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The family of an 11-year old girl who drowned and died while swimming in Tagbarungis beach on New Year’s Day is calling on the Puerto Princesa City government to shut it down immediately because it is dangerous to the public.

The Escalera family made the call Friday after their daughter Tricia Kate’s dead body was recovered dawn of January 3 by rescue volunteers of Barangay Inagawan along a fish pen near Kabaryawan coast in Barangay Kamuning.

Tricia Kate went missing on January 1 after a strong rip current swept her and three other children away from the shoreline of Tagbarungis.

Her father Renato tried to save her, but he too drowned. The other children managed to escape the water when it was already swelling.

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“Sana ‘yong beach na ‘yon na naliguan namin dahil marami na daw pong nalunod, sana po maisara na. Nananawagan po ako sa city governmen na kung sila man [sana] ay tumulong na rin. Ayaw na sana namin na maulit na meron pa kaming mabalitaan ulit na nalunod na naman po. Sana bawal na siyang pasukan kasi ganoon siya kadelikado sa maliit o malaki na bata man o matanda. Huwag nalang talaga nilang ipagamit para wala na talagang madisgrasya. Noong hindi na nakita ‘yong anak ko marami nang nagkukuwento na may namatay na [din doon] ilang beses na. Sa ganoon pala, bakit hindi sila naglagay ng babala na delikado pala ‘yon,” said Roselyn Escalera, Tricia Kate’s mother.

(I hope that the beach where we swam will be closed down since we heard it had already claimed lives before. We call on the city government to help on this. We don’t want to hear about another person dying because he/she drowned. I hope they ban it from public entry because it is dangerous to children and adult. When we didn’t see my daughter anymore, people in the area have told us that many had died there. If it’s like that, they should have placed a signboard to warn people about it.)

Roselyn said everything happened so fast at Sitio Tagbarungis when the children were swept away by the rip current after only six minutes of swimming in the water.

They were six families, including friends, that went to the public beach in Tagbarungis to celebrate New Year’s Day.

Renato said his daughter Tricia Kate and the three other children were playing in the water around noontime when the rip current pulled them away from the beach. He tried to save her but he too nearly got drowned.

“Napuno na rin ‘yong tiyan ko ng tubig. Marunong akong lumangoy pero talagang nasubukan ko ‘yong [ganoong alon], muntik na ako [mamatay], nawalan ako ng malay. Dapat magbabala sila sa lugar na ‘yon na hindi [puwedeng] paliguan ng mga bata kasi kung titingnan mo siya mababaw, pero malayo ‘yong kati [o] paghibas ng dagat. Siyempre ang mga bata akala nila namamasyal-masyal lang sila. Hindi nila mamamalayan kapag may high tide na, mahihirapan na silang bumalik, iyon ‘yong nangyari sa anak ko,” he explained.

(My stomach already got filled with so much water. I know how to swim but when that rip current came I almost died, I lost consciousness. They should put a warning sign in the place that it is dangeorus to children because if you look at the water it appears shallow but the fringe is really far. Children will think it’s okay while frolicking until they realize that it’s hard to go back to the beach anymore when there’s already high tide.)

Renato urged parents not to allow their children to swim in Tagbarungis to prevent what had occured to Tricia Kate.

Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) Station 2 investigator PO3 Alan Delos Santos said also Friday their initial investigation showed what happened was an accident.

“Kasi sila-sila lang namang mga bata ang nando-doon. Sa investigation ko, sa mga witnesses natin na kasama ding nalunod, kasi ‘yong mga witnesses natin ‘yong mga nalunod din, ‘yong apat na [iba pang] bata. Nakausap ko sila, ay talagang nalunod nga daw talaga sila,” said Delos Santos.

(It’s only the children who were there. In my investigation of the witnesses who also nearly drowned — four who nearly got drowned themselves — they said they too almost died. I spoke to them, and they said it was drowning.)

Delos Santos’ said the Escaleras are residents of Santol Road, Barangay San Jose.

The other victims are Aicy Shan Cugaid, 16; Zendria Cugaid Mambaje, 12, and Louigi Estroga II from Barangay Sicsican.

Delos Santos noted in his report that it was a family get-together where the children, while their parents stay in the cottages, decided to swim during low tide.

The report also indicated that it was only after a while that the kids noticed the sea water rising, a transition from low tide to high tide.

Delos Santos in the report said the parents attempted to rescue their drowning children, but Renato failed to save his daughter who was pulled by very strong rip current far away from them.

Renato collapsed and was only rescued by one of his friends who were with them in the outing.

City administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa said in a separate interview that the city government is able to take action on this matter by establishing trail signs in the area.

Pedrosa further stated that the Tagbarungis beach rip currents can be so strong because of the open sea.

“Ikinalulungkot din namin na may nangyaring ganoon doon sa pamilya ng bata, kaya lang po aksidente po talaga ‘yan. Ang puwede lang magawa siguro ng city government d’yan kung sakali para ma-prevent in the future ang kung ano mang aksidente ay baka po pansamantala ay ipagbawal natin ‘yong paliligo diyan, lalo na sa mga bata,” Pedrosa said.

(We are saddened that another drowning incident happened there and to the family of the child, but it was really an accident. What the city government can do maybe prohibit accidents there is to ban swimming for a while, especially to children.)

He said the city government is only the administrator of the beach and does not own it.

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