Many of us are familiar with the often-caped superheroes that star in blockbuster movies. While these “heroes” save lives and overcome villains, their story ends when the movie ends.
But for the 59 people aboard the MV Siargao Princess that sank off Sibonga, Cebu after it was battered by strong waves on Thursday morning (November 7) , a different kind of superhero exists. One that doesn’t wear a cape, but saving lives — in a behind-the-scenes but in an awesome way.
The hero is Seaman First P03 Seaman Ralph Barajan, a native of Barangay La Paz in Cortes town. He played a key role in saving many passengers and crew.
The weather was fair but it became horrendous an hour after they left Loon Port. The vessel was battered by strong waves and the forward portion of the ship began to sink, throwing the passengers into panic.
It was fortunate that there was Barajan, a trained Coast Guardsman, who was among the passengers of the vessel who was on his way to the substation in Southern Cebu.
He let the Coast Guard in him overcome fear and placed the safety of his fellow passengers above that of his own. He was able to direct the passengers and crew when the ship began to sink.
“Gusto ko lang ma save tanan mao tong naningkamot ko nga mag uban-uban mi tanan.
Ako lang naa sa mind kay way mamatay sa ako atubangan (I wanted everyone to be saved that’s why I tried to bring us all closer. That no one would die),” Barajan told VRS.
He took the initiative to ensure all passengers and crew wore life vests and that they stayed close together before the rescue.
Architect Ernie Gelbolingo could testify to the bravery of Barajan.
“Kon di pa niya, di mi maluwas. Siya maoy nagpakalma sa mga pasahero, siya maoy nag-instruct ug nag-guide sa mga pasahero kanus-a mangambak, pag-abot sa dagat, siya maoy nagpahiluna sa mga bata ug tiguwang sa life raft,” Gelbolingo told reporters.
Daphne Marielle Tudtud,15, also thanked Barajan’s bravery.
“Magpasalamat gyud mi ni Kuya kay walay daotang nahitabo namo,” said Marielle.
Maria Encarnacion Arellano, 65, who spent the two long hours with her sick husband Eduardo floating in the sea, said it was a miracle. She said Barajan calmed down the passengers.
Arellano, who hails from Davao, said they were on their way Sibonga town to visit the Our Lady of Simala Shrine. They were coming from a vacation in Tubigon town.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Encina, spokesperson of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Central Visayas, praised Barajan as his leadership skills as a Coast Guard was essential to keep the passengers and crew alive during the maritime accident.
Everyone called him a hero.
However, Barajan shrugged off hero title for doing his duty. He is just happy to be called dedicated and dependable.
Not all superheros wear capes. Ang uban taga La Paz, Cortes!
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