Via Inquirer News: Unlikely hero: Polio victim saved 10 lives. Excerpt:
On land, polio victim Wendell Corregidor cannot walk without help. But in the water, he swims like a fish, a feat that enabled him to save 10 people, including six children, from drowning as gigantic storm surges generated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” inundated villages here last Nov. 8.
Three months after the monster typhoon struck and killed more than 6,000 people in Leyte and Samar provinces, Corregidor’s tale of unusual courage and heroism despite his obvious disability has gained for him folk hero status in the coastal village of Baras in this town where he has become the subject of street corner conversations and text messages that have gone viral.
But Corregidor is no ordinary polio victim. He is a 36-year-old ex-paralympian whose exploits in the swimming pool have resulted in his taking home several gold medals from swimming competitions for the disabled around the country.
“He plucked our babies from the waters like they were dolls,” said Rosanna Panubio, 23, who, together with her then 6-month-old baby Tristan Jade, was saved by Corregidor.
At least one of those he saved, 35-year-old housewife Fe de la Cruz, wept openly in front of him after the storm had subsided and the wall of water had receded. He also rescued her and her daughter Apilyn, 14.
“She (De la Cruz) knew that she and her daughter were alive because of Wendell,” said 26-year-old housewife Criselda Panubio, who witnessed the moving scene. Panubio and her baby Keisha Lorraine, then 1-year-old, were also rescued by Corregidor.
Corregidor also rescued his aunt, Leonida Encina, 52, and his nephews, Nelmar Pineda,12, and Mark Neil Pineda, 9.
Strength from God
“God gave me extra strength on that day. But my whole body ached for a month,” Corregidor said, explaining his almost superhuman feat.
Largely ignored by the local press and denied kudos by selfish politicians, Corregidor has found comfort and solace in the praise and eternal gratitude of the mostly poor women and children he has saved.
Asked who saved her from drowning, 5-year-old Ella Rose Duque’s eyes lit up and she shouted, “Wendell!”