IN THEIR OWN WORDS: The fishermen of Gem-Ver

Rambo Talabong, Sofia Tomacruz

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On the shores of home in Barangay San Roque, Occidental Mindoro, the men of Gem-Ver tell their stories

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OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – On June 9, 2019, a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat anchored near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea then abandoned the 22 fishermen aboard it.

As they watched their boat sink in the dead of night, two of them paddled their way to another foreign boat from afar. As it turned out, those aboard the vessel were Vietnamese fishermen who rescued them.

It was the longest night of their lives and they remember it in vivid detail.

Here are the men of Gem-Ver and what they remember most about the hours that they thought would be their last.


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Part 1 | THE SINKING OF GEM-VER: Barko! May babanggang barko!
Conclusion | Despite Duterte, Gem-Ver fishermen buckle down to work
Video | Gem-Ver fishermen eager to sail again

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.
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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.