Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Others are more Important than Yourself: 2015 Sabah earthquake Heroes

Rescue team managed to save a boy (Photo credits: The Malaysian Insider)

An earthquake with a 5.9 magnitude (Malaysian Metereological Department) struck Mount Kinabalu on 5 June, taking the lives of 18 people, as of 10 June 2015. 

Among the 18 deaths, six Malaysians, nine Singaporeans and one each from the Philippines, China and Japan. Most of the victims were from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) in Singapore. Singapore had also named June 8 the Day of Remembrance for the victims. During the Southeast Asia Games on 8 June, flags were at half mast and the audience observed a minute of silence. The student from TKPS took a route known as the Via ferrata ("iron road" in Italian), which was supposedly a safe route according to my aunt who is a tour guide, but it was one of the worst-hit areas in this incident.

Among the rescuers who sacrificed their lives to save others, were Robbi Sapinggi, Valerian Joannes, Joseph Selungin and Ricky Masirin. These warriors, if I can call them so, are mountain guides and mountain trainers, whose responsibilities include ensuring the climbers' safety. Day in, day out, they do what they do, ensuring the last person catches up with the others ahead, ensuring the person is doing alright and able to continue. I personally experienced the care from a guide when I was hiking Broga Hill with my MUVP (volunteer program) mates last year. Well, I was the last to reach the top and it felt great having someone by my side when I could barely catch my breath and felt extremely exhausted.

Life is precious, nothing in their job scope indicated that they ought to risk their lives to save others, yet they did. Knowing that you may die, would you do such an heroic act to save others? There is no right or wrong in this situation. One may choose to flee because other things matter more than these children whom the person is not related to by blood -- this choice is acceptable. Family may take centre stage in these trainers' lives, or maybe other aspects such as working towards achieving dreams, aspirations and hopes. Robbi Sapinggi, was 31, Ricky Masirin, 28, Valerian Joannes, 27 and the youngest of the four, Muhammad Daanish Amran was 22. At these ages, one is at its peak of the career. One may settle down with a spouse, have children, advance his career, whatever it may be. It's a great age to be at.

Let us honour and respect to these men, and learn from them, to be courageous, compassionate and selfless.

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