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January 31, 2018

Fire relief reveals two cases in dire need of aid

Following the fire that displaced nearly a hundred families of Barangay Parang, Marikina City, Tzu Chi volunteers on January 30 brought relief goods such as rice, dinnerware, and clothes. A total of 88 families benefitted from the relief activity.


By Jonas Trinidad



In the aftermath of a fire that razed an impoverished community in Marikina City, local Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to provide aid to the affected families. In the process, they earmarked two cases for immediate assistance.


A fire of unknown cause broke out on January 25 along Gen. Ordoñez St., Barangay Parang, Marikina City. Locals and firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control within the hour, but nearly 100 families were left homeless. No deaths were recorded, but resident Roland Balaston was injured trying to get away from an alleged gas tank explosion.


Five days after the fire, Tzu Chi responded by sending volunteers from nearby Barangay Nangka to assist in the distribution of relief goods. A total of 88 families received fresh clothes, dinnerware, sleeping mats, and ten kilos of rice, among others. Although the families have been receiving steady support from the local government and concerned citizens, community leader Rosario Tagle appreciates Tzu Chi’s help.


“We’re grateful that Tzu Chi never left us in our time of need,” says Tagle.


“At least we now have something we can use, since we were hardly able to save anything apart from ourselves,” says Jineffer Balaston, Roland’s wife.


“I’m thankful that there are still people like [Tzu Chi] who help the needy,” says Ermalyn Moreno, whose sari-sari store was razed in the disaster.


The local government of Marikina promises aid to the families in resettling the razed compound, mainly by providing building materials.



Priority aid


Overseeing the relief activity, Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, learned about two cases he deemed in need of immediate assistance.


One is 67-year-old Zenaida Lumabi who suffers from terminal-stage breast cancer. Although her house was spared, her neighbors had to lift her to safety, as her disease has rendered her all but catatonic. Adding to the family’s woes is her son Ricardo battling leukemia. Tagle referred her case to the volunteers, in which Siao arranged for a hospital bed to be delivered the next day.


“We lift her up as many as three times a day, but we lose heart when she feels discomfort every time we do so. So, the hospital bed is a big help to us,” says Zenaida’s daughter Amelia, overwhelmed by the show of charity.


“We know that [Zenaida’s] case is terminal. We know her time may be quite limited. But if we can do something for her, to bring some relief for the family and the patient, I believe this is something that is worthwhile,” says Siao about Zenaida’s situation.


The volunteers also tagged the case of 14-year-old Michael Ray Dela Cruz as a priority. Crippled due to premature birth, Michael Ray had to crawl his way to safety. His wheelchair—assistance from the local government—was lost in the fire. Siao arranged to provide him a new one.


As soon as he received it the next day, his smile replaced the sadness caused by the disaster.


“He’s happy with his new wheelchair. He can go around freely,” says his aunt Sheryl Vidal.


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Tzu Chi Philippines

Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines - Jing Si Hall

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