By Calvin D. Cordova
Cebu City — Jeralden Castellano will begin Grade 7 at Maribago High School today, one of the thousands of students starting another school year.
But Jeralden is no ordinary 12-year-old. She has been recognized by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) as a “modern-day hero.”
She saved four of her siblings from their burning house in Lapu-Lapu City last April 10.
For her bravery, Jeralden received the BFP’s Medalya ng Kasanayan (Medal of Excellence) during a ceremony last Friday attended by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Eduardo Año.
She had rushed inside the burning house and saved her younger siblings Merry Jeralen, 7, Dante Jr. 6, Junreel, 2, and Merry Girl Castellano, five months.
“I was not afraid. I saved them because I love them,” she said.
Jeralden’s three-year-old sister, Merry Julian, perished in the fire.
“I tried to save her too but I was not able to do so because the fire got bigger and bigger. I cannot reach Julian’s hands because I fell from the stairs,” Jeralden said.
Their 42-year-old father, Dante, said he is very proud having a brave daughter like Jeralden.
“I thank God for giving me a daughter like her. She was so brave,” said Dante, who was on duty at a construction company when the fire broke out.
“I did not even know how she did it because when I arrived, a fire out was declared already,” said Dante.
Aside from Jeralden, 381 personnel from BFP-Central Visayas and 30 group volunteers also received the Medalya ng Kasanayan for battling the fire that hit Metro Ayala Mall last January.
“This (award) could boost their moral,” said the BFP-7 Regional Director Senior Supt. Samuel Tadeo.
Año commended the firefighters and the group volunteers for their roles in the Metro Ayala fire that took three days to contain.
“Their job as firefighters is full of challenges but at the same time fulfilling,” said Año. (Calvin D. Cordova with PIT Intern Larnie L. Bacalando)