IT has been a little over a month since Stephen Paddock opened fire on the night of the Route 91 Country Music Festival in the Las Vegas Strip last October 1. The lone gunman killed 58 innocent people and injured more than 500. The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast “Balitang America’s” Nevada correspondent Bev Llorente, supported by California Correspondent Rommel Conclara, covered the news, especially because Las Vegas is home to many Filipinos.
But the story did not end there. Casting a bright light on otherwise dark, hopeless and painful moments during the wake of the tragedy was the compassionate spirit of Filipino-American first responders, nurses, and volunteers who went above and beyond their call of duty to save lives, and to comfort those who have been victims of this horrific killing in Las Vegas.
This is the story “Balitang America” wanted to share, and I was privileged to be part of that night of November 5, when these kababayans where honored by fellow kababayans for their heroism.
As Bev Llorente reported, “Shared humanity came into focus when both Fil-Am and non-Fil-Am first responders came together for a night of healing and appreciation for the tireless work these men and women have done on the night of One October.”
I saw nurses, firemen, police and paramedics, each telling their stories about that fateful night. I saw many of them teary eyed, not only because of the memory of that horrific tragedy, but because on that night of November 5, a reception was held to honor them, and give them the recognition they so rightfully earned.
Each one of them was called and given his or her certificates by my good friend Dr. Noel Fajardo of Las Vegas Gastroenterology who sponsored and hosted the event, along with another good friend, Consul General of Los Angeles Adel Cruz.
“After the tragedy, I wanted everyone to feel that we are part of the Las Vegas community, and the Filipino-American community is part of that community, and vice versa…That we are here, we are here to stay, and that we are all Vegas strong,” Dr. Noel Fajardo said.
Consul General Adel Cruz beautifully described the spirit of the moment, “Itong gabing ito ay para sa mga first responders. They were there at that time when people needed them the most. They sacrificed their own time…Our Filipino “bayanihan’ spirit was replicated and showcased tremendously and that made us all proud.”
These simple men and women were not expecting this recognition in a five-star hotel in Las Vegas. They just did what they had to do. It was what they were sworn to do.
“It gives us inspiration to do more because it is our job to help out. But sometimes, when you actually get recognized, it inspires you,” said Fil-Am first responder Warren Mangio,
Bev Llorente said that in covering this event since the tragedy happened on October 1, she saw that first hand in these first responder — the strength and resilience that united the Filipino-American community in Las Vegas.
MARAMING SALAMAT PO!
* * *
Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos