After over four decades of dormancy, Taal Volcano started to erupt on Sunday, Jan. 12, forcing thousands of people in the Batangas province to evacuate. In response to the ongoing disaster, more and more people are coming together to help those displaced and affected by this natural catastrophe.

Three such good Samaritans are Rio John Abel, Maximino Alcantara III, both 22, and Darwin “Dudong” Lajara, 26, young men, who in what proved to be an instinct to help, braved the calamity and headed straight to an evacuation center in San Jose, Batangas to deliver some relief goods.

On their way home in the wee hours of the night, however, an accident took their lives. According to a police report, the young men’s car crashed into a trailer truck as they were driving along the national highway in Banaybanay I, San Jose, Batangas, at around 1:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14. The report tells that the Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Maximo, collided with the parked trailer truck, which was on its way through the gates of a feed mill.

Page one - Modern-Day Heroes of Taal

YOUNG HEROES OF TAAL Rio, Darwin, and Maximo finished delivering relief goods to the victims of Taal volcano eruption, and were on their way home when they got into this tragic car accident

Rio and Maximo were proclaimed dead on the spot, while Darwin, suffering physical injuries, was rushed to the nearest hospital, but was pronounced dead the following day, Wednesday, Jan. 15. Merril Patrick Morie Cobarrubias, a close friend of these three heroes, confirmed in a phone interview.

“Napakabuting tao ng tatlong ‘to. Basta alam nilang kaya nila at may posibilidad silang tumulong kahit sa maliit na paraan hindi sila naghe-hesitate (They were really good people. They wouldn’t hesitate to help anyone if they could),” Merril tells The Manila Bulletin.

Meanwhile, Rio’s teacher, Noel Datingaling Arasula, posted a statement on social media, saying, “Mas pinili nya ang magbigay tulong sa mga nangangailangan sa oras ng gabi, sa mga taong naapektuhan dulot ng pagputok ng bulkan kesa manatili sa kanilang bahay. Kahanga-hanga ang iyong ipinakitang kabayanihan anak. (Instead of staying at home, he chose to be of aid to the people in need, in the wee hours of the night. Your courage is truly admirable)”

Their loved ones, friends, and the people they had helped are in mourning. Rio, Maximo, and Darwin and their good deeds will never be forgotten.

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