How are they sup­posed to cel­e­brate Christ­mas?

This was the ques­tion raised by Mercy Zamora, 39, who was among the hun­dreds who lost their home when a large fire raced through Purok 3, Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City last Wed­nes­day, Dec. 5.

“Naa ra man g’yod hi­nooy pagkaon, pero mga gamit g’yod intawn sa balay, wala mi nadala. Mga sin­ina, naa ra may daghan, pero mga kaldero, mga plato, mga kalan, balde—wala jud mi mag­a­mit diri (There is food, but we failed to save a lot of things for the house. We have many clothes but we don’t have pots, plates, pans, pails—we don’t have any­thing to use here),” she said.

Zamora said she is not even sure how her fam­ily would cel­e­brate Christ­mas af­ter the in­ci­dent.

“Di pa namo ma imag­ine kung mag-unsa or asa mi ani. Nag­plano unta mi (neigh­bors) nga mag­party gi­nag­may. N’ya karon wala na­man. Nag­buwag-buwag na mi (We can­not imag­ine what we will do or where we will go. The neigh­bors and I were plan­ning to have a small party. But that plan is gone. We have since been sep­a­rated),” said Zamora.

Joan Bis­nar, 29, said her fam­ily needs hous­ing ma­te­ri­als in case they are al­lowed to re­build their houses.

“Kuwang g’yod mga gamit g’yod sa balay para patukod ba­lik sama sa mga sin or ka­hoy kay aron mak­a­bal­hin na mi ba kay lisod baya sad g’yod diri (We don’t have ma­te­ri­als to build a house like gal­va­nized iron sheets or wood so that we can al­ready trans­fer be­cause it’s very dif­fi­cult here),” said Bis­nar, re­fer­ring to the evac­u­a­tion cen­ter.

Kamputhaw of­fi­cials are ask­ing the Cebu City Gov­ern­ment to help them ne­go­ti­ate for the fire sur­vivors to be able to re­turn to their place and re­build their homes.

The City is plan­ning to re­block the area as well as widen the roads if the Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines (UP) Cebu al­lows the fire sur­vivors to re­con­struct their homes in the same site.

Kamputhaw Barangay Cap­tain Jes­sica Cadun­gog said vil­lage of­fi­cials are cur­rently co­or­di­nat­ing with the Di­vi­sion for the Wel­fare of the Ur­ban Poor (DWUP) to lobby to UP of­fi­cials to al­low the dis­placed home­own­ers to re­build their houses.

But DWUP’s com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment worker Moian Bri­ones said there is no sched­uled meet­ing yet be­tween DWUP and UP.

“We still don’t have a date for the meet­ing with UP be­cause our fo­cus for now is for the af­fected res­i­dents to be set­tled,” said Bri­ones.

“If UP will not al­low the vic­tims to re­turn, then we will ask the City Gov­ern­ment for a re­lo­ca­tion site,” said Cadun­gog.

Around 700 Kamputhaw res­i­dents ap­pealed for help af­ter a huge fire hit their res­i­den­tial area in Purok 3. The lot is owned by UP Cebu.

As of yes­ter­day, the vic­tims were given toi­letries such as bath soap, tooth­brush and tooth­paste, and used cloth­ing.

Barangay health work­ers and the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment (DSWD) desk are also sta­tioned in the barangay gym­na­sium, which houses around 180 fam­i­lies.

Cadun­gog said that the barangay is cur­rently repack­ing the do­nated canned goods for the fire vic­tims.

Based on the records of the DSWD, the fire burned 107 houses while leav­ing a Mus­lim mosque dam­aged.

When asked what they will do should UP not al­low them to go back to the area, Lu­cino Omaña, 72, said he still has to fig­ure it out.

“Am­bot asa mi paingon kung di mi pa­ba­likon (I don’t know where we will go if we will not be al­lowed to re­turn),” said Omaña, who has been liv­ing in the area for 42 years.

Four months ago, a huge fire also hit the lower part of the barangay leav­ing around 235 fam­i­lies home­less. /

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