Pitong Pinoy 2012: Janela Lelis and her story

Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

In times of floods, anyone would instinctively save their own property, and their lives. But while most would brave nature’s wrath for survival, Janela Lelis chose to do an honor-worthy task.

Janela risked her life to save a Philippine flag from being buried in mud in Malinao, Albay during the onslaught of Typhoon “Juaning” in July last year.

“If another storm comes here (in our town), I would do it again for our country,” Janela says.

The 12-year old girl recalls she and her elder brother Edcel were only trying to bring their grandmother to the nearest evacuation center to escape rising floodwater inside their house.

She modestly clarifies, however, that she only retrieved the flag following the order of her brother, who was a color officer in his school’s Citizen Army Training Corps.

“The current was strong but there was a safety rope put up by our town officer. The strong current scared me. Even if it might carry me away, I still crossed it just to get the flag,” Janela, who was recently named as a Yahoo! Pitong Pinoy awardee. recounts.

"He would have to pay for it if it was lost," adds Janela, who had been left under the care of her relatives after being orphaned at a young age.

Her intentions may be simple but it is this exact pureness that continues to inspire Filipinos who saw her photo, which depicted Janela’s selfless feat.

The photo, which was all over social media and news networks, reminded us that although the flag is just a material made of cloth, it symbolizes the country’s freedom, and helped us discover a sense of patriotism.