Last June 21, at the height of Typhoon Fengshen, a local ferry called MV Princess of the Stars carrying 849 passengers capsized off Sibuyan Island in the Philippines. Only 56 survived.
26-year-old Jimmy Relativo, a bakeshop employee from Manila, was among the few who were able to climb on a raft to safety. But his 22-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Roselyn Ligan, did not make it.
Below is a snippet of his own account from Tarra Quismundo's Philippine Daily Inquirer article:
' “I was thrown overboard and got separated from her. I saw her climb [up the bow] when the ship started to tilt. I told her to jump, but when I glanced back to the ship, she was gone,” said Relativo." '
The article recounted how the couple boarded the MV Princess of the Stars en route to Negros Island to tell Roselyn's father of their plans to get married.
But just hours before they were scheduled to dock, powerful winds overturned the ship. Jimmy and his co-survivors were washed ashore in the far-flung province of Quezon.
Days after, hopes of saving other trapped survivors died. Search and rescue operations had to stop because the ferry was carrying an acutely toxic cargo called endosulphan, a substance that is already banned in 17 countries. Fishing in the area is now prohibited, and local fishermen were told to find an alternative source of livelihood.
The tragic love story has taken an even deadlier turn.
(Bottom) Natives of Sibuyan's fishing village stare at the exposed keel of the overturned MV Princess of the Stars ferryboat after the accident.
MV Princess of the stars pic from BBC UK website.