Ottawan Pinoy dies while saving life, honored by community

By Vanessa Merjudio, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Sept. 11, 2014

OTTAWA, – Many Ottawans paid their respects to their Pinoy hero Michael Lumahang at his funeral last week.

He died trying to save the life of his neighbor, 12-year-old Pinoy Laurent Peralta.

Lumahang’s mother shares that his son and Peralta were fishing when the latter slipped and Lumahang jumped in to save him.

“So I asked the boy what happened,” said Aquilina Tremblay, the mother. “Sabi ko paano ba nang yari. Sabi ‘nagfi-fishing kami ni kuya Michael and nadulas po ako kaya tinulungan ako ni kuya Michael.’ Sinagip ako. Ngayon, sabi niya doon na isa, ‘save the little boy. When I turned around, Michael was gone.’”

Unfortunately, Lumahang was swept away by the strong rapids of the Ottawa River.

Another man who also jumped into the river eventually saved the boy.

Peralta was treated for mild hypothermia and the other man also survived.

The police searched for Lumahang all night as his wife and mother waited along the banks of the Ottawa River until two in the morning.

His body was eventually found near Bate Island the next day.

“I was hoping for, I was praying and praying,” said the mother Aquilina Tremblay. “I guess my prayer wasn’t working. He’s already dead.”

Many Filipinos in the Ottawa community are still shocked by the loss of Lumahang.

He was active in the Assumption Parish, where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and El Shaddai.

“Nakakalungkot na ganun ng yaro doon sa is among maasahang mong kaibigan,” said Eusebio Panuncio of El Shaddai. “Napakalungkot yung ngyari sa kanya.”

“First of all it’s a shock,” said Art Cuenco of Knights of Columbus. “Secondly, for a very young person like him, it’s too much. He’s just trying to build his family. At the same time, we are very proud of him in spite of his death. To do something heroic like that, even to sacrifice your life.”

Michael Lumahang was 39-years-old and is survived by his wife Eva Soque.

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