Today, April 22, marks the 41st anniversary of one of the most destructful accidents that ever happened to Bacolod City and Negros Occidental. This was the sinking of the Don Juan, the boat plying the Philippine waters with passengers for Bacolod City and Iloilo.
An estimated 200 passengers, among them those belonging to the most prestigious families in the region, were among the victims, with most of the bodies never recovered.
Bacolod was covered with a pall of gloom. Among the victims were the First Lady of the City, Nora Kilayko Montalvo, wife of then Mayor Jose Montalvo and their two daughters, Mylene, 17, and Yvette, 7, his mother-in-law Anicia Kilayko, Jose “Batchoy” and Linda Alunan and two of their children, and about 200 others.
The entire City was stricken, there was hardly one that did not have a member, a close friend or relatives among the victims. Survivors and families of the lost ones sailed from island to island in their search, at least for the bodies of their loved ones, but few were successful.
But the biggest consolation for them came when His Holiness, Pope John Paul II came to Bacolod City, and personally blessed and prayed for the souls of the lost ones before the memorial marker inside the San Sebastian Cathedral that was set up through the initiative of local media practitioners led by Ninfa Leonardia and Modesto Sa-onoy of the Negros Press Club.
A more detailed narrative on this accident will be published in the DAILY STAR tomorrow.*