Social Good Summit: A hero in us all
MANILA, Philippines - When Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) struck Compostela Valley on December 3, 2012, it ravaged entire villages and destroyed many lives.
For 1st Lt. Alex Deazeta, Pablo also killed 7 of his men.
Deazeta was the company commander of Charlie Company of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) assigned to New Bataan, Compostela Valley when the typhoon struck.
On December 4, 2012, Lt. Deazeta and his men gathered residents of Bgy Andap, Compostela Valley into two army trucks for evacuation. Flashfloods overran the soldiers and the villagers as they tried to evacuate to the village's basketball court.
The saviors of Bgy Andap suddenly need saving themselves, but there was no help on the way. Had they known in advance that the basketball court was located in a flood prone area, they would've evacuated them to much higher ground. But the team did not have any advance information and had to react quickly.
Lt. Deazeta tried to save his men but was dragged 4 kilometers downriver. Still, his team managed to bring some evacuees to safety before the floods came. Deazeta lost not only his men, he lost his friends.
At the 2013 PH+SocialGood Summit in Manila, Lt. Deazeta's story was retold as a reminder to everyone that heroes do exist.
When the lights came on, Lt. Deazeta was called to the stage. Everyone suddenly gave him a standing ovation. He was visibly shocked and walked sheepishly to the stage.
Lt. Deazeta, the unassuming hero, challenged the audience to all be heroes for climate change. He also reminded them that disaster preparedness is a shared responsibility.
"Sa nangyari sa amin, although masakit mawalan ng (tao), pero di dapat tayo doon bumagsak. Doon din tayo bumangon. Ang lesson doon is not one agency, not only one organization can handle yung mga changes. Yung climate change is worldwide. We shouldn't think na as one individual or as one organization kaya na natin. Lahat tayo dapat magtulungan."
(What happened to us, although it is painful to lose men, but we shouldn't stay down. We should rise up. The lesson is there is not one agency, not one organization can handle the changes. Climate change is world wide. We shouldn't think that one individual or one organization can handle these changes. We need to help each other.)
Lt. Deazeta returned to New Bataan in February and found the residents there rebuilding their lives. "Kung ikukumpara natin, masmabilis ang recovery ng area," he told Rappler, "masmabilis ang recovery ng area, sa tulong ng different agencies at mga volunteers, yung sagingan may tanim uli." (If you compare New Bataan, people there recovered faster. With the help of different agencies and volunteers, the banana trees are growing again.)
Lt. Deazeta is now assigned to 10th IB Division, Moab, Compostela Valley, after a brief posting back in New Bataan. He married his girlfriend of 7 years on May 4.
He is a member of PMA batch 2007.
WATCH the speech of Lt. Deazeta at the PH+SocialGood Summit 2013: