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Filipino couple’s fishing adventure turns into tragedy

KUWAIT: A photograph of Horlan Jeff Malaza taken shortly before he went missing off Balajat, Salmiya. — Photos courtesy Mary Ann Malaza

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Newlywed couple Horlan Jeff Malaza, 28 and Mary Ann Malaza 30, decided to go out for some quality time fishing on the weekend. They went to a spot off Balajat Street in Salmiya on August 20, 2021. But two hours later Horlan had gone missing. Thirty three hours later, his lifeless body was found in the sea about a kilometer away from where he had last been seen. His wife said Horlan worked the shore, wading into the water while fishing and must have been drowned that way.

“We went last Friday for fishing because he really loves fishing,” said wife Mary Ann while talking to Kuwait Times at the couple’s flat in Salmiya. “For me, it was the first time to go with him fishing, otherwise he would go fishing alone. That Friday, I was excited because we both were off work, and I promised him many times that I will accompany him that day, so we went,” she said.

Newlywed couple Horlan Jeff Malaza and Mary Ann Malaza

When they arrived at the area around 5pm, Horlan immediately went to a ‘quiet spot’ for fishing. “It was crowded that day because probably it was Friday and people were swimming. So he went a bit far from a place where he left me,” Mary Ann said. “He went maybe around 200 meters but we could still see each other. I saw him set up his fishing rod, and waited.

A few moments later, I saw him dip his body in the water, with the rod in his hands. In fact, I went closer to him just to take some photos. But then I went back to my place where he left me because he wants me to just wait there. So, I waited while browsing my Facebook and posted the several photos I took,” said Mary Ann who is three months pregnant now.

Around 6pm, Mary Ann could still see her husband from afar. But at 7pm, she noticed that he disappeared from the place where he was fishing. “At first, I did not suspect anything, because maybe he would have just left for walking somewhere away from the spot where he was fishing. I did not mind anything, no bad thoughts at all. So, I waited at the place where he left me a bit longer. Then after some time, I went back to the spot where he was fishing.

And I saw some more Filipinos there already setting up their own fishing rods too. They were all shocked to hear my husband was missing and helped me in searching for him. I called my sister to tell her about what happened. Meanwhile, my friends had also come to support me. I dialed up 112 emergency hotline and the police came,” she said.

A search and rescue mission was launched. “I saw divers, police cars, ambulance and boats at the scene and the search continued until 3 am when they came to me and requested me to go home and rest. I left the area only at 5.30 am. I went home without my husband. Then, I tried to sleep a bit. Then at 5.30 pm that same day, I received a call from the authorities saying they had found a body. They need me for identification. I thought the body of my husband would be there, but he wasn’t there. The moment I arrived at the police station, I immediately saw our wedding ring placed on a white paper; I knew it was him,” she said.

The couple married only four months ago and Mary Ann is three months pregnant.
“For 33 hours, I was crying and hoping for a miracle that he would come back to me alive. But he’s gone forever and left me with our baby,” she cried. She was not allowed to see her husband’s mortal remains, although her male companions were able to identify the corpse.

Horlan Jeff Malaza’s body was handed over to the forensic department for investigation. Mary Ann will accompany her husband’s body which will be flown to Manila. The repatriation process of Horlan’s body is now being done with the assistance of the Philippines embassy in Kuwait.


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