A peaceful morning in Calamba Street at Barangay Talayan, Quezon City was disturbed by a massive fire that broke out at 9 o’clock on August 11. It affected a total of 396 families or 1,759 individuals.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) raised its fifth alarm at around 9:30 a.m. The fire was put out before 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
The fire allegedly started after a resident spilled a pail of paint and thinner on the flooring of his mother’s house and lit it up using a match stick. He was agitated when his mother did not give him money for his drug addiction.
One casualty was reported after the fire incident.
Elpidio “Boy” Dela Cruz, 67, was already at a safe place when the fire broke out but decided to go back into his house to save his belongings. He never made it out again.
Meanwhile, two of the thousands of fire victims are Tzu Chi’s recycling volunteers. Annie Santome and Magdalena Nagas lost all their belongings after the incident.
146 families currently stay at Talayan covered court. Thirty-two families have sought shelter at the chapel, 33 families are staying at the barangay hall, while 185 families evacuated to their relatives and friends in different places.
The fire victims are still in shock and have no idea how to rebuild their lives after the catastrophe.
Four days after the incident, Tzu Chi Foundation brought the fire victims relief goods. A relief program was held at the open field area near the Talayan covered court. Residents shed tears as a volunteer lead the prayer for the victims’ recovery.
“We were not able to save our belongings. The clothes we are wearing are what’s only left to us. What’s more painful is that we just buried my son a few days ago. I am thankful that I was able to finish all the errands for his funeral before the fire happened,” shares fire victim Adelina Sta. Clara.
Tzu Chi volunteers worked together from the registration up to the relief goods distribution.
383 families benefitted from the relief operation.
Since most of them completely lost their belongings, Tzu Chi provided each family with blanket, kitchen utensils, sleeping mat, packs of clothes, and other basic household necessities to ease their worries for the challenging months of recovery ahead.
“Most of them are distressed and shocked for what happened to their homes because this is the first incident that a massive fire caught our barangay,” says Barangay Talayan chairwoman Virginia Ongtauco.
Chairwoman Ongtauco also helped the volunteers in handing out the relief goods for her constituents.
“Thank you so much Tzu Chi Foundation. We are happy because of the gifts you have given to us,” says Wilma Magallanes, one of the fire victims.
Happiness can be seen from the faces of the recipients as they received the relief aid from Tzu Chi. Tzu Chi volunteers’ love and compassion brought hope to the fire victims that they can rebuild their lives again.
Annie Santome, a volunteer from the Recycling Center in Tatalon, Quezon City, is one of the victims of the recent fire in Barangay Talayan. She shows her gray uniform from Tzu Chi which is one of the first things she has saved from the fire. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A resident tries to remove the rusty metal on his house’ window. He may not be able to use it again but he can sell it in junkshop and use the money for his other expenses. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The volunteers arrange the relief goods for the distribution. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Prior to the actual distribution, fire victims gather for Tzu Chi’s relief program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The volunteers and fire victims fervently pray at the opening program of the relief operation. Some were in tears as they relive their memories of the disaster. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A resident cries in despair during the opening prayer of the program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The residents wholeheartedly donate in the Tzu Chi Coin Bank as a way to help others who are also in need. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A total of 383 families lined up for the relief goods distribution. Each fire-affected family received basic household items such as blanket, kitchen utensils, sleeping mats, and packs of clothes. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Barangay Talayan Chairwoman Virginia Ongtauco helps in distributing the relief goods for her constituents. She has been serving since 2007 and the recent fire is the most destructive that happened to their community under her leadership. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A recipient is all smiles at the relief goods distribution. Residents are grateful for the help that the foundation has given to them. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】