BONTOC, Mountain Province – In a heartwarming and emotional conclusion to a tense nine-day search and rescue operation, the community of Bontoc celebrated the safe return of Allan “Wangho” Fagsao, who was reported missing on Dec. 30, 2023.
Based on statements from his family and information recorded on the police blotter at the Bontoc Municipal Police Station (BMPS), Fagsao was last seen at Sitio Sameyew, Caluttit, Bontoc, wearing a gray jacket and gray jogging pants, and was using unmatched slippers.
In response to the report, Mayor Jerome Tudlong, Jr., who also chairs the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), activated the Municipal Emergency Operations Center and the Incident Command System (ICS) to oversee the search and rescue (SAR) operations.
The breakthrough in the search came when a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit at the Mainit Patrol Base spotted Fagsao, prompting the entire community and neighboring municipalities to intensify efforts to locate him.
The SAR operations involved teams comprised of community volunteers, MDRRM council members from Bontoc, Sadanga, Besao, and Tadian in Mountain Province, as well as Tubo in Abra and the Mountain Province Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
On Jan. 8, at 2:16 p.m., the Emergency Operations Center received a call confirming that Fagsao was located. Response teams were then instructed to meet the Dalican SAR team in Barangay Dalican.
After receiving first-aid treatment, Fagsao was ferried to the municipal ato for the ritual called “palanga, khaeb si makedse,” performed by community elder and former municipal indigenous peoples mandatory representative (IPMR) George Luis Fakat, assisted by IPMR David Coycoyen.
After the ritual, Allan was transported to Bontoc General Hospital for further assessment and was discharged by his attending physician on the same day.
As relayed by the Dalican SAR team, they strategically dispersed to cover more ground during their search. It was during this effort that Mario Lapaan found Allan in an unoccupied house which is commonly used as a resting place for local hunters and farmers at Sitio Kurayo, Mainit, Bontoc.
The mayor expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the SAR teams and the community for their assistance, emphasizing that the miraculous reunion serves as a powerful testament to the effectiveness of collaborative efforts and the unwavering dedication of the community.
“In the face of adversity, our community has exemplified the true spirit of og-ogfo, standing united during challenging times. The concerted efforts of our search and rescue eams from Bontoc, Sadanga, Besao, Tadian, and Tubo, Abra with the assistance of their respective MDRRMCs and provincial DRRMO have showcased the strength that arises when we work together toward a common goal. The celebration of Allan’s safe return is not just a personal victory for his family but a collective triumph for the resilience and unity of the entire Bontoc community,” Tudlong added. Christy Mae C. Pangesfan