Around 600 families whose houses were razed to the ground during the fire in Barangay Ermita were given relief goods by the University of San Jose – Recoletos (USJ-R) on February 13.
To recall, three sitios in the said area were damaged by fire on February 5. The firefighters took over seven hours before the fire was completely extinguished. The damages amounted to at least P3 million. Based on the latest data of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), there were at least 630 families affected.
At present, the fire victims are staying in the barangay gym for easier monitoring and distribution if there are goods from donors.
USJ-R, an institution which is located less than a kilometer from ground zero, took the initiative to help through its Institute for Non-Formal Education and Community Outreach Program (INFECOP).
INFECOP Director Rev. Fr. Rouel Sia, OAR stressed that it is important for Josenians to learn the value of helping others especially their neighbors.
“Og naay mga calamities or mga panghitabo, it is our obligation as Christians at the same time as Josenians nga mo-reach out gyud ta kay di baya lalim. I hope nga through sa INFECOP, ang atong community ma-aware gyud sa atong obligasyon nga motabang bisan ginagmay lang basta kinasing-kasing,” he said.
Each family were given two kilograms of rice, six canned goods, four packs of noddles, and a liter of bottled water. The distribution was held at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish(OLMCP). Josenian students, employees, and some parish volunteers helped during the distribution.
Seventeen-year-old Rosalie Manigo was among the volunteers despite the fact that her family’s house were among those which were burned to the ground. She is a member of the Parish Youth Council.
“Na-ugdaw gyud ang amoa pero motabang gihapon ko sa kapwa. Nindot pud baya sa feeling nga makatabang. Ma-okay ra gyud ni basta mag-ampo lang,” she said.
Another volunteer was 44-year-old Rudy Jalaman, a lay minister at OLMCP. Like Manigo, his house too was razed to the ground.
“Bisan unsa kadagko sa problema, maka-smile gihapon ta sa Ginoo ilabina kung mobuhat ta sa atong obligasyon nga motabang sa taong mga isig katawo,” he expressed.
OLMCP Rector Rev. Fr. Nestor Plohimon, OAR said that the parish is open for the fire victims who does not have a place to stay yet.
“As part of the parish’ responsibility to its members, we do our part to help,” he said.
There are three barangays under the OLMCP namely Ermita, Kalubihan, and Pahina Central. Plohimon described that majority of their parishioners are living below the poverty line and therefore humanitarian help is needed whenever there are calamities.
Written by Lorraine Mitzi A. Ambrad
University of San Jose - Recoletos
Year Founded 1947