RECOVERY PROGRESS. Norberto Dogia lies in a hospital bed at the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center while being treated by a staff nurse on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Dogia, a student and rescue volunteer of the Bukidnon State University, immediately responded to the call of duty when he rescued his family members from a recent fire in their residence in Talakag town, that caused him third-degree burns. (Photo courtesy of May Annet V. Dogia)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Thrust into a situation that required more than courage, Norberto Dogia had to summon all the basics of volunteer rescue work he has accumulated for one critical task: save his family members inside a burning house.

Dogia, 22, a senior student of Bachelor of Science in Electronics Technology at the Bukidnon State University (BukSU), is currently confined at the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center in Malaybalay City after sustaining third-degree burns. His injuries are so severe he is being constantly monitored by medical personnel.

As a volunteer rescuer for Project Michelangelo Foundation's Angel Rapid Rescue Response Team (PMF-ARTT), and in BukSU's College Disaster Management Unit (CDMU), Dogia's real-world application of the fundamentals of disaster risk reduction and rescue was put to the test in a race against time.

Dogia, a member of the Talaandig indigenous people (IP), recalled how sudden the incident happened in his hometown in Barangay Miarayon, Talakag town, Bukidnon.

"It was Saturday (May 14), and we were supposed to prepare some food in celebration of our father's birthday," he said in the vernacular during an interview Tuesday.

"We were busy that day, then there was a power outage, and we didn’t notice at first that there was a fire in the kitchen of my brother's house and his wife could no longer control it," he recalled.

As a rescuer, Dogia said what came to his mind was the “safety first” mantra, as the flames started to engulf the house.

"But it was different (in this case) because it involved my family," he said.

So he rushed to extinguish the fire from the cooking area and put his nephew, James Dan, and brother, Roldan, in a safer place.

However, due to the limited light source brought due to the power outage, Dogia did not notice that the hot cooking oil dripped to the floor, causing him to slip.

He accidentally held onto a curtain on fire, burning his body in the process.

"I heard an explosion, but I still managed to go outside and doused myself with water," he said.

Both James Dan and Roldan also sustained first-degree burns in the incident.


While inside the BPMC, May Annet V. Dogia, Norberto's sister, said they received help from concerned citizens after some groups and friends posted his story on social media.

She said the medical staff told her his body temperature remained at 38.9 on average, and still had difficulty breathing.

In a Facebook post, Rhondell Paraiso, the CDMU coordinator, said Dogia—known by the code name "Flash"—is one of the most active and dedicated rescue volunteers and a PMF humanitarian worker.

"He led our forest fire suppression team who fought the Malaybalay haze in 2016 and 2018 in partnership with the ‘Magbalantay sa Malaybalay’," Paraiso said.

May Annet said they welcome any assistance from the public, and donations may be coursed through GCash: 09555566259. (PNA)