Home News Rolando Omongos and his heartbreaking and inspiring tale of survival

Rolando Omongos and his heartbreaking and inspiring tale of survival


A young fisherman is finally home three (3) weeks after he was rescued from his 58-day sea ordeal.

Rolando omongos
Rolando Omongos was rescued after nearly 2-month ordeal of hunger and heat. Photo: Noel Celis, AFP

Rolando Omongos, 21, was rescued by Japanese shipping vessel Wakaba Maru three weeks ago near Papua New Guinea. 

He and his 31-year old uncle, Reniel Omongos, along with other fishermen, set offshore via a purse seiner from a port in General Santos City on December 21 last year. 

Unfortunately, a storm drifted him and his uncle away from their mother boat on January 10.  They ran out of fuel five days later. 

Omongos recounted how he battled hunger, thirst and despair for nearly 2 months in the sea. 

He said he survived on rainwater and moss growing at the hull of his 2.5-metre (8-foot) long boat, finding respite from the heat of the tropical sun by diving into the water frequently.

To keep their boats afloat higher and avoid being swamped by monstrous waves, the two tossed their small boat engines overboard.

His uncle who was aboard a separate boat succumb to death after a month due to severe hunger and heat. 

Rolando lashed his uncle’s body onto his boat for a few days but later let it sink into the water when it began to decompose and smell. He said prayers and his desire to come home to his family kept him alive. 

“God, please take care of my uncle. I have to stay alive so somebody would bring the news (to our kin),” he prayed.

“I never lost hope. I was always praying. I told myself, at least one of us had to get back home,” he added. 

Before he was rescued, he said at least 4 shipping vessels have passed them. Unfortunately, apparently none of those vessels have seen their small boat. 

After 58-days, his prayers were answered when the Japanese fishing vessel Wakaba Maru found him.  He was already very weak and emaciated.  He was down to just over 20 kilograms (more than 44 pounds), from his original weight of 61 kilograms.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he said he vowed to never set foot on a boat again. He plans to rest while recuperating from trauma and physical stress.  

He also plans to go back to school. 

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