THE ADVENTIST DEVELOPMENT AND RELIEF AGENCY AND CENTRAL VISAYAN CONFERENCE OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH responded to the needs of hundreds of families affected by a devastating fire that tore through Tipolo, Mandaue City early morning on June 27, 2019. The fire razed 500 homes and left over 1200 families homeless.
The fire, which was reportedly caused by an unattended charging cellular phone, required almost five hours before being declared under control. The Bureau of Fire Protection had difficulty reaching the fire in the firetrucks as a result of the narrow roads.
Beginning in Basubas, the fire quickly spread to neighboring houses in Maharlika and Espina. These three sitios (smaller than a village) were placed under a state of calamity, with damages amounting up to an estimated P1.3 Million.
The 500 houses and five classrooms at Tipolo National High School that were destroyed left the families without necessary provisions including, food, clothes, and beds kits. Some of those affected have been living in evacuation centers, with their relatives, or on the street.
Adonis and his wife Chona, aged 34, were already sleeping with their 7 children in their house when the fire broke out. Having experienced fire alarms several times before, he was confident that the fire would not reach to their home.
“I went to Espina Village because I knew a lot of people there. I wanted to help them evacuate, but after trying to help them fend off the fire, I saw it grow bigger and bigger. So I ran back to my house to prepare my family.”
His wife and children were able to secure some of their clothes, school supplies, and some kitchen utensils when they evacuated. Despite that, Adonis still needed to go back.
“The fire had already reached Maharlika Village but I had to brave the fire to save my deceased father’s paintings. He was an artist and I treasured these paintings so much because, I may be able to recover the other things I lost but not the paintings.”
Unlike Adonis, 58-year old Nanay Nita Catalan was sound asleep with her husband when the fire began. She was tired from taking care of her sick granddaughter the whole day, and so she was jolted awake when the alarms began to sound. Just like Adonis, she did not expect the fire to engulf her village, but when it began to spread, she knew she had to flee. So with her husband and 1-year-old granddaughter, she hurriedly packed some clothes, her important documents, and a little cash, and fled to safety.
“Our main concern was our safety. It’s a very sad experience for our family, all our belongings were burned except the ones we were able to bring. The money we spent for the ongoing renovation of our house was turned into ashes”.
Both Nanay Nita’s and Adonis’s families are currently sleeping at the Cebu International Convention Center which has been appointed by the Local City Government as an Evacuation Center. They are trying their best to recover from this terrible ordeal.
The City Social Welfare Services Office of Mandaue City provided hot meals to the affected families and the City Government has committed to providing cash assistance for building materials.
Due to the varied needs of each family, ADRA Philippines in partnership with the Central Visayan Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also provided cash assistance of P1,500 to 450 families so that they could prioritize what goods they need to purchase first. Both Nanay Nita and Adonis’ family are thankful for all the help they’ve received. “I am very grateful that my family is safe. I am also grateful to ADRA and the Adventist Church for helping us in this time of need. The cash that we received can help us in buying our basic necessities, things we need as we remain here in the evacuation center”.