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Regino L Gonzales, Jr.

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Small Heroes: Andy
By Regino L Gonzales, Jr.
Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Small heroic deeds that matter will never be known to many. But they remain an inspiration of a lifetime to those who witness them.








I was standing at the shoreline and I could see it. Paz, my neighbor and schoolmate, was drowning. Her head alternately rose above and sunk beneath the water. Her hands and feet frantically pushed the water down to keep herself afloat. Finally, I could only see her flailing arms.  

In the coastal town of Danao in central Philippines, a picnic by the seaside was a popular way of celebrating the end of the school year. The affair is easy to organize and arrange. Senior students decide and announce the coastal venue, date, and time of assembly. Would-be participants would gather in groups, buy cooked food and drinks in the town market in the morning of the appointed date, and join the rest at the time of assembly. The picnickers would then walk to the designated seaside spot, few minutes away from the assembly area.

Bathing in the sea was a normal part of the picnic and for adept swimmers to teach their buddies how to float and swim. The learners were often tugged far from the shore using inflated interior tire tubes for floating support to condition them to control fear of deep water.

Andy was an average student who was just contented with getting passing grades. His parents owned a small convenience store close to the town market, and were considered a middle class couple by the town’s economic and social standards. Tending their store and with six children going to school, Andy’s parents had practically no time to care seriously about their individual educational standing or progress.

Like almost every male student in our school, Andy played basketball and table tennis and swam regularly at the sea. But he was never known to excel in any game or activity.

Paz was in a senior class in our school at that time. She was an above average student, a little bit on the plump side and had a face that will never be wanting for suitors. Extroverted and a very good listener, men friends like to talk to and crack jokes with her. Living far from the seaside for long, Paz never knew how to swim. She joined the picnic intending to learn it before she enters college. She would be attending college in the coming year in the city and would no longer have the luxury of time for a gradual learning process.

In the picnic area, Paz joined group of five novices to be taught by a swimmer friend. The friend brought them to the deeper part of the sea by tugging their floating support. Learning in the deep will develop their confidence and remove their fear, he said. True to his words, he successfully taught them how to float to keep their head above the water and to swim away from and back to the floating support. He then left them to test their courage and swam towards the shore.

He did not foresee the dangers of the undertow and little did the novices know about it.

Paz noticed that she was drifting seaward farther away from the float. She pumped her legs and arms against the water to glide towards the float but she kept drifting away. Then she panicked and forgot the proper arm and leg strokes to stay afloat.  Now in a state of terror, she did everything to keep her head above water, gasping furiously then gulping seawater every time she sank below the water surface. She was drowning and no one close  noticed her predicament.

Unsure of myself, I pointed to Andy what I saw. To which,he just muttered, “Paz is drowning”, quickly grabbed the float of one of the bathers and swam swiftly, pushing it, towards Paz. He reached her spot, waited for her flailing hands to appear and quickly grabbed and guided them to the float. Paz held on to it like a leech as Andy tugged it towards the shore.

Paz was dazed and vomited a lot of sea water on the shore. When she regained her composure, Andy was no longer around. He swam back to the sea like nothing of significance happened.      

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Reviewed by Marigold Johnson 1/8/2008
I am constantly amazed of the way these acts of kindness from the past were etched deep in your heart, Regino. Few would understand the depth of a human virtue such as Andy's, but it seemed that you saw what was beyond the superficial. There is real beauty and meaning in your story. Godbless...

In Christ,
Reviewed by susan donavon 1/7/2008
There can never be too much beauty in this world. The simple act of kindness toward ones fellow human being will and is beautiful. Keep the beautiful stories coming.
Reviewed by Sheri Uy 1/6/2008
Sure, Andy may not be known to many, but he will forever stay in the hearts of those whose lives he profoundly touched. A simple yet captivating story. Well done. Thank you for sharing it.

Be well,
Reviewed by M. Rafferty 1/6/2008
Simply written yet with real substance. Cool and smooth. I enjoyed this one, Regino.

Reviewed by T. Schwimmer 1/6/2008
You have captured the scene with simple yet graceful words. The message of Andy's heroic act got accross with gentle clarity. Well done, Regino.

Best wishes,
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/6/2008
A thoroughly captivating account, Regino. Very well done. Thank you, my friend. Love and peace to you,

Reviewed by Jean Pike 1/6/2008
Regino, I was spellbound by this story, anxiously waiting to see what would happen. Hoorah for Andy and all of the silent ordinary heroes like him. I loved your descriptions of everyday life in the Philippines. You really brought this story to life for me. Great work!
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/6/2008
Excellent story, Regino, with an important message we all can learn from! Very well penned; bravo!

(((HUGS))) y amor, tu amiga, Karen Lynn en Tejas. :D

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