Friendship blossoms during captivity

Friendship blossoms during captivity
A file photo showing Dayawan (left) and Gao.

KOTA KINABALU - The Filipina hotel worker and the Chinese tourist who were kidnapped together on April 2 became close friends during the two months that they were in captivity in the mountainous jungle hideout of the kidnappers on Jolo island in the southern Philippines.

Forty-year-old Marcy Dayawan was working at the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna where Shanghai native Gao Huayun was staying on April 2 when five gunmen came and abducted them.

The two women were eventually released on May 30 and brought back to Sabah by Malaysian security officials before returning to their respective families.

Malaysian and Philippine officials have said that no ransom was paid for the women's release.

Soon after returning home to her native Midsayap town in North Cotobato on Mindanao island, Dayawan told the Philippine media that Gao had cried when they went their separate ways after arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Sabah.

She said she and Gao had been held by the gunmen in the jungles of Indanan on Jolo island, adding that they called their leader Misaya and sometimes Maas (elder).

Dayawan said while in captivity, she served as Gao's caretaker in the mountainous hideout.

"Most of the time we were fed fried chicken the Abu Sayyaf bought from a food store. Masarap din (it was quite tasty)," she said.

When Gao celebrated her birthday on April 8, Dayawan said the kidnappers even bought her special food in town.

Dayawan said the gunmen did not harm them in any way but they were guarded by two armed men constantly.

She said the gunmen also allowed Gao to call her family in Shanghai.

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