A Gift from Ulithi

Photo by  Fr. Nicholas Rahoy
        On my first trip to the Outer Islands of Yap in June 1977 I visited Falalop, Ulithi enroute to Lamotrek.  In the above photo I am sitting with a group of men at a dance celebration for the Catholic ordination of Fr. Nicholas P. Rahoy,  the first son of Ulithi to become a priest.   When I returned for a short  visit in June 2000, someone said that their grandmother recognized who I was because she had this picture in a photo album.  When it was presented to me I could hardly believe it.  She told her grandson to give the photo to me as a "thank you" because I had come back to Ulithi.   Speechless, I was ashamed that it had taken me 23 years to set foot on the island again,  but honored and amazed at the same time that someone would remember me from a photograph that had been taken so long ago.  But that was not the end of her gift.  It was then that I learned the amazing story of the three men sitting with me in the photo:  Johannis Thareg (left),  Jose Yanger (full-body tatoo), and Manuel Yurus (right).   In 1954, they were sailing on three canoes from Ulithi to Fais.  The voyagers encountered bad weather and this caused some difficulty.  They searched for Fais for three days but alternative courses to find Fais ultimately proved fruitless.  Since the canoes were running out of food and water, they decided that the best course of action was to sail downwind to make landfall in the Phillipines.  There they arrived safely after 29 days at sea and eventually were returned by air via Guam to great rejoicing on Ulithi.
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