MANILA, Philippines — Two Philippine Marines were rescued after drifting at sea for three days, during which they also survived an attack by “small” sharks.

Marine Privates First Class Alvin Lovido (left) and John Paul Mangaoang recuperate at a military hospital after surviving three days adrift at sea, during which they were attacked by ‘small’ sharks. (photo by Elmer Badilla, InterAksyon.com)

Marine Privates First Class Alvin Lovido (left) and John Paul Mangaoang recuperate at a military hospital after surviving three days adrift at sea, during which they were attacked by ‘small’ sharks. (photo by Elmer Badilla, InterAksyon.com)

Privates First Class John Paul Mangaoang, 26, and Alvin Llovido, 28, both stationed at the Kalayaan Islands, were testing a boat engine when it conked out some 20 nautical miles off Likas Island on March 9.

Worried that the boat might drift away, the two grabbed flotation devices from the boat and decided to try to swim back.

It was on their second day in the water, Mangaoang said, when the sharks attacked. Both soldiers suffered minor leg injuries from the incident.

Commodore Joseph Rustom Peña, chief of Naval Forces West, said they mounted a search, mobilizing three boats and two aircraft, 24 hour after the soldiers went missing.

“Napakahirap talaga. Nakikita na nila ‘yung mga eroplano pero hindi sila nakikita nu’ng eroplano (It was very difficult. They could see the airplanes but the airplanes couldn’t see them)” Peña said.

The two soldiers were eventually picked up by the BRP Rizal on March 11 and are recovering at the Camp Gen. Artemio Ricarte Station Hospital.

“Buti na lang malalakas ang loob ng mga sundalo natin at nakayanan nila ‘yung nangyari sa kanila (Fortunately, our soldiers are hardy and were able to withstand their ordeal),” Peña said.

Asked if they were still willing to be assigned to Kalayaan, both said, “Yes.”

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