Wednesday, Oct 23

Embracing fire victims with warm love

March 13, 2018 | Grace Limbher Daigdigan

On March 13, Tzu Chi helped the fire-displaced families by providing their basic necessities. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

Story Highlights

  • A total of 467 families received relief aids from Tzu Chi Foundation on March 13 at Camp Karingal’s covered court in Quezon City Police District after a fire razed the residential area at Barangay Botocan, Quezon City last March 6, 2018.


Almost 500 displaced families were crowded into Camp Karingal’s covered court in Quezon City Police District after a fire blew up in a residential area of Barangay Botocan at 6:00 p.m. on March 6, 2018.

Over 150 houses were reduced to ashes. The blaze was reportedly caused by an electrical short circuit.

Police officers assisted the affected families and ensured their safety until they can go back to their respective homes. “It is important for the victims to witness the effort of those people helping because it creates a mentality that they are not hopeless and they can surpass the situation no matter how difficult it may be,” says Jordan Maitim, an active disaster response officer since he was 14 years old.

Fire victims tried to make do with the situation in the evacuation center but it was too small to accommodate everyone. This led the local officials to transfer some families to the barangay’s Multi-purpose Hall, hoping to avoid the spread of illnesses. However, there have already been recorded cases of evacuees suffering from cough and colds, fever, chicken pox.

Apart from the illnesses recorded, minor injuries in the aftermath of the fire incident were also treated.

One of the evacuees, Rizalino Arellano visited his burned house after the local officials gave permission to do cleanup operations, and it resulted to minor injuries after a wobbly wall fell on him.

“When I saw the damaged wall, I immediately asked my neighbor to remove it but he was busy proving that it was still fine until it fell on us,” recalls Rizalino.

He lost consciousness after the incident and was rushed to the hospital. Some parts of his body were swollen and bruised.

He is a retired security officer and owns a convenience store where he gets the budget for his family’s daily expenses which also covers his children’s schooling needs. Recovering will be a challenge especially in his current state. When Tzu Chi foundation arrived and provided relief aid and emotional comfort on March 13, hope grew in Rizalino’s heart.

“I felt hopeless but after hearing the wisdom of Master Cheng Yen through the Tzu Chi volunteers, it made me realize to be strong for my family. At the same time, we believe that we are going to be blessed by good karmas as long as we plant good seeds and cultivate love and kindness,” shares a teary-eyed Rizalino.

A day after the fire broke out, Epifania Calugay celebrated her 91st birthday. Although she was grateful to have survived the blaze, she can’t help but feel sad about losing most of the money she had earned from selling goods. She was worried how she will support her grandchildren’s school expenses.

Despite this, she still donated Php10 to Tzu Chi, believing that she can earn money again since she still has a strong and healthy body. “It feels good to receive help but the feeling one gets after helping someone else, no matter how big or small your donation, is incomparable,” says Epifania.

While everyone is busy with the relief distribution, Edil Manaog sought Tzu Chi volunteers to surrender an extra relief claiming stub.

Like other victims, Edil suffers from the inconveniences brought by the fire incident. Yet instead of keeping the relief stub, she decided to return it. “If I keep it for myself it is an act of stealing which results to bad karma. Besides, by surrendering it, there will be someone who can benefit from it,” says Edil, 64.

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  • Fire victims scavenge for things that can still be used from the ruins of their home. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • On March 6, a residential area at Barangay Botocan, Quezon City was engulfed in black smoke after a fire, caused by an electrical short circuit, razed the community. The blaze was declared fire out at 12:30 a.m with no recorded casualties.【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • With the fire quickly spreading and the narrow streets, it was impossible for the residents to save their belongings. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Fire victims use cartons as makeshift sleeping mats since they were not able to save any of their belongings from the fire. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Despite losing their homes and belongings, fire victims hope to also help others in need by donating any amount they can. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Rizalino Arellano feels blessed to have a second life. After surviving the blaze, he sustained injuries while trying to start cleaning up the debris in his burned home. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Jordan Maitim has been active in disaster response since at the age of 14. He believes that everyone should look out for each other. By doing so, there will be peace in the community.【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao enlightens the fire victims about the impermanence of life by sharing the teachings of Tzu Chi founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Having received two pieces of relief stubs by mistake, beneficiary Edil Manaog handed back the stub to Tzu Chi volunteer.【Photo by Caroline Uy】