MANILA, January 7, 2011 (AFP) – A 15-year-old Philippine schoolboy who was sent alone to sea by his grandmother to fish survived three days adrift after his boat engine failed, local authorities said Friday.
The hungry, thirsty and exhausted boy, sixth-grader Mark Sanico, washed ashore aboard his tiny dugout in the central city of Danao on Thursday, and is recovering at a local hospital, police officer Cherry Panares told AFP.
“He was very weak. He had had no food or drink for three days. He said he had some boiled ground corn, but it spoiled early so he had nothing to eat,” Panares told AFP by telephone.
The big waves meant he could not cast his net out to get food, she added.
Clad only in a shirt and shorts, the boy told police the boat had drifted at least 90 kilometres (56 miles) across the Camotes Sea from his coastal hometown of Villaba on Leyte island without any other mariner noticing his plight.
The boy told police he saw only another fishing boat on Wednesday and no other vessels, but the other fisherman apparently did not see him when he waved for help, Panares said.
She praised the boy’s resilience, saying a life spent in poverty had probably ensured his survival.
“He’s one tough kid. That’s probably what saved him,” said Panares, head of the Danao police women and children’s section.
The boy told police his mother left him to his grandparents a few months after he was born.
He said his grandmother sent him off to to sea early on Monday when he should have been at school because they needed fish to eat.
“They are very poor. The municipal government had to give bus fare to his grandmother so she could come here to pick up her grandson,” Panares said.
“He looked a lot better today and is laughing again. I told him jokes so he would not feel down. He just wants to go back home.”