SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/01 January) – Four men dared swim across the Surigao Channel, from Basul Island to Lipata in Surigao City on New Year’s eve but only one succeeded, to the amazement of Surigaonons who could not believe such a feat was possible.
Lawyer Ingemar P. Macarine, 37, president of the Surigao Runners Club, and a triathlon enthusiast, swam for two hours. He left Basul Island at 8:10 in the morning and reached the shoreline of Almont Beach Resort in Barangay Lipata at 10:10 a.m.
Macarine’s watch with Global Positioning System marked the distance at 4.28 kilometers although Google Earth places the distance between Basul Island and Lipata at 3.79 kilometers.
The lawyer was one of four swimmers who tried to make history by being the first to cross the turbulent Surigao Channel.
“I’ve lived here for decades, I’ve never heard anyone dare swim from Basul Island to Surigao City,” said Josefino Lisbo, 49, a fisherman from Barangay Punta Bilar.
Lisbo said the constant turbulent current makes it impossible to cross it. In addition, he said, there are still sightings of Hammerhead sharks around it.
Basul Island is part of Surigao City, a city known for its island adventures.
With Macarine were medical doctor and triathlete enthusiast Romulo Ybernas, 39; swimming coach Ernesto Ecleo, 46 and his son, Drych, 10, a swimming-athlete.
The three companions of Macarine drifted away and were picked up by pumpboats that served as life support in case they needed help.
“I was like in limbo midway, the current dragged me away. I tried to swim but I felt that I was swimming against the current,” Ybernas said.
Macarine maintained his freestyle stroke until he moved closer to Maharlika II, a roll-on-roll off boat that had anchored.
“Grabe ang current, morag wala ko magdulog,” (The current was really strong, I thought I was not moving), he said as he tried to move closer to the boat.
The crew cheered.
Macarine followed the advice of swimming coach Ecleo to change course.
“He was going to Punta Bilar but because of the strong current we advised him to change direction,” Ecleo said.
In less than a minute, Macarine swam past the anchored ship. A few minutes later he reached the shoreline of Barangay Lipata, at the cozy hotel-resort.
Macarine embarked on this swimming activity to promote environment awareness especially on marine environment which he said has been abused by the people.
He raised both arms upon reaching the shoreline. Seconds later, amid cheers from his fellow triathletes and support group, tears rolled down his face.
“We need to protect our environment, the pristine water now may not be the same in the near future if we don’t take care of it,” he said.
He added the siltation from Surigao River and other areas and the illegal fishing methods have endangered the environment.
Macarine was greeted with applause, chants and cheers upon his arrival at the Surigao Dive Center where his family and friends waited.
His four-year-old son, Lance, kept chanting, “Go, Go, Daddy” along with Macarine’s parents, Ignacio, also a lawyer, and his mother Marlyn, a retired teacher.
His wife Racquel and daughter, Hilary Colyn yelled in victory.
“It’s amazing! Extraordinary, indeed,” said George Langit, a fisherman from Punta Bilar.
Other local triathletes are planning another island to island swim this year to raise environmental awareness.
Jake Miranda, owner of Punta Bilar Dive Center who had been promoting marine protection and teaching fisherfolk the right fishing methods, congratulated the lawyer.
“He is the first man to swim from Basul Island to Mindanao Island despite the turbulent current,” he said on his Facebook post on Tuesday. (Roel Catoto, MindaNews)