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Kindness in the midst of calamity

March 05, 2018 | Jamaica Digo

Paying the help forward, these fire victims donate whatever amount they can. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Foundation extended assistance to the survivors of a fire incident in Barangay 28, Caloocan City on March 5. The distribution of basic household materials and 20-kilo sack of rice benefitted 56 families.


When a fire broke out in Barangay 28, Caloocan City on February 23, it set kindness into motion around the village. While local government attended to the victims’ immediate needs, unaffected families opened their homes to some of their displaced neighbors, and one resident went as far as seeking help from a charity group. 

Geraldin Señorin, 45, was on duty as a maintenance staff at the Tzu Chi Philippines’ office in Quezon City when news of the fire incident razing his neighborhood reached him. He rushed home to make sure his family is safe. Luckily, the fire was put out before it reached their house. However, 57 families were not as fortunate.

In the aftermath, the covered court and daycare center of Barangay 28 turned into evacuation areas. For ten days, the fire victims slept on the cold, hard floor with hardly enough privacy.

“I passed by the area one day and saw their situation. I felt deeply for them,” Señorin recalls. They have been his neighbors for 25 years. He couldn’t just stand still as they suffer. But Señorin is just an ordinary man, and he is far from wealthy. Alone, he couldn’t do much so he decided to seek the help of his employer.

Tzu Chi responded on March 5 with relief goods composed of cooking pot, donated clothes, a pair of slippers, hygiene kit, detergent bar, sleeping mat, and a sack of 20-kilo Taiwan rice. The distribution, held at the barangay hall, benefitted 56 families.

“These are indispensable gifts,” shares Marialyn Manzon, 25. “These will keep us afloat for the next days. We appreciate the sack of rice and the clothes so much because when we fled our burning houses, we were not able to save anything.”

Seeing his neighbors return to the remains of their homes with wide smiles and arms loaded with relief goods put Señorin’s heart at ease. “It feels nice to be able to do something good. I feel happy to see my neighbors receive help,” says Señorin, who volunteered during the distribution.

Apart from materials goods, the beneficiaries were also grateful for the insights they gained from the relief program.

Mila Beato, 41, was moved when she found out how Tzu Chi Foundation started 52 years ago in Taiwan – with only 30 housewives diligently saving 50 centavos daily in a bamboo coin bank and the sincere wish to help people in need.

Inspired by this story, many beneficiaries pulled out coins and bills from their pockets to contribute. Others, like Beato, plan to turn this practice into a habit.

“I can also do that – save fifty cents or a peso every day [for charity]. It will multiply and will be able to help others in need together with others’ donations,” Beato says.

It may take a while before they can rebuild their houses, but with the hope and goodness planted in their hearts, the fire victims of Caloocan have enough to start anew with their lives.

  • Before the actual distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers dispense relief claiming stubs to the affected families to ensure an organized flow of activity. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • With humility and respect, a Tzu Chi volunteer hands the relief claiming stub to a fire victim. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • A short program before the distribution allows the fire victims to learn about the history of Tzu Chi Foundation and its programs across the country. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers and the local government officials lead the fire victims in a prayer. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • A little girl joins the adults in donating to help others in need. Her gesture proves that giving is not the privilege of the rich and the grownups but of anyone with a sincere heart. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Cheers fill the relief venue when Tzu Chi volunteers begin showing the items that each family will receive. Apart from a 20-kilo sack of rice, the fire victims will also receive plates, a cooking pot, and other basic household materials. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • After the relief distribution on March 5, families went home with arms full of goods【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Mila Beato, 41, is especially thankful for the sack of 20-kilo Taiwan rice, which they did not expect to receive.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Marialyn Manzon, 25, shows the remains of the house where her family used to rent. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】