Sun.Star Cebu - - FRONT PAGE - KEVIN A. LAGUNDA / Re­porter @thuglife

Images of his fu­ture wife, fouryear-old son and his fam­ily flashed be­fore his eyes as the tip of an as­sault ri­fle’s bar­rel was pressed against his left tem­ple.

Mag­daleno San­gre Jr., trem­bling and cry­ing, was afraid that the bright fu­ture he had en­vi­sioned for his fam­ily might end in the wa­ters off Nige­ria, af­ter a gang of pi­rates took him cap­tive with 11 other crew mem­bers of a Swiss cargo ship last Sept. 22.

It was the 24-year-old na­tive of Barangay Pon­dol, Balam­ban’s first en­counter with pi­rates, who hi­jack cargo ships and hold th­ese for ran­som.

The in­ci­dent, how­ever, has not damp­ened his de­sire to re­turn to sea­far­ing.

“Moba­lik gi­hapon ko, uy. Mopahuway lang sa ko (I will re­turn. I just have to take a breather),” he said.

His mother Ester­lita, Pon­dol’s barangay sec­re­tary, wished San­gre would find a job here in the coun­try be­cause she still fears for his safety.

“Sa hu­nahuna lang gyod nako, kon akoy mag­buot, dili na nako siya pasakyon (If it were up to me, I will not let him go back). Pero nag-ex­pect gyod ko nga mosakay siya og ba­lik batan-on pa man siya (But I ex­pect him to go back abroad be­cause he’s still young),” she said.

San­gre’s girl­friend Je­lyn Teves, 26, also asked him to stay close to his fam­ily.

“Niana man siya daghan siyag plano para namo (He told me he has lots of plans for us),” she said.

San­gre’s first stint work­ing in an in­ter­na­tional ship hap­pened in 2015. He is sixth in the brood of seven. He has an older brother, who is also a sea­man.

San­gre said his mem­ory of the in­ci­dent re­mains vivid.

Around 6 a.m. last Sept. 22, San­gre was jolted from his sleep when the voice of mv Glarus’s cap­tain blared in the speak­ers, an­nounc­ing the ar­rival of eight armed pi­rates.

The at­tack hap­pened around 45 nau­ti­cal miles south­west of Bonny Is­land. Glarus was trans­port­ing wheat from La­gos to Port Har­court in Nige­ria at the time.

San­gre hid in the en­gine room. He and his other ship­mates were forced to go out when the pi­rates threat­ened to kill their cap­tain.

The pi­rates boarded the ship by us­ing long lad­ders and cut­ting the ra­zor wire on the deck, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment sent by Glarus’s com­pany to AFP.

The gang then de­stroyed sev­eral com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment and took 12 of the 19 crew.

San­gre said he cried while he was on board the pi­rates’ small boat.

Moba­lik gi­hapon ko, uy. Mopahu­lay lang sa ko.


Sea­man taken cap­tive by pi­rates last Septem­ber

When they were about three me­ters from mv Glarus, a pi­rate called his at­ten­tion af­ter re­al­iz­ing their small boat was over­loaded.

“He told me, ‘You, small boy, you know how to swim?’” San­gre said.

San­gre jumped into the wa­ter and swam back to mv Glarus af­ter the pi­rate trained his ri­fle at him. He was held hostage for more than an hour.

When he got back on board mv Glarus, he called his girl­friend on the satel­lite phone. Teves, a pub­lic school teacher in Balam­ban, said San­gre’s voice was calm when he told her about his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Du­gay kaayo ni-sink in (It took a while to sink in),” said Teves, who then told Ester­lita about San­gre’s or­deal.

San­gre re­turned to Cebu in the first week of Oc­to­ber. The six other Filipino sea­far­ers were re­leased from cap­tiv­ity last Oct. 28.

San­gre went to the Over­seas Work­ers Wel­fare Ad­min­is­tra­tion 7 of­fice in Cebu City on Fri­day, Nov. 9, to ap­ply for liveli­hood as­sis­tance.

He was ac­com­pa­nied by Teves and their son, Josef Miguel, who will turn five next month.

The cou­ple plans to wed next year.


LIFE AT SEA. Mag­daleno San­gre Jr. re­counts his har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence off the coast of Nige­ria when pi­rates boarded his ship and took him and 11 oth­ers cap­tive last Septem­ber.

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