MANILA – A fireman who saved the lives of six people, including a child, from a burning building in Quezon City, despite suffering a heart attack during the rescue remains humble even after being honored for his bravery.
"Nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat ng sumuporta sa nangyari sa akin [I thank everyone for their support]," said Senior Fire Officer 2 Florencio Asonza, who was awarded the Medalya ng Katapangan, in an interview with DZMM on Saturday.
The fireman, assigned at the Quezon City Fire District, rescued six people trapped inside a burning condominium building last Monday. He is still confined at the Chinese General Hospital in preparation for his bypass operation next week.
"Nakaramdam ako ng pamamanhid ng kamay ko. Na-heart attack na pala ako nung nasa 8th floor [I felt my hand go numb. I realized I was suffering a heart attack when I was at the 8th floor]," he said.
Asonza said he was feeling for door knobs on the 8th floor because of the thick smoke when he heard someone shout for help.
"Sinubukan kong tadyakan ang pinto at nung nabuksan ko nakita ko isang pamilya, may isang bata na hawak hawak ng tatay at halos nasa bintana na sila [I tried to break the door down and when it opened I saw one family, one child was being held by the father and they were almost at the window]," he said.
He said the family pleaded for him not to leave them behind.
"Sabi ko, 'Hindi ko po kayo iiwan. Kung anong mangyari, sama-sama na po tayong mamatay dito [I told them I would not leave them. Whatever happened, we would die there together],'" he said.
He left his breathing apparatus with the child while he looked for another way out.
"Puno na ng usok, zero visibility na at mas delikado kung hagdan kami dadaan dahil doon lumalabas ang usok. Humanap kami ng way namin hanggang makita ko yung elevator. Dadaan na lang kami sa elevator [The room was full of smoke, there was zero visibility and it was too dangerous to use the stairs because that was where the smoke was going. We looked for a way out then saw the elevator. We got out through the elevator]," he recounted.
The father of three has been in the service for 23 years.
"Yung ginawa ko pong pagsalba sa buhay ng nangangailangan ay kaya rin po at gagawin din po ng mga miyembro ng Bureau of Fire Protection sa mga nangangailangan [What I did would have been done by any member of the Bureau of Fire Protection]," he said.
"Natapat lang po siguro sa akin, na ako ay nasa sitwasyon na yun. Pero ang Bureau of Fire Protection po ay handang tumulong at gawin lahat ng makakaya namin para sa mga nangangailangan [I guess it was just a coincidence that I was placed in that situation. The Bureau of Fire Protection is ready to help anyone in need]," he said.