Zamboanga City

Zamboanga university honors apprentice who died saving fellow students

Frencie Carreon

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Zamboanga university honors apprentice who died saving fellow students

HERO'S AWARD. The late Marine Engineering student, Sammy Bryle Gonzales, receives a posthumous award from the Zamboanga Peninsula Polytechnic State University. His sister Rasheena Ann (left) shows his framed photograph while and their mother Susan holds the posthumous award.

courtesy of ZPPSU

The crowd rises, gently and slowly applauding, most of them crying, after the mother receives the posthumous award for her son, Sammy Bryle Gonzales

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – The Zamboanga Peninsula Polytechnic State University (ZPPSU) posthumously awarded one of its college students who died while saving others a year ago in Iloilo.

The award was given on Friday, June 7, to the family of 22-year-old Sammy Bryle Gonzales, a Marine Engineering student, who died during his apprenticeship at Weesam Express in Iloilo City. 

Dr. Roy Valesco, ZPPSU Academic dean, said Gonzales had shown extraordinary bravery by saving fellow intern Aira Salcedo, 24, and another student from ZPPSU who fell from a docked vessel.

Gonzales’ mother Susan broke into tears while receiving the posthumous award from Nelson Cabral, ZPPSU president, as her daughter Rasheena Ann held Sammy Bryle’s photo.

“It’s so hard to see the mother receiving such an award for her son. Masakit tingnan (It was difficult to watch),” Valesco said. 

A medallion for heroism was also conferred to Gonzales posthumously by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Maria Rowena Muyuella of the Philippine Navy.

Gonzales saved his two co-trainees by swimming to them and bringing them to safety, one after the other. After bringing them to safety, Gonzales struggled underwater, but he no longer resurfaced.

Aksyon Radyo Iloilo reported on June 1, 2023 that Gonzales died of drowning and his body was found about 10 meters deep in Libertad, Lapuz waters after a 20-minute search and retrieval operation by the Philippine Coast Guard.

The posthumous award was signed by Cabral, ZPPSU Vice President for Academic Affairs Roy Valesco, and ZPPSU College of Maritime Education Dean Jeoffrey Mojana.

“When the mother received the award, the crowd rose, gently and slowly applauding, most of them crying, including all of us on stage,” Valesco said. –

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