Coron tourist who died in a trip with partner tweets final message: ‘Heaven’

Miguel Ruiz posts a photo on Instagram hugging his partner Travis Millard. Screengrab from Ruiz''s Instagram account.
Miguel Ruiz posts a photo on Instagram hugging his partner Travis Millard. Screengrab from Ruiz’s Instagram account.

Heaven.

This was the last tweet of a tourist in Coron, Palawan who died after snorkeling with his Filipino-American partner.

Miguel Ruiz on his Twitter account (@miggyruiz) last posted on Aug. 8: “Heaven.”

It was around the time his partner Travis Millard arrived in Manila from Texas for their vacation in Coron, a prime tourist destination in Palawan known for its pristine waters and lush islands.

Ruiz, 25, died Aug. 14 after snorkeling in Sieto Picados island, one of the famous island-hopping destinations in Palawan, according to an Interkasyon.com report.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, Millard posted a Facebook status: “Today, I have lost the love of my life.”

Millard is based in Houston, Texas, studying Marketing in the University of Texas, according to his Facebook account.

His trip with Ruiz looked like a vacation from studies, as he shared his excitement on Facebook counting down the days he would visit with his partner the “most beautiful island in the world.”

“20 DAYS,” Millard posted on July 17.

In the Interaksyon article, Millard countered a report by the Coron Municipal Office that Ruiz had died of drowning, saying the tide was low when they were snorkeling.

He said Ruiz called up to him and said he had difficulty breathing after accidentally stepping on something.

“And the way his breath sounded as he called me was sort of like short and exhausted. And he was like, ‘I stepped on something and I’m having trouble breathing!’” Millard was quoted in the report.

Reports later floated the idea that Ruiz may have stepped on a stonefish, a poisonous fish that looks like a coral.

Millard said the boatmen who served as tourist guides did not know how to respond when Ruiz had difficulty breathing.

Ruiz later on started to exhale “bubbly liquid” through his mouth and nose, he said.

Millard said it was even he who performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Ruiz as he was being brought to shore.

“In my head, he’s just having trouble breathing. As soon as we get to the shore, it’s 2015, we have technology. They’re gonna hook him up to a respirator and he’ll be fine. He’s 25, he’s healthy, this is just a freak incident,” Millard said.

A clinician himself, Millard said he initially thought his partner was having an anaphylactic attack.

“I even thought to myself, should I give him an emergency tracheotomy? Should I stab him (in the throat)? The thoughts in my head were just going so quickly,” Millard said.

When Ruiz was brought in the ambulance, it was only Millard trying to revive Ruiz, with no one among the boatmen and ambulance driver who knew how to respond to the emergency.

“The ambulance was the taxi of his death. They did not give him any kind of assistance. I was the one who continued to give him air. I was the one to continue giving him what CPR I could recall from Health class I learned when I was 12 years old,” Millard said.

Ruiz was declared dead on arrival at the Coron District Hospital.

“(The doctor) gave me this look and he pointed me to the room. He didn’t say it in these words but he was like, ‘Go ahead. Go for it,'” Millard said in the Interaksyon report.

“So I opened the door and I saw him there and I began to pound on his chest, I began to blow into his mouth, and the moment I touched his lips and they were cold, I knew that he had left me,” he said.

“In a matter of ten minutes I really lost the best person in my life and he died in my actual arms. And that is one thing I can never forget. I would never want this to happen to anybody else, ever,” Millard added.

In a separate CNN Philippines report, Millard said Coron is still not equipped as a tourist destination to be prepared for such emergencies.

“How dare you attract people from around the world. How dare you take our money and not protect us and give us even the idea or educate us on dangers that exist,” Millard said in the report.

In a Facebook post Aug. 15, Millard expressed his love for his partner who he said taught him how to love and accept himself for who he is.

“You made me better. You made me finally accept who I was as a person. You assured me that one day, I would love myself as I loved you,” Millard wrote as a caption to a photo of him and Ruiz in Coron.

“You taught me not to get upset so fast. ‘Galit agad?!’ you would say to me. I am no longer afraid to be who God made me because you are the one who taught me that love has no boundaries. It’s just love,” he added.

“I love you so much Migs. Until I see you again in heaven.”

Travis Millard posts a photo on Facebook with his partner Miguel Ruiz, who he said taught him how to love and accept himself. Screengrab from Millard's Facebook account.
Travis Millard posts a photo on Facebook with his partner Miguel Ruiz, who he said taught him how to love and accept himself. Screengrab from Millard’s Facebook account.
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