After 13 years, a Pinoy kidnap victim of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group had an unexpected reunion with his rescuer in South Korea last weekend.
The Philippine Embassy in South Korea on Wednesday said Mario Rebosura Jr. and special envoy Roy Cimatu, a former Army official, met at a dinner hosted by Sen. Edgardo Angara last Nov. 27.
"(Rebosura) approached General Cimatu, who also remembered the then 10-year-old boy from the 1997 rescue mission, and an unexpected reunion between the kidnap victim and rescuer took place with a curious crowd bursting into applause," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, citing a report from the Embassy
Last Saturday's dinner, which was in honor of Filipino professors and students, was held at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul.
Rebosura, now a Filipino scholar studying in South Korea, is a Chemical Engineering graduate from University of the Philippines-Los BaŮos (UPLB) in 2009. He is now a graduate scholar on his third month at the Catholic University of Korea.
Cimatu is in South Korea with a team from the DFA, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to evaluate the security situation there amid the tension in the Korean Peninsula.
He was tasked to assess the level of awareness and preparedness of the Filipino community in South Korea, and test the Embassy's contingency plan.
According to the DFA, Rebosura was only 10 years old when a Father's Day celebration in Mindanao turned into a tragedy.
Rebosura narrated that the incident happened at a beach resort in Glan, Sarangani, in 1997 where six suspected Abu Sayyaf members abducted four people, including him and a Japanese national. He said the kidnappers killed his father when his father tried to fight them, while the four kidnap victims were forced to board a boat as hostages.
"I was kidnapped, taken as one of the hostages," Rebosura said.
But the getaway boat's engine failed after a kilometer's travel toward an Abu Sayyaf lair, and the boat eventually washed ashore.
Rescuers closed in and a gunfight ensued, resulting in the deaths of two of the kidnappers, including an Abu Sayyaf leader. The surviving hostage-takers fled with their captives but later left the hostages unguarded.
"We found a road, then some people and a house," Rebosura recounted, adding they eventually met the persons responsible for their safe rescue, including an Army colonel he met only once on June 16, 1997.
That Army colonel was Cimatu.
At last weekend's dinner, Rebosura recognized Cimatu when he was introduced to the crowd of about 100. "I know his face," he said. - KBK, GMANews.TV