Sorry, no results were found for

GF Of Hashtags' Franco Hernandez Tells Her Side Of The Drowning

"Iniwan nila talaga kami, nalulunod na kami."
PHOTO: Instagram/janicanam

The death of dance group Hashtags member Franco “Mico” Hernandez on November 11, 2017 came as a shock to everyone who heard the news. On that fateful day, Franco, his girlfriend Janica Nam Floresca, his fellow Hashtags member Tom Doromal, Tom’s girlfriend, and Tom’s cousin Cleo took a small boat to the White Sand Island in the municipality of Don Marcelino, Barangay North Lamidan, in Davao Occidental. What was supposed to be a fun island hopping ended in tragedy.

The first few reports published immediately succeeding the incident stated that while the seven people (including two boat operators) were on their way back to the resort where they were lodging—a private resort owned by Tom’s family—big waves started hitting the small boat, causing the passengers to fall into the water.

Yesterday, December 2, 2017, PEP.ph published a report written by Rachelle Siazon detailing the events prior to and following the incident. The report was based on PEP.ph’s exclusive interview with Nam and Franco’s parents Raul Lumanlan and Marissa Lumanlan. The interviewees refuted some details of the previous reports and statements made by Rico Igalan and Efren Kilang, the boat operators of Franco’s group when the incident happened.

The Boatmen Spoke

Two days after Franco death, ABS-CBN’s morning show Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG) aired a report that contained an interview with Rico and Efren.

According to the UKG report, the group took a motorized boat to head back to the private resort after island hopping at the White Sand Island. In the middle of the sea, big waves lashed and started filling the tiny boat.

The reporter narrated Rico’s story: “Nauna munang bumitiw sa pagkakahawak sa bangka ang isang kasamahan nila Franco at Tom na isang lalaki at nalulunod na. Kaya sinaklolohan ng mga bangkero at pinaabot sa dalampasigan. Ngunit pagbalik nila sa bangka, sina Franco ang nalunod. Nakuha nila si Franco at ang kasama, pero tanging ang babae lang ang nagising.”

The report also contained an interview with Senior Superintendent Romarvin Villanueva, the commander at the Don Marcelino Municipal Police Station. Villanueva said, “Lahat sila tumalon sa bangka, then kumapit sila sa bangka. Pero, unfortunately, si Franco at ’yong girlfriend niya, nakabitiw sa bangka.”

The report also noted that none of the passengers were wearing life vests. It too narrated Efren’s side: “Hindi sila nagkulang sa pagbilin sa mga sakay na magsuot ng life vest.”  

Continue reading below ↓

Nam’s Side of the Story

In the PEP.ph report, Nam revealed that she and Franco already expressed their hesitation to take the boat ride: “Sabi ni Franco na, ‘Bro, takot ako sa tubig, ha? Nagpa-panic ako sa dagat.’ Hindi kasi siya marunong lumangoy. Hindi rin ako marunong lumangoy. Sabi ko rin kay Tom, ‘Takot ako sa dagat, Tom ha?’ Sabi niya, 'Ay, hindi naman tayo maglalangoy ng malalalim. May beach naman kasi do’n.’”

In the same report, it was revealed that no life vests were given or offered to the passengers. Nam said, “As in, wala talaga. Kaya parang wala na rin sa isip namin na walang life vest na papunta. Nawala na rin sa isip namin ’yon, e. Kasi nag-e-enjoy rin naman sila. Alam ko, kay Tom naman ’yon, alam ko kapag kasama siya, safe naman kami, parang gano’n. Kasi sa kanya lahat yun, e, ’yong resort.”

After a series of activities, the group decided to head back to the private resort.

Nam told PEP.ph that they were supposed to be divided into two groups. But according to Nam, Tom said, ‘Kasya naman lahat, e. Kasya naman, Kuya?’ Parang gano’n. Tapos sabi, ‘Kasya.’ Kasya raw. Pumayag ’yong bangkero na lahat na kami pabalik.”

Nam then narrated the harrowing experience. When a huge wave started filling the boat, the boat operators asked the passengers to jump into the water: “Tapos sabi ng bangkero, ‘Baba lahat, baba!’ Bumaba sila. Ako, natira ako. Tapos, parang sabi, okay lang naman daw kasi payat naman daw. Tapos bumaba din ’yong girlfriend ni Tom, pero pinaakyat din niya, kasi takot din, hindi rin marunong maglangoy ’yon. ’Tapos parang tinatabo nila ’yong tubig sa banca, nagpa-panic na rin pati ’yong mga bangkero, e. Tapos no’n, pinatay din nila ’yong makina no’n, kasi baka lalo kaming maano." The passengers were then asked to swim toward the shore.

Nam continued: “Pag titingnan mo kasi, kitang-kita mo malapit, e. Pero pag lalanguyin mo, malayo. Sobrang malayo talaga. Tapos sobrang lalim pa. Wala kaming life jacket. Hindi kami marunong lumangoy. Ta’s ’yong alon, tuluy-tuloy. Talagang malulunod kami.”

She insisted, “’Yong mga bangkero yung nagpatalon sa amin. Hindi kami kusang tumalon. Bakit kami tatalon, ‘di ba? Tapos no’ng tumatalon na, ako, ayoko pang tumalon. Si Franco nagagalit na siya sa akin, ‘Tumalon ka na! Tara na!’ Parang no choice na, no choice na kami. Lulubog daw ’yong bangka, ganyan. Ta’s nauna ’yong ano...Hindi ko na napansin ’yong iba, e. Kasi ang focus ko, kaming dalawa, e. ’Yong bangkero ’yong nauna, tapos kumapit ako sa kanya. Ta’s sabi ko kay Franco, ‘Love, kapit ka sa akin.' Ta’s kumapit siya sa akin.”

Continue reading below ↓

The big waves kept coming, and after a while, Nam lost sight of her companions. According to Nam, Cleo and the two boat operators went ahead, and one of the operators said they prioritized looking for help at a nearby island.

“Sabi ko, ‘Paanong tatawag ng rescue kung patay na kami? Dadating ’yong rescue, patay na kami, ‘di ba? Dapat, sana man lang, kinuha kami, dinala na muna kami bago sila tumawag ng rescue. Kaso wala, iniwan nila talaga kami, nalulunod na kami.

“’Tapos no’n, parang ako, no’ng time na ’yon, sabi ko, ‘Wala na ’to, wala na ’to. ’Di ko na kaya.’ Kasi nakakainom na kami ng tubig, e. Lulubog kami, tapos pag aahon kami, may alon na naman. Ta's tuluy-tuloy ’yong alon. Tapos wala na talaga. Tuluy-tuloy ’yong alon, nagsusuka na kami…Tinatanggap ko na lang na, ‘Okay, magkasama na kami ni Mico sa kabilang buhay.’ Nagpa-flashback na ng memories, nakapikit na lang ako. Parang merong konti, ta's liwanag na lang nakikita ko.” 

Nam told PEP.ph that she estimated their waiting time to be around 30 minutes. They tried to float to keep themselves above water, but the waves kept dragging them down.

At one point Nam saw Franco struggling to survive, which made her scream, Love, laban lang!” She added: “Sinigaw ko yun sa kanya kahit wala na akong maisigaw.”

When the boat operator finally got to them, they were already too weak and were vomiting. The operator went to Nam first, but she told him, ‘Yong boyfriend ko po, ’yong boyfriend ko, siya na lang po unahin niyo.’”

She added, “Pinuntahan siya ng bangkero, tapos si Mico kumapit. Parang wala na talaga siyang oxygen, e. Hindi na siya makahinga. So, parang pati ako, parang nahihila na niya ako pababa.”

Franco held on to Nam and the operator as they all swam back to the shore, but Nam said she felt Franco was getting weaker: “Sabi ko nga, kahit ako na lang, e. Kahit huwag na siya. Kahit siya na lang mabuhay. Kasi pag love mo talaga ang tao, kahit hindi na ikaw, e. Gano’n pala talaga pag nando’n na sa sitwasyon. Kasi alam kong wala na siyang hangin, e. So, ang ginawa ko, ako ’yong lumubog. ’Tapos inangat ko siya. Parang humugot ako ng lakas para maiangat ko siya. Tapos, after no’n, nakakapit na ako sa bangkero, pero sobrang hinang-hina na ako. Suka ako nang suka no’n, e. Nung nagfu-float siya, naririnig ko na siya, as in sumusuka na siya. Tapos ako, hindi ko napapansin na sumusuka rin pala ako. Kasi puro tubig, e, so hindi ko napapansin.”

Continue reading below ↓

They were barely alive when they got to the shore. Nam recalled, “Ta’s parang ako ’yong ire-revive nila. Sabi ko, ‘Do’n kayo lahat kay Franco.’ Sabi ko, ‘Gawin niyo lahat. Huwag kayo titigil hangga’t hindi nagigising.’ Tapos pag-ahon sa amin, as in dilaw na kami, nangingitim na kami. ’Tapos si Franco, wala na siyang malay no’n, pero may pulso pa siya. Meron pa talaga.”

Franco was brought to the Estacion Medical Clinic and Hospital in Malita municipality, Davao Occidental. He was declared dead on arrival. He was 26.

Cosmo.ph is open to hearing the statements of the people involved in the story.