I was 17 years old on that fateful day of April 22, 1980. My name is Ray Paduano. I come from Saravia. This is my M/S Don Juan Story:
I was having my vacation in Manila after I graduated in high school. I decided to go back to Negros to attend the annual fiesta in my hometown of Saravia. I boarded the M/S Don Juan early that day and met Mr. Belonio, a "kasimanwa" (townmate) from Saravia.
I ate my dinner with Mr. Belonio in the dining hall and then we went back to our bunks. After some time we decided to go and have a drink and go to the disco. Only M/S Don Juan had a disco during those days.
After a couple of minutes, we suddenly heard a loud bang at the side of our ship and the Don Juan was rocked. After the bang, there was a total blackout and all the passengers began screaming. We heard one crew member shouting to us not to panic.
I had enough presence of mind to pull out one life jacket and ran up with Mr. Belonio. After three minutes, I decided to jump into the water and swim as fast as I can. I did this for a few minutes. When I turned my back, I couldn't see the ship anymore. All I could hear was the screaming of the passengers.
I swam towards the lights of the ship that collided with the Don Juan. It turned out to be a PNOC tanker. The crew of the PNOC tanker threw some life boats and I decided to get in and help the crew rescue some passengers. From the lifeboat, we went aboard the PNOC tanker and helped the crew pull in all the passengers we have rescued. On board, I met my high school classmate, Jessi Apasay. He was also a survivor. I also met some other people from Saravia, Mrs. Sanny Arroyo and a Mrs. Infante.
The following morning, we were all brought to Batangas City. Upon reaching Batangas pier, I was shocked to see all the dead passengers laid out. There were more than 200 of them. I never imagined there would be so many casualties. After that, I let my name to be listed in the list of survivors and we went to the Batangas hospital for a check up. It was also a coincidence that one of the attending nurses in the Batangas hospital was also my "kasimanwa", Ms. Joy Gustilo. She immediately attended to me and I also told her that there were three more "kasimanwa" survivors. Upon learning that, she placed a long distance call to their residence in Saravia informing her mom to inform my family and the other Saravia survivors' family that were all ok.
I am deeply thankful to Ms. Joy Gustilo for her kindness. After we finished our check up we were brought back to Manila in Pier 2 to be sent back to Negros, via Negros Navigation. I decided not to go back but instead stayed in Manila.
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