A sad reunion: Firefighter who rescued Atio Castillo visits wake
MANILA, Philippines – It was not the reunion Lords Hernandez had hoped for.
Hernandez, a firefighter, reunited with the family whom he and his teammates rescued during a fire in Paco, Manila on December 7, 2005. There was no cause for celebration, as one of those they rescued now lies inside a coffin.
"Siyempre nakakapanghinayang. Kasi yung reunion 'di 'ba dapat masaya? 'Yung reunion namin, siya nakahiga na roon, wala na," he said. (It is a shame, of course. Reunions are supposed to be happy. In our reunion, he is already lying there [inside the coffin], lifeless)
Castillo's relatives invited Hernandez to visit the wake after his Facebook post recalling the 2005 fire made rounds on social media.
The boy's name sounded familiar to Hernandez, which led him to later discover that he was the same boy he rescued from a fire more than a decade ago.
The memory of that night is still vivid for the firefighter. He said he remembers the 10-year-old Atio looking for his dog soon as he was rescued from their burning house.
"Hindi niya kami kilala. Siya, kilala lang namin sa pangalan. Pero, kumbaga pagkatapos nung sunog, yung buhay namin at buhay nila may koneksyon," Hernandez said in an interview with Rappler. (He does not know us. We only know him by name. But it's like, after that fire, our lives and their lives are somewhat connected)
The rescuer felt nothing but sorrow after learning about what happened to Atio Castillo whom he said "was living his second life."
'Justice will prevail'
Hernandez said that he is optimistic that "justice will prevail" in the killing of Castillo.
On Tuesday, September 26, John Paul Solano, a suspect in the fatal hazing, identified 6 fraternity brothers and one non-member in the controversial case that is currently gripping the nation.
The law student's death revived a long-standing controversy surrounding fraternities and hazing rates in Philippine universities.
While the country has an existing law banning hazing (Republic Act No 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995), the rule did little to discourage fraternities from the practice in their initiation rites. Since 1995, at least 16 people have died allegedly due to hazing – but there has been only one hazing-related conviction.
In 2014, then Valenzuela Representative, now Senator, Sherwin Gatchalian filed House Bill 4714 or the "Servando Act" which seeks a total ban on any form of hazing or physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury to be inflicted on a person who wants to be admitted to an organization. – Rappler.com