An estimated 400 families will welcome the New Year without homes after a fire razed a community of informal settlers in Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City on December 27.
The blaze, sparked by a gas leak, broke out at around 5:30 in the afternoon and was put out at 1 o’clock the following morning. An elderly woman was killed in the incident while 3 others were injured.
In the helplessness, some of the affected families evacuated in the village’s covered court while the majority spent the night on the streets near their gutted homes with only tarpaulins and cardboards to shield them from the elements.
Feeling for the plight of their fellowmen, Tzu Chi volunteers mobilize this morning, December 28, to survey the needs of the victims as well as comfort their grieving spirits.
Smoke was still clouding the disaster area as the residents, covered in soot, try to scavenge materials they can sell or reuse from the charred remains of their homes.
Jessica Toledo could not stop herself from crying when she saw the Tzu Chi volunteers. Like many of her neighbors, 32-year-old Jessica was unable to save any of her belongings; and like many of the victims she’s at a loss as to how to recover from this tragedy.
At the moment, she has set up camp on the sidewalk together with her two children, mother and father, and a brother. Given their unsanitary environment and her mother suffering from complications brought by Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Jessica’s worries only intensifies.
“We’ve lost our home and all our belongings. It’s really difficult for us that this happened when New Year is just a few days away,” she laments.
But despite the tragedy, Jessica has one thing to still be grateful for. “It’s better to lose our things as long as my family is complete. That’s enough for me. I’m still thankful to God that my family is safe,” she adds.
At the covered court, fire victims make do with cardboards to sleep on. According to fire victim Arniel Guinsod, it had been a restless, sleepless night as thoughts of starting over from scratch crept on him.
41-year-old Arniel supports two children and a wife from working as a cook. Until he is sure his family is settled, he can’t leave their side.
“What we really need right now are basic things such as soap, clothes especially for the children, food also because we have no place to cook now. These are all what we need because we were really unable to save anything from the fire,” Arniel says.
Tzu Chi volunteers began coordinating with the local government and are now planning their relief efforts. Apart from providing relief goods, Tzu Chi will also set up its Mobile Kitchen this afternoon to cook hot meals as well as put up a medical station to check the health condition of the victims.
“It’s Christmastime – the holiday season, it’s very sad that this tragedy happened to them at this time when they were supposed to be merry,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Jimmy Chua.
“We see that food is a major concern here so we will take care of their lunch and dinner, we will provide them as long as necessary so they will not go hungry. After that, we will provide relief goods. Hopefully, these will somehow help uplift their spirits during this holiday season,” he ends.
A day after a large fire hit this community in Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City, residents are scavenging for materials that they can sell or reuse from the remains of their homes.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
The fire on December 27 gutted the homes of an estimated 400 poor families. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteers find the area still in chaos on December 28 as the residents struggle to clean-up.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteer comforts an emotional Jessica Toledo, one of the fire victims.【Photo by Caroline Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteers visit the fire victims to comfort them as well as find out their immediate needs. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
After losing their homes to the blaze on December 27, the villagers set up camp on the sidewalks and streets near their burnt houses. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteers also provided emotional comfort to the fire victims who lost their homes and belongings to the incident. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Arniel Guinsod is among the fire victims who sought refuge at the village covered court.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】