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PIA Press Release

PGMA meets Antique's boy hero

Manila (28 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met yesterday afternoon the 13-year-old boy hero of Antique province who saved his mother and two younger siblings from drowning in the Sibalom River at the height of "Typhoon Frank."

The President, who walked from Malacanang to the Premier Guest House under a light drizzle to meet Rodney Berdin and his family at 5 p.m., congratulated the boy from the Kiniray-a tribe -- the lifesaver, literally and figuratively -- for his family.

With Rodney were his 40-year-old mother Maria, and younger brother July, 7, and youngest sister, Tonna May, 3.

The Berdins were accompanied to Malacanang by Josephine Daguy-luan, municipal social welfare officer of Belison town in Antique, and Rosario Cabrera, head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) of Iloilo.

Also on hand were Press Undersecretary Jesus G. Dureza and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez, both of whom spoke to the boy hero and his family in their native tongue to get him to share with them the details of his heroic deeds.

A first grader, Rodney had left school to help his "mango-ngopra" or copra-worker mother.

The family of four was in their hut in Barangay Rumbang along the Sibalom River when flood waters caused by Typhoon Frank swept their hut along with its inhabitants at 7 a.m. of June 29.

A swimmer, Rodney swam after his drowning brother, July, and took him to a camachile tree near the river bank. July held on to the thorny tree trunk until 5 p.m. before an uncle came to his rescue. "Puno siya ng dugo nung nahanap namin," said Daguy-luan.

Having advised his brother to hold on to the tree for dear life, Rodney then swam downstream to his mother and sister who had been swept by the rampaging Sibalom River.

Rodney served as the life-saver of his mother Maria and sister Tonna Mae for five hours as they floated downriver, until they finally saw a driftwood at noon. They clung to the driftwood for another three hours before being swept close enough to the river bank, safe at last! (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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