Thursday, Jun 04

Gratefulness draws hope among fire victims

March 08, 2018 | Grace Limbher Daigdigan

Residents of Barangay Mayamot make do with what’s left of their belongings after the fire burned down their houses. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

Story Highlights

  • On March 3, a fire, which is reportedly caused by electrical short circuits, razed over 100 houses at Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo City. The disaster displaced 170 families.

  • On March 7, Tzu Chi Foundation reached out to the displaced families, showing them love and hope through relief items comprised of two bags of clothes, hygiene kit, detergent soap, cooking pot, eating utensils, 20-kilos sack of rice, sleeping mat and an eco-friendly blanket.


At 10:00 a.m. on March 3, a fire, caused by an electrical short circuit, broke out at Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo City. Residents were in the midst doing household chores while children were innocently playing when the tragedy happened.

Due to the narrow streets, the residents only managed to flee for their lives, leaving behind their belongings.

Over 100 houses were reduced to ashes, displacing 170 families. With nowhere to go, most of them rebuilt their homes using light materials they gathered from the fire site.

When it was declared fire out, Tzu Chi volunteers immediately coordinated with the local officials and paid a visit to the disaster site to assess the situation of the affected families and draw up a relief plan.

For the second time, Janet Olaquir lost her home to a fire and for the second time, she was lucky to have survived despite her underdeveloped right leg, which affects her balance and makes walking a challenge.

“I had to run fast because it was my life that was at stake,” she shares.

Janet was fortunate to have escaped the fire without scratches but Grace Ompad, who was four months pregnant, was not as lucky. She had a miscarriage while trying to save their belongings from the fire.

“I really don’t know what to do. I survived the fire but my baby didn’t,” laments Grace.

On March 9, 2018, she will be undergoing an operation to remove the child in her womb. “I prayed to safely get through the operation, although my baby is gone,” she shares in tears.

Despite their loss, Grace along with the other fire victims, were thankful for the love and care from Tzu Chi, which can help them recover, one step at a time.


Wheel of hope

While the fire survey was ongoing last March 3, a burned wheelchair caught the attention of Tzu Chi volunteer Carmelita Rejano. When she inquired about it, Carmelita found out that the owner was 76-year-old Dianita Lutao.

Dianita had a stroke two months ago and can no longer move her left leg and arm. When the fire happened her youngest daughter Luzvie was cooking next door. “When I saw the fire, I came running to our house for my mother. Fortunately, one my neighbors informed me that my nephews and nieces carried her out,” Luzvie shares. The whellchair was left to roast in the flams – a secondhand, which they bought for Php3,000 with funds that Luzvie and her siblings raised.

Now they don’t know where to find the money to buy another one, on top of everything they’ve lost.

Hearing this, Tzu Chi volunteers were moved. A day after the relief distribution, they returned with a gift for Dianita: a wheelchair.

“When I saw Dianita, she seems hopeless. That’s why I kept reminding her that life doesn’t end with a simple tragedy and that she must keep moving forward. Through this wheelchair, I hope she sees the positive things that life still has to offer despite of her condition,” shares Carmelita.


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  • 38-year-old Janet Olaquir smiles upon receiving the relief aid from Tzu Chi. She won’t have to worry about buying basic household necessities after the fire. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Instead of playing, children of Barangay Mayamot guard the ruins of their homes and the personal items which they managed to save from the fire that occurred on March 3, 2018. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Victims leave articles of clothing that survived the fire on the street for their neighbors who were not able to save anything to wear. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Carmelita Rejano brings the wheelchair to the ailing Dianita Lutao. She hopes that Dianita will see the goodness of the world despite her condition. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Dianita grows emotional after receiving the new wheelchair from Tzu Chi. Her old wheelchair got burned in the fire.【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Apart from relief goods, Luzvie Lutao (right) is grateful for the wheelchair that Tzu Chi has given her mother. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Fire victims consider the 20-kilo sack of rice and other basic necessities as a big help to slowly regain normalcy in the lives. 【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】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers teach the fire victims the sign language of the song ‘One Family’ to make them feel that they are not alone and to bring them hope in this difficult time. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Fire victims realize the importance of helping people who are in need. They donate any amount they can to pay forward despite losing their belongings. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】