The chaos caused by the fire that recently broke out in Sitio Palanas, Brgy. Vasra in Quezon City did not stop the people in the community from demonstrating the value of “Bayanihan” that resulted to zero casualties.

Brgy. Vasra Treasurer Reschelle Batobalanos, one of the residents of sitio Palanan A whose house was totally burned down, expressed her gratitude for the help extended by his neighbors and relatives to her parents who were both ill.

Her parents were left home on the day of the incident since she works in the barangay. She said it was a relief that her neighbors prioritized to assist her parents in getting out of the house while she was not around. “Nagtulung-tulong iyong mga tao, kagaya nung sa amin… kagaya ng tatay ko na-stroke siya, hindi naman siya kayang ilabas, nagtulung-tulong iyong mga tao na mailabas,” she recounted.

Aside from the immediate community’s initiative to help each other during the actual emergency situation, public and private agencies and organizations poured out various kinds of assistance for the survivors.

Barangay Secretary Estelita Rayala says they were thankful that many extended their help, “Manila Water nag-standby ng water truck doon, pagkasunog na pagkasunog nandodoon na.”

It may have been unfortunate and saddening that more than 400 families have fallen victim to the fire incident, yet she said they were not left alone in the battle as support from several sources poured in abundantly.

“Napakaganda ng suportang naibigay sa kanila, talagang tamang-tama, from DSWD, sa mga City Officials,” she said, also mentioning all the other organizations that were able to aid their basic needs from food, clothing, sleeping stuff like blanket and mosquito net up to the construction materials which could augment their needs for reconstructing their homes.

Social Welfare Officer 1 Loribel Doris T. Buyucan said financial assistance is set to be given to the victims. The house owners will receive PHP 2,000.00 while the renter and sharer will receive PHP 1,000.00.

Among the affected families were that of Mr. Artemio Cabitangan, 48 years old, who works at the Quezon City Hall. Fortunately for Artemio, he will receive PHP 30,000.00 cash assistance as mandated by City Ordinance 2679. This ordinance authorizes the LGU to give financial assistance to any official or employee of the Quezon City Government who are victims of fire.

What makes this incident tragic, however, is the fact that it’s already the second time the same sitio was engulfed with fire.

“Mahirap masunugan, dalawang beses na. Dalawang beses na same person iyong mga nasunugan. Sila pa rin iyong nakikita mong kauumpisa pa lang (bumangon ulit),” stated Rayala.

The Secretary said power problem is to be blamed for the fire due to some unruly households that use illegal jumpers. Before this tragedy happened, there had already been a number of instances where fire almost broke out also due to faulty wirings, she added.

She underscored that it was only fortunate that the recent fire did not reach Palanan B, the subsequent sitio, because one of the houses in the boundary has firewall or else it would be much harder to extinguish the fire.

“Ngayon miniting talaga (ang mga residente) na kung maaari kapag bumalik sila ay iwasan na iyong jumper-jumper, nakaw-nakaw sa kuryente dahil kapag hindi po nila tigilan iyon masusunugan nang masusunugan sila ulit,” Rayala said.

In light of this incident, Senior Fire Officer 1 Jojit Santiago of the Quezon City Fire District stressed that it is important to know the number of the nearest fire station so that response will be immediately deployed.

Edward Castillo, Chief of Operations and Warning section of the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said that the Quezon City Government is at present giving priority to the safety of the people especially informal settlers living along waterways, fire-prone areas and those along the West Marikina Valley fault.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), who owned the land where the fire broke out, had a dialogue with the victims and other residents. DA, together with the National Housing Authority (NHA), offered the Palanas residents a chance to have their own home. The residents need to vacate the area within the next two years and move to relocation sites located in Norzagaray, Bulacan and Morong, Rizal.