As a big breather from almost mass shooting incident every day all over the United States, we get this report that a Filipino Canadian was finally given a silver medal award for bravery in helping to subdue a deranged man firing a rifle in a local Canadian pub that resulted to the arrest of the gunman and avoided the incident from getting worse last year.
The award and medal was given to Capas Tarlac native and Marikina resident Mariano Ong, a continuing care (nursing) aide in Saskatchewan Hospital mental facility, were just as precious and inspiring for all Filipinos just the same at a time in the pandemic when hate crimes incidents against Asians, Filipinos included, are at its peak and the previously mentioned mass shootings that continue to haunt the United States resulting to loss of many innocent lives.
Ong was one of the diners at the packed pub when a man toting a Convertible .22 rifle suddenly entered the pub fired his gun hitting the ceiling prompting him to react quickly and, together with three other diners from other tables, put his crisis intervention training to work to wrestle the firearm from the suspect before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police came minutes later .
Ong recalled that he and his co-delegates in a March 3, 2020 Canadian Union for Public Employees Convention in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada when his group around fifteen delegates decided to have dinner in a restaurant nearby to unwind and end their full day.
They have not yet settled on their seats to order food when the gunman suddenly entered the restaurant and fired his gun unprovoked initially hitting the ceiling.
“Since he was about three meters from me, I advised my friends to duck and hide. After firing a second shot, I instinctively jumped on him and after a brief struggle, I was able to wrestle away from him his firearm which I came to identify later as Convertible .22 Rifle,” recounted Ong. “My desire that no one should be a shooting victim and that nothing more serious should happen may have been the reason for me to react that way. I did not even have any feeling of fear for my own safety.”
Ong believes that his training at Saskatchewan hospital mental facility in restraining misbehaving patients and his previous educational and training background being a criminology graduate and board passer from the Philippine College of Criminology kicked in and may have also contributed in his decision to act that way.
“I asked a friend to turn over the firearm that I wrestled away from the gunman to the restaurant manager for safekeeping since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have not arrived yet,” Ong remembered. “When Saskatoon police came, they took over the situation took custody of the gunman and we went back to the hotel after all those involved gave their statements.”
Ong and company did not, however, stay long enough at the scene to be seen by media reporters and the other three were the only ones were interviewed by the media and subsequently given the award by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (RCHA) on August 20, 2020.
As a result of the incident and the struggle he had with the gunman, Ong suffered torn ligament injuries on both shoulders that prompted him to stay off work from March 6, 2020 to January 2021 to heal and recover.
But while he was on the way to full recovery, he found had his wage and treatment claims cancelled from October 2020 to January 2021 which the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) should have taken care of and he still awaits reimbursement from.
“The WCB should have taken care of my lost income and the treatment needed to recover from the injury,” Ong maintains. “Then WCB asked me why I was not among the RCHA awardees August of last year which I then do not know the answer to.”
Then early this year, the RCMP called Ong to inquire of his role in the Marc 2020 shooting incident as part of their yearly inventory report.
Shortly after, someone from the Royal Canadian Humane Association called him up to confirm, though months later, that he was at the place when the shooting happened and what his actual participation was.
After a week, the Silver Medal of Bravery and its Certificate were sent to Ong by mail as there was no formal presentation of the award due to the pandemic..
Ong went back to work January 25 after ten months of healing and recovery but still awaits for his compensation reimbursements that his RCHA award would surely support.
“I realized on hindsight that what I did was risky after numerous mass shooting incidents now in the U.S.,” Ong thought. “Canada also had its own Nova Scotia series of shooting and arson attacks April 18-19 2020 where 22 were killed. It suddenly dawned on me, who would take care of my family and my loved ones who depend on me if something bad happened to me then?”
Ong, nevertheless, reiterated that he did not regret what he did on that day in March last year and he will still do the same if given another chance even if he does not get anything in return nor be recognized for doing so.
“I was flattered that after a year, they recognized what I did. I was even recently asked to deliver a speech in the council meeting of the City of North Battlefprd where I am a resident of and I recounted what happened in the shooting incident,” Ong narrated. “I was overjoyed that I did something good for Filipinos living and working abroad. It was truly honorable to be given an award for helping avoid a possible mass shooting of innocent lives that my loved ones and other Filipinos can truly be proud of.”
It learned later that the 25-years-old gunman was convicted and sentenced to serve a five-year imprisonment term as it was also determined that he was suffering from some mental issues.
It is also noted that Ong worked at Sakatchewan Hospital mental facility where those who committed crimes but are found to have mental issues are being rehabilitated for possible release back to society if warranted.