- 19-year-old Peter Roncales went against all odds just to seek help for his struggling family.
- From Paranaque, Metro Manila, the young man biked more than 850kms to reach his parent’s relatives in Oras, Eastern Samar.
- Fearing for his family’s starvation and imminent eviction from their home in Laguna drove him to take on such a perilous and difficult task amidst the pandemic.
Like most ordinary Filipino family severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, 19-year-old Peter Roncales felt he needed to do something – especially after losing his job. Not only is his family starving; hardly eating three times a day, but they might soon be evicted from their home in Laguna.
Peter is the sixth in a brood of seven. Three of his siblings have families of their own, and couldn’t help financially. His father Marciano, 62, is a taho (soy bean curd) vendor while his mom, Liza, 60, works as a laundry woman. Since the lockdown, his father could not go out due to the restrictions. They intended to return to their hometown in Oras and permanently stay there, but they never got the chance.
On September 12, he decided to leave home without informing his parents about his plan. Since there are no means of public transportation, he would bike all the way to Eastern Samar to seek help, so he could bring his family there.
He has a bike he bought for 4,500, which he acquired after helping a couple whose vehicle broke down in San Pedro.
However, apart from that, he does not have any protective gear— No helmet, gloves, not even shoes for the long journey home.
The young man only has a bag and 150 pesos in his pocket, which he used to buy water and junk food.
His 10-day journey was hard and perilous. he had a flat tire for seven times and even got sideswiped by a motorcycle along the way. Moreover, he lost consciousness at least twice from thirst, hunger, and exhaustion.
He tried knocking on people’s doors along the way when his provisions ran out but sadly, many refused to help. Some hooligans also attempted to take his bike; they only left him after he tearfully begged.
Fortunately still, at least 15 good people offered him food and drinks. One soldier was also kind enough to get him a ferry ride from Matnog town, Sorsogon to Samar Island.
Thinking about his family motivated him to keep going, and on September 21, Monday, at 7 in the evening, he finally reached the provincial checkpoint in Taft.
The young man rested as he waited for personnel from the Municipality of Oras to fetch him, CNN Philippines reported.
Peter didn’t have the required travel documents and had not coordinated with the local government. But the authorities were more concerned about his condition.
Peter was extremely exhausted and hungry, so they immediately gave him something to eat and drink.
Andi Ballete of the local task force overseeing the local response to COVID-19 said, “He was so disoriented when we interviewed him. He was very tired when we brought him to our quarantine facility.”
The authorities took Peter to Oras National High School for a 14-day quarantine. He will be permitted to see his 85-year-old grandmother, Marciana thereafter.
In a telephone interview with the Inquirer, Peter said:
“I hope those in authority will help my family go home to Eastern Samar, and I wish that they will help us land any job.”
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