Nine-year-old Antonio ''Dan Boy'' Fernandez Jr was playing with his younger brother Ken in their yard last June when he noticed smoke billowing from the roof of their house in Cebu's Carcar city. Realising that his five-year-old brother Nathaniel was napping inside, Dan Boy shielded his head from the falling embers with his hands and rushed inside the wooden house.

''I was so scared to see the flames on the roof but when I heard my brother cry, I just closed my eyes and rushed in,'' says Dan Boy, who stopped schooling two years ago to look after his younger brothers.

He found his brother sitting in the corner of the room, frightened and crying. Nathaniel was disoriented from the smoke, so Dan Boy grabbed him with his right hand. ''Don't worry, kuya (big brother) is here,'' Dan Boy said as he shielded Nathaniel from the flames with his own body.

Just as they reached the front door, Nathaniel stopped. A protruding nail had caught his shorts. Flames licked the upper portion of the door as Dan Boy struggled to get his brother free. With one last, desperate tug they ran into the yard as the fire devoured the property.

For his heroic act, Dan Boy received financial assistance from the government and concerned individuals, as well as a scholarship from a university in Cebu City.

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