On November 21st of 2013, Global Peace Foundation-Asia Pacific presented the 1st annual Golden Peace Awards for Heroes. Among the recipients was the mother of 19 year old Muelmar Magallanes. Muelmar was just one of many heroes that emerged during the devastating floods, hurricanes and typhoons that tore through the Philippines, late last year.
Muelmar, a construction worker saved over 30 people: family members, neighbors, women and children. He fought the currents of tropical storm Ketsana, putting himself in danger time and time again to save those were being swept away by the storm’s powerful currents.
As Muelmar rested for a moment, battered and soaked from his repeated rescues, he heard the cry of a woman. Although the cold and the strength of the current had rendered him exhausted, he dove back into the rising tides to save a woman and her 6 month old child. They were holding on to the lid of a Styrofoam container, clinging to nothing more than the hope of being saved. That was the last time Muelmar braved the currents, paying the ultimate sacrifice for the life of the young mother and child.
The gift of life, the unthinkable act of kindness that Muelmar showed Menchie Penalosa, the mother than he saved, will always be remembered. She said, “He gave his life for me and my baby and I’ll never forget his sacrifice.”
On Meulmar’s behalf, Maria Luz Magallanes humbly accepted the award that honors the heart of her son. Her expression of grief makes noticeable the hole that has been left in the hearts of his family and community. While her heart must be broken with the loss of Meulmar, I hope she knows that his memory will be cherished and that his life has given life to many individuals and families. Meulmar’s sacrifice and legacy is lasting.
His father said, “’He always had a good heart. It was typical of him to have given his life for others.” In a moment of chaos and terror, Muelmar conquered his fear and the unknown to sacrifice himself. Like so many other ordinary individuals driven to do extraordinary things for others, Muelmar reminds us of our ability to do much more.
We are all meant to live for one another. We are all blessed with the ability to do something more. Even the simplest act of kindness and love can change the lives of those around us and make an extraordinary difference.