To be honest, I really didn’t know at first. Part of this journey was to recollect things in the past for me and my whole family. And let me tell you that in itself is a process. I am not a reporter so the way I ask and when I ask all had to be considered. Once I’ve asked my family, I also had to ask myself on what I remember. I also combed the web for any news articles about the accident and was pleasantly surprised that there were other things that I was able to stitch together.
Anna, one of my cousins, mentioned that she may have spotted my sister Edwina, even talked to her years ago when she was vacationing in Mindoro by Aninuan Beach or Tamaraw Beach.
From news articles, there were about 3 major places where the survivors were brought (the port of origin, the port of destination and some were brought back to Negros Navigation in Manila).
My parents and grandparents who looked for quite some time searched many places to no avail.
From what I gathered, the closest trace they got was when my mom, along with a friend of hers and my grandfather went to Bulalacao in the southern tip of Mindoro ( see the island just below Batangas on the map).
It was speculated that my sister may have been shipwrecked or rescued by fishermen and because of the shock, she had lost her memory and had never made the connection to go back home. The other possibility of course is that she may not have survived since it did happen when people were sleeping and some were trapped in cabins. She may have been the few that were never discovered. But what if she wasn’t one of those? I just have to give it a try and try to sniff any trace of her. It is possible she may be going under a different name now, especially if the theory that she lost her memory holds true.
Which leads back to the question, where do I focus my search? Although I’d like to explore Aninuan or Tamaraw Beach area, I have decided to start in Bulalacao. My mom recalls that they went to see a Mangyan settlement and when she showed them Edwina’s picture they had a hint of recognition but was quite secretive. It is possible that that is just their way but it couldn’t hurt to start there. If anything it would cool to meet an indigenous tribe and perhaps help out a little.
One of my other cousins Queenie, who works with indigenous groups has been gracious enough to take this short trek with me and my mom to Bulalacao. It has been a long time since I saw her and it would be good to catch up with her in person. We take this trip in about 2 weeks. We will fly in to San Jose airport then travel by bus over to Bulalacao. We will establish some contacts there and continue to have the lines of communication open with the locals and maybe even with the tribe.
I don’t really know what to expect but I am quite excited and a little apprehensive about this leg of the trip. I had to sit myself down and tell myself that I just need to let events wash over me and absorb as much as I can. I have to pay attention to signs around me and I’ve had a few “coincidences” that have already happened. I don’t know what the signs mean, not yet anyway. I do know that I have to be open and receptive to these signs. It is no different to physical direction signs, if you don’t pay attention, you can totally miss a turn.
I bought myself a compass as a symbol of my journey. Let’s see where the true north points to.