Thursday, Apr 15

Braveness in The Face of Tragedy

November 16, 2018 | Katrina Mina

Twelve-year-old Aaron Justine Osuyos helps his cousins clean up debris from their burnt house. He was the one who saw the fire and immediately reported it to the fire station. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

Story Highlights

  • Volunteers from Tzu Chi Foundation gave out 10-kg sack of rice, kitchen utensils and clothes to the victims of the November 13, 2018 fire in Tondo, Manila.

  • It is there that they saw Aaron Osuyos, the 12-year-old boy with a brave heart who first saw the fire and ran to the fire station to get help.


The air still reeked of burnt rubble. Inside one of the stone houses, a group of men tried to level a weak post, afraid that it would fall on passersby. In the house next to it was a group of children, hands dirtied and faces caked with soot from clearing up ruins. But in the midst of the chaos was Aaron Justine Osuyos, a simple boy of twelve, who carries a brave heart born out of the tragedy that burned their houses.

It was Aaron who first saw the fire when it broke out around seven in the morning, which rendered 52 families of Barangay 13 Tondo, Manila homeless last November 13, 2018. He was also the one who immediately ran a few blocks to the fire station to report the fire.

“When I woke up, the fire was already huge. I tried going up the stairs, but it was already engulfed in flames. I thought I would be able to save something but everything was already burning. When I went down, I shouted to our neighbors to inform them of the fire,” said Aaron.

“I panicked because the fire spread so fast, I ran to the fire station to ask for help to put out the fire.” Aaron added.

The residents did not believe the boy at first, but then, they saw how quickly the fire was incinerating their houses, they tried to put it out but to no avail.

“At first they didn’t believe me but when they saw that the house next to ours was on fire, they tried to put out the fire with water but it didn’t help.”

Two of Aaron’s cousins were almost trapped by the fire, they were lucky to escape through a window.

According to barangay chairperson Mario Macapagal, the fire was caused by an overcharged mobile phone. Josephine Ignacio, sister of the owner of the mobile phone said that her sibling left it for just a short while.

“The kids were already at school so there was no one left at home. My siblings and I were at work. One of my siblings went out to buy something and left her phone charging at home. When one of her kids came back to the house, everything inside was already burning. The fire was too big to be put out.” said Ignacio.

Since the fire started in their home, Ignacio and her family lost everything. Macapagal said that what residents need now are materials to rebuild their homes, apart from basic necessities, since the families are sleeping on the streets near their burned houses.

On November 16, volunteers from Tzu Chi Foundation visited the fire victims to hand out relief goods that would help them recover from the tragedy.

“We were able to distribute 10-kilos sacks of rice, blankets, pans for cooking, plates, utensils and even slippers.” said Tzu Chi volunteer Amy Fumera.

Residents were all smiles while receiving the relief goods, saying how grateful they were for the things they received.

“What we can say about the help that you brought us is that, you are all good people. The things you gave us, we can really use them,” said Tondo resident Myrna Sagun.

Fumera also reminded the residents to strengthen themselves during these hard times. “I hope they have the courage and faith that they can get through this tragedy that they experienced. I hope they would also be careful so that it wouldn’t happen again.”

  • Residents of Barangay 13 Tondo, Manila clean up scraps from their burnt houses. The people sleep near their houses or on the roads after the fire. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • A group of men pulled a rope attached to a frangible post. The residents were worried that the weak walls and posts would fall on passersby. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • A man adjusts the rope attached to the weak post. Together with afew other residents, they planned to take down the weaker posts of the stone house to avoid accidents. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • A grandmother and her grandchild smiled during a talk by Tzu Chi volunteers in the November 16 fire relief mission. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • Although she lost everything to the fire, Myrna Sagun is still thankful about a lot of things, including the safety of her children and the relief goods from generous donors. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • Fire victims will receive 10-kg sack of rice, kitchen utensils, clothes and slippers from the foundation. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】

  • With relief goods in hand, residents of Tondo head back to their temporary dwellings. 【Photo by Katrina Mina】