Surfer Roger Casugay (Photo from Casugay's FB account)

SUBIC -- It pays to be a man for others.

Roger Casugay, virtual unknown in the sporting world outside the surfing community, became man of the hour of the 30th Southeast Asian Games when he threw his chances for the gold to save his Indonesian rival from pending tragedy.

Casugay helped Indonesian Arip Nurhidayat back to shore after the latter broke his ankle leash and was swept by giant waves at Monaliza Point in San Juan, La Union Friday last week.

With his act, Casugay lost his bid for the gold medal. He, however, hit pay dirt when he won the gold medal in the longboard open event against fellow Filipino Rogelio Esquivel on Sunday.

But his selfless act of helping others seemed more popular than his gold-medal show.

“These Games are not only about medals. It is about character, resilience, love for one another and shoring up the faith of the person next to you, something that Casugay has exemplified,” said Philippine Sports Commission chair William ‘‘Butch’’ ‘Ramirez.

Ramirez said on Monday that Casugay would be the country’s flag-bearer on the closing ceremonies at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. Casugay will get his financial bonanza and is expected to pay a courtesy call on President Duterte after the SEA Games.

“The SEA Games awakened the bayanihan spirit and volunteerism among us. The very spirit shown by the heroism of Roger who gave up his chance for a golden finish to save an opponent at risk of losing his life to the very waves they play in,” said Ramirez. “Truly a class act, a solid show of the Filipino spirit.’’

Even the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo praised the Filipino surfer.

But while everybody’s lauding him as a hero, the La Union native stressed that he isn’t a hero.

“I’m no hero. He’s (Nurhidayat) a good swimmer, I just calmed him down,’’ said Casugay. (PR)