MANILA, Philippines—A young Filipino fisherman returned home Thursday after getting lost at sea in a storm and drifting for nearly two months, during which he said his uncle starved to death, before he was rescued by a passing ship near Papua New Guinea.
A smiling Rolando Omongos, 21, told reporters at Manila’s airport that he survived on rainwater, raw fish and prayers during his ordeal, which started after he and his uncle set off from southern General Santos city to fish and became separated from fellow fishermen in a storm.
While drifting at sea in their tiny boat, Omongos said he and his uncle struggled to catch fish and waited for rain to drink.
“I did not lose hope,” Omongos told reporters. “I was always praying that I will be rescued.”
The worst moment came after a month when he said his uncle died slowly from hunger.
Omongos said he waved and waved at passing ships until a Japanese fishing vessel finally stopped and rescued him off Papua New Guinea, more than 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) away from home.
Omongos was flown to Manila, his first plane ride, and spoke briefly to a group of journalists, appearing shy amid all the attention. He was later taken back to General Santos, where his mother embraced him and wept in joy.