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    Jun 10, 2014

    Sabah kidnap ordeal turned strangers into close friends


    THE Filipina hotel worker and Chinese tourist kidnapped 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, when five gunmen 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, Ms Dayawan told the Philippine media that Ms Gao had cried when they went their separate ways after arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Sabah.

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

    Ms Dayawan added that while in captivity, she had cared for Ms Gao, 29.

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

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

    She added that the gunmen did not harm them in any way, but they were constantly guarded by two armed men.

    The gunmen allowed Ms Gao to call her family in Shanghai, Ms Dayawan said.