Honoring a Boy Scout Hero in our family PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00

41 years ago, January 24, 1971 (to be exact), a young 12 year old lad Boy Scout Roy Babas saved seven lives in a freak accident that happened in Estancia, Iloilo, my father’s hometown. He was the son of my dad’s cousins Norberto and Vilma Bacos-Babas. He was always proud to be a Boy Scout according to his buddy, Jerry Bionat, who now heads the Iloilo Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO)

Since his parents passed away, Roy was taken care of his Lolo. He made a living by working as a pier porter at the town’s wharf on weekends and holidays. He was a jolly boy at the Estancia Central Elementary School.

In a column by Pet Melliza in Iloilo Today (August 2, 2012), Bionat recalls that Babas was at the wharf  when a "freak squall (gusty wind)" blew and pushed the docked El Cano ship at the dilapidated pier of Estancia. The vessel hit the side of the pier, listed and tilted, in the process, throwing several passengers overboard.

Babas jumped into the water and saved five passengers. He dived again and saved two more lives. He was unwavering. Onlookers shouted at him to get up the pier but he ignored them. He shouted back at them: "Boy Scout ako 'ya! (I am a Boy Scout!)".

When the ship smashed into the pier the second time after another gusty wind, the terminal portion of the pier collapsed, sending a pile of wooden crates tumbling down, one of which hit the boy in the water. Babas lost consciousness and second later, sank.

Every time Bionat would recall the story of Roy Babas, he described him not only as a Boy Scout hero but also a model in disaster preparedness. Babas, as a good swimmer saved seven lives during that unfortunate day.  Bionat since then promised to campaign for the latter's recognition as a local hero befitting of having a monument erected to his memory. His buddy was in full Boy Scout khaki uniform as his body lied in state.

In behalf of my father’s family, I like to thank Jerry Bionat and his family for spearheading the unveiling of Scout Roy Babas at his elementary school alma mater last July 25, 2012. Together with Iloilo Provincial Government Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr., the local council of the Philippine Boy Scout, the Estancia Municipal Government, the Department of Education, and the local disaster risk reduction and management offices, my cousin heroic death is now remembered and an inspiration to the present youth of Estancia. .

Bionat wrote a long "ambalaybay" for his martyr-buddy, and let me reproduce three stanzas copied by Melliza::

"Sadto sa banwa sang Estancia/ May bata sa temprano ilo na siya/Ginbatiti sa amay nga lolo/Sa pantalan nadaku kag nanuto.

"Siya magamay, apang mabukod/Sa obra masyado gid ka hugod/Siya Aresgado, apang maamiguhon/Palakadlaw sa tanan nga tion...

"Yadto siya Boy Scout nga akon buddy/Sg grade six pa lang kami/Si Roy Babas ang iya ngalan/Kabuhi guinhalad sa nagakinahanglan..."

(In the town of Estancia/there was a boy who was orphaned at a young age/He was taken care of by his paternal grandfather...

He was small yet sturdy/He was hardworking/He was daring but friendly/ Very jolly at all times

He was my Boy Scout buddy/ We were in grade six then/Roy Babas was his name/ He gave up his life to those in need...")

By Dante Corteza