day after the 29th commemoration of the tragedy where she observed that only few people showed up to remember the victims of the sea mishap.
Next year, the city government will line-up several activities for the 30th commemoration of the tragedy. This include dramatization on what happened to passengers from Samar while onboard the passenger vessel.
Uy-Tan added that improvement will also be done at the Pieta Park next year. The park was built to remember the victims in Samar province.
Fr. Ferdinand Figueroa, parish priest of Roman Catholic church St. Bartholomew parish here said that Doña Paz tragedy has become part of Samar’s history that should never be forgotten.
“This commemoration should not be stopped. I call you to remind the priest who will replace us on the significance of this commemoration, why we commemorate the tragedy and what is the meaning of this day for the people of Samar,” Figueroa added.
On Dec. 20, 1987, the ferry bound for Manila from Tacloban City with stopover in Catbalogan, had more than its capacity of unlisted passengers, collided with the oil tanker MT Vector in the Tablas Strait, near Marinduque.
The resulting fire and sinking left an estimated 4,386 dead. The oil tanker was carrying more than 8,000 barrels of fuel.
The passenger vessel was said to be overcrowded with more than 2,000 passengers not listed on the manifest.
The Doña Paz was originally built by Onomichi Zosen and used in Japan in 1963 with name Himeyuri Maru and has a capacity of 608 people. In 1975, Sulpicio Lines bought the ship and named it Don Sulpicio, then later named it Doña Paz with authorized carrying maximum load of 1,518 passengers. (PNA) ROEL T. AMAZONA