Benedicto fire victims ‘ run without slippers’
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