Bene­dicto fire vic­tims ‘ run with­out slip­pers’

Panay News - - MAJORSTORIES -  By Ian Paul Cordero and Daryl Lasafin

ILOILO City – He may have been spared from the blaze that struck a res­i­den­tial area in Si­tio Langka, Barangay Bene­dicto, Jaro dis­trict but Barangay Cap­tain Luisito Vil­larin was as dis­traught as his af­fected con­stituents.

Vil­larin lived in Si­tio Bankers, around 90 me­ters from the clus­ter of houses that fire razed for more than three hours on Nov. 4.

One hun­dred five fam­i­lies in 72 houses – some of whom told Panay

News they were struck by panic when they learned about the blaze on Satur­day afternoon – lost prop­er­ties worth some P4 mil­lion.

“Nakita ko akon mga pumoluyo gadala­gan waay

tsinelas, gawawaw sang hilibi-on kay gaka­sunog ila mga balay kag kagami­tan,” the 56-yearold vil­lage chief told the pa­per yes­ter­day.

But their frus­tra­tion and dis­tress were abated by the pour­ing in of aid from dif­fer­ent sec­tors. Most of the af­fected lo­cals were stay­ing at the Jaro cov­ered gym, which was turned into an evac­u­a­tion cen­ter.

“Wala pa ako ka­panawag sang bu­lig pero na­gatupa ang mga bu­lig sa amon dira sa plaza sang Jaro,” Vil­larin said as he thanked the donors of food and house­hold items. The vil­lage chief ap­pealed for more help.

On Sun­day evening – more than 24 hours af­ter the fire – the barangay coun­cil of Bene­dicto passed a res­o­lu­tion declar­ing a state of calamity.

A copy of the res­o­lu­tion was sub­mit­ted to the Of­fice of the City Mayor. Vil­lage officials were set to dis­cuss on Mon­day evening how they would spend their calamity fund, Vil­larin said.

With­out dis­clos­ing how much ex­actly, Vil­larin said their calamity fund was “gamay man lang (mea­ger)” but the top vil­lage of­fi­cial promised his con­stituents af­fected by the dis­as­ter that it will be spent well.

City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Her­nando Galvez told Panay News the city gov­ern­ment will pro­vide the vic­tims fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Fam­i­lies with to­tally dam­aged houses will get P5,000 each while those with par­tially dam­aged houses, P2,500 each, said Galvez.

One of the vic­tims, 60-yearold Con­so­la­cion Lun­aba, does not have the ap­petite de­spite all the food com­ing in from donors.

“Sa pagkaon lang bas­tante kami di sub­ong gal­ing ako ya wala gana magkaon,” said Lun­aba, who was liv­ing with younger brother Rey­naldo Ledesma, whose house was where the fire al­legedly orig­i­nated.

Lun­aba said she was tak­ing items from their clothes­line when she saw the fire at the sec­ond floor of their house. She pan­icked and searched for her grand­chil­dren, fail­ing to sal­vage any house­hold item.

“Ang nadala na­mon lang gid ang bayo nga suk­sok na­mon,” Lun­aba said. But she was thank­ful no one from their fam­ily was hurt. She also said they ac­cept any amount that could help them re­build a house.

Christina Biclar was do­ing laun­dry when she learned about the fire. She im­me­di­ately ran away.

“Wala gid kami may nasal­bar. Tanan nga gamit, kwarta, biskan isa ka gamit waay gid,” said the 37-year-old house­wife who had been liv­ing in the vil­lage for more than a decade.

Her hus­band was a trisikad driver. Their pedi­cab – their only source of liveli­hood – was razed, too. “Na­ga­pan­gayo tani kami… biskan may ma- pro­vide lang tani sa amon trisikad,” Biclar said.

Eric Me­lano, 48, was at work in the Iloilo Up­hol­stery Sup­ply on Que­zon Street when the board­ing­house where he had been stay­ing for a decade was burned. All his be­long­ings went up in smoke, too.

“Mahu­lat lang kami kon ano ang maabot sa amon [ nga bu­lig] kay board­ers lang kami di, gin­auna gid ang own­ers sang balay,” Me­lano said. “Kon may ihatag, OK lang, if wala, OK man sa amon. Pero tani biskan pagkaon lang kag mga bayo.”

House­wife Nelfa Por­ras, a 56-year-old Bene­dicto na­tive, lost all her prop­er­ties to the fire, too. But she was grate­ful they were still alive and get­ting help.

“Waay kami bayo, waay gid gamit. Lawas kag katarun­gan lang ang dala na­mon,” she told Panay News. “Gina-an­tos lang na­mon sit­wasyon na­mon sub­ong. Maano man kami bi? Im­por­tante buhi kami.”

Vil­larin said it might take about a week be­fore all the vic­tims could leave the Jaro cov­ered gym. In fact, the barangay cap­tain said, some of them were al­ready set­ting up tem­po­rary shel­ters at the fire site.

“I know pi­gado sila, pero may mga gaalal­abot man nga bu­lig para maka- set up sila sang ila tini­ran didto,” said Vil­larin./ PN

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