Hero bus driver in RORO sinking honored in Senate
Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2013 - 5:53pm
MANILA, Philippines - The driver of a bus loaded on the M/V Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was feted in the Senate on Monday after saving passengers of the ill-fated ship that capsized in waters off Masbate over a week ago.
Novelito Gomez, 31, one of the drivers of the Isarog bus loaded on the ship, was honored in the Upper House by Sen. Ralph Recto, who described the man as "a notice of the Filipino's unwavering bravery."
Gomez said he just wanted to save more people when the vessel sank off Burias Island last June 15.
When the ship was going down very fast, Gomez said he immediately thought of saving a friend and fellow driver on board, who does not know how to swim. 
"I went to where he was sleeping and swiftly plucked him out of the bus that was already half-submerged in seawater. I did not know how I was able to pull him up since he was taller and heavier than me," Gomez said in an earlier radio interview.
The hero bus driver also saved a seven-month-old infant who nearly drowned in the ship cabin.
And when he sensed that the roll-on/roll-off vessel would soon totally sink, Gomez jumped into the hanging life jackets and lifeboats, quickly untied them then threw them to the passengers.
Despite his heroics, Gomez still regretted for failing to save an elderly passenger who perished from the sinking of the ship.
"One of the older passengers panicked, jumped and hit the railing which caused her death," Gomez told the Recto at his Senate office.
Still, Recto called the hero bus driver as a "rarity" willing to put his own life on the line to save their fellow countrymen.
"I wish to do what you've done should I find myself in the same situation," said Recto, who personally sought a personal meeting with Gomez.
The senator promised Gomez to help him look for another driving job.

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