Three young Taal heroes: best friends always and forever

by Nikko Tuazon
Jan 16, 2020
Young Batangueños (L-R) Darwin "Dudong" Lajara, 26, Rio John Abel, and Maximino "Maxi" Alcantara III, both 22, died in a car crash hours after lending their hands to the evacuees displaced by the Taal volcano eruption.
PHOTO/S: Darwin Lajara / Rio John Abel / Maximino Alcantara III on Facebook

The "Bayanihan Spirit" is in full display as Filipinos come together to help the victims of the Taal volcano eruption.

Unfortunately, three young volunteers—Rio John Abel, Maximino "Maxi" Alcantara III, both 22, and Darwin "Dudong" Lajara, 26—died in a car crash, just hours after lending their hands to the evacuees displaced by the Taal volcano eruption.

The three best friends were on their way home after delivering relief goods to an evacuation center in Batangas. Their car crashed into a trailer truck along the national highway of Barangay Banay-banay in the town of San Jose at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 14.

Rio and Maxi died on the spot. Dudong, on the other hand, was brought to the hospital, but also joined our Creator on Wednesday night, January 15.

RIO AND HIS HEART OF GOLD

Bro. Dante Amisola of De La Salle University Lipa Alumni Association, Inc. paid tribute to Rio, and hoped his story of selflessness will always be remembered and serve as an inspiration to others.

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On Facebook, he wrote, “Let us not let Rio’s life and his example of self-sacrifice be in vain.

"Let us honor him instead by extolling the values he lived and died for–especially the paradox and truism that there are things and others in this world that are worth more than and beyond our selves and our own interests and therefore, worth risking our life and even dying for.”

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Noel Datingaling Arasula also wrote a touching tribute to Rio, which he posted on History of Mabini (Batangas)'s group page on Facebook.

According to his post, Rio was working as a young line chef at a popular Japanese restaurant, and once served as an SK Chairman in their hometown in San Jose.

Noel wrote, "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."

He added, "Binigyan mo ng magandang halimbawa, na ang kabataan ay may magagawa sa oras ng sakuna at pangangailangan.

"Sa pamamagitan ng post na ito ay binubuhay namin ang iyong alaala at hindi namin makakalimutan ang nagawa mo pagtulong sa mga nasalanta."

Teacher Maria Cristina Floren, one of Rio's advisers in school, was left in tears after learning about her former student's tragic accident.

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In her Facebook post, Maria Cristina expressed how proud she is of what her student had become.

She wrote, "Makulit pero napakabait na bata. Mapagbigay talaga sya...

"Ansakit sakin Rio bilang isang Adviser mo dati na mababalitaan ko na wala ka na.

"Proud na proud ako sayo kase napakasipag mo daw sa work mo.

"Nakakaproud na kahit makulit ka nuon ay may mabuti kang puso para tumulong sa nangangailangan nating kababayan.

"Gone too soon Rio. Mahal na mahal ka namin Rio."

MAXI, THE DEVOTED FRIEND

Niel Doronila was a witness Maxi's good deeds.

In a Facebook post on January 14, he wrote, "Kapatid Maximino Alcantara III di man namin kaya ikaw tapatan sa pagtulong mo sa ating kapwa, pero susubukan naming makayanang gawin ang lahat ng aming kakayahan upang makapag abot sa mga nangangailangan."

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Merril Patrick Morie Cobarrubias dedicated one of his posts to Maxi, whom he considered a brother.

"Hindi man alam ng iba ang mga pinag samahan natin pero sobra sobra akong nagpapasalamat sa kung sino at ano ka kapag kasama mo ako at ang aking pamilya.

"Hindi mo ko iniwan sa lahat ng naging problema ko."

He added, "Tinatanggap mo lahat ng ligalig at pagmumura ko.

"Lahat ng pagod ko sinasalo mo. Isang tawag ko lang sayo nandyan ka agad para tulungan ako.

"Wala ng magmumura sakin kapag mali ginagawa ko, wala na magsasabi sakin ng tanga tanga at aagaw ng manibela ng sasakyan ko kapag inaantok na ako magmaneho."

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DUDONG, THE LOYAL BROTHER

Merril dedicated a separate post to Dudong and remembered how his late best friend stayed with him through thick and thin.

He wrote, "Isa ka sa mga tunay na kaibigan / kapatid / kumpare na hindi ako iniwan mula noon hanggang ngayon.

"Hanggang sa huling araw bago ang aksidente nagkasama pa tayo."

Merril continued, "'Sasama kahit saan makarating' salitang binitawan mo nung magkakasama kayo na akala ko ay wala lang.

"Pero isa kang tunay na kaibigan. Pero sana hindi mo ginawa sa ganyang paraan."

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Zeus Semondac Dimaculangan recalled how loyal Dudong was as a friend.

He wrote, "Kung may matatawag na LEGIT na kapatid/kaibigan ay ikaw na un dahil kahit na hirap ka sa buhay ay hindi ka nangiiwan sa lahat ng aspeto."

Rest in peace.

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Young Batangueños (L-R) Darwin "Dudong" Lajara, 26, Rio John Abel, and Maximino "Maxi" Alcantara III, both 22, died in a car crash hours after lending their hands to the evacuees displaced by the Taal volcano eruption.
PHOTO/S: Darwin Lajara / Rio John Abel / Maximino Alcantara III on Facebook
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