Monday, Nov 30

Fire victims witness bodhisattvas in action

April 03, 2018 | Grace Limbher Daigdigan

In the midst of their loss, fire victims felt the love and support of Tzu Chi volunteers through the song 'One Family'. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

Story Highlights

  • Following the relief mission in late March, Tzu Chi returned to the fire victims of Barangay Pilar Village, Las Piñas City on April 3 for a second mission. Another 200 families received much needed physical and spiritual relief.


Seeing the damage brought about by the March 14 fire in Barangay Pilar Village, Las Piñas City, Tzu Chi volunteers immediately conducted a second relief mission for over 200 families on April 3.

Alone at home, Jenina Gomez was fast asleep when the fire happened. Two of her cousins, living in the same compound, carried her out of her burning home as her mild stroke has rendered her partly immobile.

Jenina makes a living collecting plastic bottles to be sold to a junk shop. She earns one centavo for every sack she fills, Php50 by end of the week.

Her income barely affords one meal a day.

“We know that the money she earns in scavenging is not enough to cover three meals of the day. So even if she refuses our help, we still give her food to pacify her hunger. At times, her neighbors or friends give food too,” shares Jenina’s cousin, Mary Rose.

Jenina also suffers from short term memory loss and a hearing disability. A day before the relief distribution, she was diagnosed with kidney stones. Though Mary Rose wants to help her cousin, things are also hard for her as she lost everything in the fire.

Hearing and witnessing Jenina’s daily struggles, Tzu Chi volunteer Ingracia Borbe gathered the necessary information for Jenina to be able to apply for assistance from Tzu Chi.

“I can’t help but feel pity for her because she lives along the streets and people just pass her by. But now that Tzu Chi volunteers have visited her, I hope she won’t be discouraged by the plight she endures every day. There will always be people willing to give love,” says Mary Rose.


Victims react with love

A fire victim herself, Marilyn Tambai volunteered to assist in Tzu Chi’s relief mission instead of dwelling over her loss. She has been active since the disaster survey several days prior.

At an early age, her parents exposed her to charity work as they can’t afford to send her to high school. “[The experience] has taught me countless lessons in life beyond the classroom walls,” she shares.

With Tzu Chi volunteers embodying the teachings of Master Cheng Yen, Marilyn wishes to be one someday.

“Even if it is tiring, hearing them say ‘thank you’ and feeling their sincerest gratitude makes all the effort worth it,” Marilyn shares.

Barangay Pilar Village chairman Tito Martinez was grateful to Tzu for the assistance and spiritual support through the wisdom of Master Cheng Yen.

He also hopes that Tzu Chi can conduct seminars in their community to help the residents fully embody the three vows: purifying minds, harmonizing society, and freeing the world from disasters.

“Everyone was so sincere during the prayer. I hope after all the sharing they heard, they can truly imbibe the importance of cherishing blessings through words and actions,” states Martinez.


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  • Tzu Chi volunteer Ingracia Borbe (right) shows a blanket made from PET bottles turned to fiber. This eco-friendly blanket is manufactured in Taiwan for distribution to calamity victims across the world. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • To keep her upright while walking, Jenina Gomez (right) uses a wooden cane while scavenging for plastic bottles. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Fire-displaced families receive hugs from the volunteers who wish to pacify the grief in the former's hearts and give them strength. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • Barangay chairman Tito Martinez expresses his deepest gratitude to the foundation and reminds his fellowmen to uphold the teachings of Tzu Chi, which can help them have a sustainable life. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • On April 3, Tzu Chi volunteers distributed relief goods comprised of sleeping mats, eco-friendly blankets, detergent and liquid soap, cooking pots, slippers, hygiene kits, clothes, and sacks of 20 kilos of rice. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Marilyn Tambai believes that a sense of camaraderie had permeated the community following the disaster. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Despite losing their belongings, fire victims seize the chance to help others in need by donating. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Apart from receiving relief items, Mary Rose Gomez is grateful to Tzu Chi for the teachings shared to them, helping her see life at a more positive angle. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】