Heroic OFW who saved Chicago couple from fire, dies

Posted at 02/18/14 10:46 AM

CAGAYAN DE ORO – An overseas Filipino worker, who saved two patients from a fire in Naperville, Chicago last December, died on Monday.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Allen Wish "Awish" Belaguas died at a Rainbow Hospice facility at 5:35 p.m. Sunday.

The 21-year-old Belaguas was working as an in-home caregiver for Tom and Jan Lambert, when a fire hit their home last December 18.

He had already saved two of the couple's relatives when he went back inside the burning house to save Tom, a brain cancer patient, and Jan, who was blind.

He suffered third degree burns and damage to his lungs and was in a coma for two months.

Belaguas' relatives in Cagayan de Oro are asking for assistance for the immediate repatriation of his remains, but they are facing a problem – Belaguas was not registered with the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.

Eugene Mesias, welfare officer III of OWWA-10, said the agency can help with the repatriation, but Belaguas is not entitled to benefits since he was not a member of the OWWA.

“Kung di sya member ng OWWA, wala syang makukuhang benefits, pero matutulungan naman namin sila sa repatriation through referral. Kailangan lang nilang pumunta sa DFA para mag-execute ng affidavit of acceptance of human remains,” Mesias said.

“Gusto sana namin na makita sya sa kahuli-hulihang pagkakataon,” Josebel Saligumba, an aunt of Belaguas, said.

Meanwhile, a certain George Pierson has launched an online campaign to raise funds for the repatriation of Belaguas' remains. -- With report from Maricel Butardo, ABS-CBN News Iligan