Lanzones saves abducted Zamboanga farmer from hunger
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The tropical fruit lanzones or longkong saved 64-year-old Rex Susulan Triplitt from hunger throughout his 14-day captivity in the hands of local bandits suspected to have links to the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“At first, we still had rice for food. But when the man who was bringing supplies to where I was held, was arrested, we don’t have food anymore,” said Triplitt, a farmer from Piacan village of Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.
It was no by some stroke of luck the fruit was in season in that part of the vast Zamboanga Peninsula.
“Lanzones was like rice and viand for us,” he told the local Emedia radio.
Triplitt was snatched on September 16 in Tapayanan village in Sirawai.
He, his wife and their child were on a motorcycle going home when flagged down by five armed men.
His wife and child managed to escape and reported the incident to authorities.
Triplitt said he lost his shoes when dragged by his abductors hence the long walk through the mountains was punishing.
‘Treated like an animal’
In a video posted online by Emedia radio, Triplitt showed his bruises, cuts and wounds on his legs, and on the soles of his feet.
“When exhausted, I stop due to gnawing pain on my feet, but they kick me, forcing me to walk. They treated me like an animal,” he recalled.
Triplitt said he was first kept in an area near a waterfall. Amid the pursuit operation by the Army and police, they have to walk even during the night to flee.
The military has sealed off sea routes in Sirawai to prevent his transfer to the Abu Sayyaf hideaways in Basilan or Sulu.
On Wednesday, Sept. 30, government forces, through information forwarded by local residents, located them in Pisa Itom village, also in Sirawai town, said Major General Generoso Ponio, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.
Triplitt said he escaped amid a fierce gunfight.
Triplitt said he earns a living painting houses after he already made plans to sell his farm for P1.2 million.
He said that while in captivity, he offered it for only P1 million to his abductors in exchange for his release, as if the P200,000 markdown was for ransom. The offer was rejected.
Triplitt, who speaks Chavacano, clarified that he is a pure Filipino, although his great grandfather is an American. His mother is a native of Sulu.
“My neighbors know me and they always call me kano’ng hilaw (half-baked American),” he joked.
Authorities thought that the kidnappers had mistaken Triplitt as a wealthy man capable of shelling out a fat ransom.