Sunday, Jan 19

Tzu Chi mounts quick disaster response amid Holy Week

March 28, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Tzu Chi donor Georgie Mercado is at a loss as to what to do after the fire. Three of her four children will be graduating this year, but they no longer have a home to return to. Mercado receives a comforting hug from Tzu Chi volunteer Eva Valois, an assurance that everything will be fine. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Beating the long Holy Week holiday to the clock, Tzu Chi volunteers mounted a rapid response to the 65 families displaced by the fire at Barangay Concepcion Dos, Marikina City. The response, which was organized in less than 36 hours, demonstrates the importance of having local volunteers as early responders.


A long, benevolent holiday elicited a rapid response from Tzu Chi volunteers, mounting a relief effort within 36 hours of a fire in Marikina City.

In the predawn hours of March 27, a fire razed dozens of homes at a residential compound in Barangay Concepcion Dos. Stemming from faulty electrical wiring, the fire displaced 65 families and would leave them celebrating the Holy Week in the sun and rain. Due to the impending holiday sending families out of town, Tzu Chi volunteers organized a quick relief activity to ease the victims’ woes.

Through cooperation of local officials and Tzu Chi volunteers in nearby Barangays Malanday and Tumana, the families were able to receive aid. Each recipient family received a cooking pot, sleeping mat, two bags of donated clothes, a pair of shoes, a hygiene kit, an eco-friendly blanket from Taiwan, and 20 kilos of rice also from Taiwan. Although the victims were deprived of shelter, the relief goods made sure they wouldn’t be deprived of basic needs while they rebound.

“It’s very important that we have local volunteers. They would be able to respond in the shortest possible time. If not for the nearby volunteers here, the relief might have some delay,” explains Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, who coordinated the relief efforts with his father Manuel Siao.

“We’re looking forward, through our missions, that we give the best possible care, compassion, and kindness toward these people. Hopefully, spreading seeds of love would be able to inspire further loving hearts,” Siao adds.

Local volunteer Eva Valois only knew of the fire yesterday. Fighting fatigue, she contacted fellow volunteers in Barangay Tumana to organize a response.

“We have to help these people since this is our contribution to the foundation. No matter when and where, we have to fulfill our duties as volunteers,” says Valois.

Among the affected residents are two long-time donors: Wenie Nava and Georgie Mercado.

Once skeptical of the foundation’s donation drive, Nava became a full-fledged donor pooling blessings from her neighbors. She understood how the love she shares with other people in need comes back to return the favor. In this case, the reciprocation takes the form of the relief goods.

“Our help may be intended for others, but at least Tzu Chi helps us a great deal,” Nava says.

Three of Mercado’s four children are graduating this year, two from Grade 12 and one with a degree in criminology. A celebration would’ve followed if not for the fire torching her home. Now, she thinks about where to go from here, tears in her eyes. Aside from the relief goods she received, she also got comforting hugs from caring volunteers.

This inspires her to continue as a donor in her community. “Tzu Chi Foundation has been such a big part of our lives. If not for them, we probably wouldn’t be here now.”


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  • The remains of several charred houses in Concepcion Dos, Marikina City bake under the summer sun. The fire on March 27 was reportedly caused by faulty electrical wiring. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The evacuation center sits along the road next to the site of the fire. A total of 65 families will be spending the Holy Week in the sun and rain. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Another evacuation center sits at the end of the road. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Borrowing the tents from the evacuation center, Tzu Chi volunteers set up the gathering area for the relief distribution. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The beneficiaries each get a hug from Tzu Chi volunteers, assuring them of support through rough times. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Despite the fire, Tzu Chi donor Wenie Nava remains faithful in her duty of gathering donations in her area. The love she shares with others in need, after all, will come back to her in one form or the other. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Each recipient received a care package that consists of a cooking pot, shoes, donated clothes, and 20 kilos of rice from Taiwan, to name a few. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】