On October 25, Tzu Chi held a fire relief for the residents of Barangay 8 and 14 Caloocan City after suffering from separate fires on the 19th and 22nd of October respectively. Volunteers distributed goods such as rice, blankets, and sleeping mats for 80 families.
Somber hearts and minds grip residents of two barangays in Caloocan City after suffering from separate fires on October 19 and 22.
In Barangay 14 Zone 2, the fire on October 19 displaced 25 families. Three days later, a fire struck Barangay 8 Zone 1 and forced 55 families out of their homes. No deaths or injuries were reported.
Tzu Chi volunteers held a relief drive on October 25 to both barangays. Smiles and gratitude filled the two communities as Tzu Chi volunteers distributed rice, cooking pots, sleeping mats, blankets, dinnerware, detergent powder, and used clothes.
Carolena Pesimo, 65, recalls the incident as any other normal day in her routine. While watching TV, she noticed that her sister’s room started flaring up.
“Everyone in the house panicked and that hindered us from collecting our things and even forced to neglect our dogs,” Pesimo said.
Her two pets were unable to escape the disaster and perished. But she had the chance to tell her husband and her grandchildren to head for safety.
Barangay 14 administrator Belinda Balansag was shocked at the sight of her house being slowly consumed by the flame. Expected to help lead the victims, she kept her cool and led the initial disaster response—all while rescuing her five grandchildren.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the government, to our barangay captain, to the city government of Caloocan and of course to Tzu Chi Foundation who came here willingly and offered their help without us asking,” Balansag shared.
Jenalyn Rosio, 35, burst into tears as she heard the words of encouragement and the goods that her family was about to receive.
“I was surprised to see that the fire was about to reach our house. We quickly woke up the children and asked them to bring their school bag in hopes of saving even just a bit of their valuables,” narrated Rosio.
Tzu Chi volunteer Asuncion Limong recalls the joy she feels whenever she and her fellow volunteers go on relief missions and how fulfilled she feels seeing the mood drastically change from somber to smiles.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time now, since 2012. I still feel as happy as I was before every time I know I have the chance to help other people especially those who are in need,” she stated.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation for both incidents. But Esperanza Doroja, 41, is certain that Tzu Chi will always deliver in times like this. She had encountered Tzu Chi in the past through her uncle who received aid from the foundation before his death.
“I’ve been telling some of my friends about Tzu Chi. I always tell them that they should wait because I am sure that Tzu Chi will always be there,” said Doroja.