Teacher who died saving children cited as hero
ILOILO CITY-“I have a duty. I’m an emergency responder,” Rogelio Lardera said in a text message early on Nov. 8.
That was his last text to younger sister Suzette dela Peña.
A few hours later, Lardera, 52, a public school teacher in Concepcion town in Iloilo, died while rescuing mostly children at the height of flooding and 300-kilometers per hour strong winds from Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
His heroism was given official recognition on Monday in simple rites by the Department of Education (DepEd) attended by Education Secretary Armin Luistro, other officials, teachers and members of Lardera’s family.
Luistro handed to Lardera’s family extolling the teacher’s heroism. The plaque’s message is clear—Lardera’s heroism should never be forgotten, according to John Arnold Siena, officer in charge of the DepEd Western Visayas office, who was at the ceremony.
A volunteer in the municipal rescue team, Lardera was struck by a broken branch of a mango tree and fell off a dump truck near the town proper. An evacuee was hit in the chest and died.
They were among 13 fatalities in Concepcion town, about 109 km northeast of Iloilo City.
A teacher of 26 years, Lardera left behind wife Leonora and four children aged 10, 16, 18 and 20 years old.
The eldest of 10 siblings, Lardera started as a substitute teacher in 1987 and was assigned to several schools before his last assignment at the Concepcion Central School.
Concepcion Mayor Millard Villanueva said Lardera’s death was a great loss to his town. Lardera, said the mayor, was well loved by students and had been very active in the municipal disaster risk reduction and management office.
“But we are also proud of him because he gave his life for his town mates in a time of need,” the mayor said.
Villanueva issued an executive order citing Lardera for his heroism. The municipal government also shouldered burial expenses and gave financial assistance to his family to be used for the repair of his house, which was among those damaged by Yolanda.
The DepEd regional office also turned over P30,000 to Lardera’s family.
Siena said officials are working out possible educational assistance or scholarships to Lardera’s children.
“Despite the pain, we are proud of him. He even left his family at the height of the typhoon to help others,” Lardera’s younger sister, Dela Pena, said in an earlier interview.
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