Saturday, Sep 19

Happiness amidst tragedy

December 12, 2018 | Charissa Tulinao

The streets of Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City were in chaos last Sunday, December 9, 2018 as a fire struck the homes of 40 families. Tzu Chi volunteers held a relief distribution on December 12, 2018 wherein the victims received goods such as rice, blankets and used clothes. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

Story Highlights

  • A fire struck the homes of residents in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City last Sunday. On December 12, 2018, Tzu Chi conducted a fire relief to a total of 40 families and distributed goods such as rice, blankets, slippers, pots, utensils, and biscuits.


It was a calm Sunday afternoon when the humble community of Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City was struck by a fire caused by faulty electrical wirings that destroyed 40 residential houses leaving the families in dire need of help.

On December 9, 2018, as 40 families of Barangay Holy Spirit casually go through their routine, a fire broke out in one of their neighbor’s home. At about 1:00 pm, they started hauling family members and valuables out of their smoke induced blazing homes. After an hour, the fire was declared out and one casualty was reported.

Tzu Chi volunteers conducted a fire relief for the families on December 12, 2018 and distributed goods such as rice, pots, used clothes, and blankets. The distribution began with volunteers giving out stubs, and a short program that consisted of an introduction to Tzu Chi’s missions, and a prayer.

Rodolfo Azarcon, 53 shared that he was happily having lunch with his wife and grandchild when they heard their neighbours shouting about a fire. They quickly evacuated their house, leaving everything behind to prioritize their safety.

His wife, Florence Azarcon attended the relief distribution, and he couldn’t be more thankful for the blessings that his family and the whole community were receiving, “We’re all thankful because of the continuous help. Thank you to everyone who helped, and of course, to Tzu Chi,” said Rodolfo.

20 year-old Steven Zubiano expressed his appreciation to Tzu Chi’s immediate help. It was unfortunate that his home was affected by the fire, but he knew that Tzu Chi’s assistance would help them get back up their feet as he had been witnessing their guidance since he was 10 years old. As a long term beneficiary, Steven has been receiving help from the foundation since he was a Grade 4 student at Old Balara Elementary School.

“I have no parents here and I was only able to continue studying because of Tzu Chi’s support. I studied in Old Balara Elementary School and that is where the volunteers met me. From that time on, they started doing home visits and that continued until now,” Zubiano narrated.

He was on his on the job training when the fire happened, a friend called him to rush home immediately. his 69 year- old grandmother Yolanda Nemis and other relatives were home that Sunday afternoon. “One of my children told me that there was a fire so I panicked and rushed to our store looking for the money that our neighbours gave me for the electricity bill since I’m the one assigned to collect them. That was the only valuable I was able to save,” said Nemis.

She couldn’t hold back her tears as she remembered that she was briefly separated from her family members during the fire, but she was also relieved to know that everyone was safe and unharmed.

“It’s okay that we lost our belongings as long as we all are alive and well. I’m truly thankful to Tzu Chi because they helped us a lot and I hope they continue to help other people who are suffering,” Nemis stated.

Volunteers who were once recipients during Typhoon Ondoy conveyed their happiness of being able to give back and help those in need.

“Whenever I join fire reliefs such as this one or in any kind of relief, the feeling of helping others is really different compared to not doing anything at all. I feel so happy that I get to help them and that I have the opportunity to do so,” said 31-year old Wifredo Ortiz.

“When you give, even if you’re just an ordinary person, our help is still a big impact to others. It feels great because even if we can’t provide a huge amount of financial help, our presence is more than enough,” said Shirley Pista, 49, and a volunteer for almost 7 years.

  • Overview of the houses burned down by last Sunday’s fire. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Residents clear the streets of burnt rooftops and debris in order for them to start moving on with the unfortunate tragedy and slowly recover. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Rodolfo Azarcon scans the salvaged toys of his grandchild. He is thankful that none of his family members was hurt, and that they were able to save some of their valuables from the fire. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Yolanda Nemis, the grandmother of long term beneficiary Steven Zubiano cries as she prays with the volunteers and her fellow residents who were victimized by the fire. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Expressing her gratefulness to the volunteers, Yolanda Nemis tearfully receives the goods in the eco bag provided and she showers them with words of appreciation. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Volunteering for almost 7 years, Shirley Pista shares her experiences with Tzu Chi to the victims and reassures them by providing encouragement and comfort. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Rodolfo Azarcon’s wife, Florence receives the relief from volunteer, Wilfredo Ortiz. As he was once a recipient, he understood the pain and suffering the victims are going through. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】