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Fire relief reveals two cases in dire need of aid

January 31, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

With care, neighbors and Tzu Chi volunteers move cancer patient Zenaida Lumabi to her new hospital bed provided by the latter. Tzu Chi found out about her situation during a fire relief activity in Barangay Parang, Marikina City. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Following the fire that displaced nearly a hundred families of Barangay Parang, Marikina City, Tzu Chi volunteers on January 30 brought relief goods such as rice, dinnerware, and clothes. A total of 88 families benefitted from the relief activity.

  • During the relief activity, Tzu Chi volunteers earmarked two cases to receive priority assistance. The aid was delivered to them the next day.


In the aftermath of a fire that razed an impoverished community in Marikina City, local Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to provide aid to the affected families. In the process, they earmarked two cases for immediate assistance.

A fire of unknown cause broke out on January 25 along Gen. Ordoñez St., Barangay Parang, Marikina City. Locals and firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control within the hour, but nearly 100 families were left homeless. No deaths were recorded, but resident Roland Balaston was injured trying to get away from an alleged gas tank explosion.

Five days after the fire, Tzu Chi responded by sending volunteers from nearby Barangay Nangka to assist in the distribution of relief goods. A total of 88 families received fresh clothes, dinnerware, sleeping mats, and ten kilos of rice, among others. Although the families have been receiving steady support from the local government and concerned citizens, community leader Rosario Tagle appreciates Tzu Chi’s help.

“We’re grateful that Tzu Chi never left us in our time of need,” says Tagle.

“At least we now have something we can use, since we were hardly able to save anything apart from ourselves,” says Jineffer Balaston, Roland’s wife.

“I’m thankful that there are still people like [Tzu Chi] who help the needy,” says Ermalyn Moreno, whose sari-sari store was razed in the disaster.

The local government of Marikina promises aid to the families in resettling the razed compound, mainly by providing building materials.

Priority aid

Overseeing the relief activity, Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, learned about two cases he deemed in need of immediate assistance.

One is 67-year-old Zenaida Lumabi who suffers from terminal-stage breast cancer. Although her house was spared, her neighbors had to lift her to safety, as her disease has rendered her all but catatonic. Adding to the family’s woes is her son Ricardo battling leukemia. Tagle referred her case to the volunteers, in which Siao arranged for a hospital bed to be delivered the next day.

“We lift her up as many as three times a day, but we lose heart when she feels discomfort every time we do so. So, the hospital bed is a big help to us,” says Zenaida’s daughter Amelia, overwhelmed by the show of charity.

“We know that [Zenaida’s] case is terminal. We know her time may be quite limited. But if we can do something for her, to bring some relief for the family and the patient, I believe this is something that is worthwhile,” says Siao about Zenaida’s situation.

The volunteers also tagged the case of 14-year-old Michael Ray Dela Cruz as a priority. Crippled due to premature birth, Michael Ray had to crawl his way to safety. His wheelchair—assistance from the local government—was lost in the fire. Siao arranged to provide him a new one.

As soon as he received it the next day, his smile replaced the sadness caused by the disaster.

“He’s happy with his new wheelchair. He can go around freely,” says his aunt Sheryl Vidal.

#HelpTzuChiHelpOthers. Tzu Chi actively works for the welfare of people in need but cannot do so without your help. For more info on how you can help, visit

  • The compound along Gen. Ordoñez Ave. in Barangay Parang, Marikina City lies in ruins after the January 25 fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The local gymnasium serves as the evacuation center for the nearly 100 displaced families. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • This mountain of clothes serves as the overwhelming response of local organizations and concerned citizens to the plight of the fire victims. The victims are free to get as many as necessary. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Rosario Tagle (right), the leader of the razed community, discusses two cases she wishes to be helped. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • Zenaida Lumabi (bedridden) lies almost paralyzed due to her terminal-stage breast cancer. Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao (center) arranges for a hospital bed to be brought to her the next day. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • At the evacuation center, Tzu Chi volunteers show the fire victims that they are one family. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Ermalyn Moreno weeps for her livelihood lost in the fire during the prayer. She hopes to revive her sari-sari store soon. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer gives a beneficiary a hug after the latter shares her blessings 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Beneficiaries line up to receive their share of love and care from Tzu Chi, which includes rice, clothes, and dinnerware. The January 30 relief activity benefited a total of 88 families. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • On her husband behalf, Jineffer Balaston receives the relief goods. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Roland Balaston (right) was injured trying to escape a gas tank explosion during the fire. His work as a plumbing aide will have to take a backseat for at least a few weeks. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Before leaving, Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao learns about the case of 14-year-old Michael Ray Dela Cruz. Crippled since birth, Michael Ray was forced to crawl his way to safety during the fire. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • As promised, Tzu Chi volunteers bring Michael Ray his new wheelchair to replace the one lost in the fire. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • Michael Ray drives his wheelchair around, the sadness once plaguing him replaced by a smile of hope. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In the spirit of bayanihan, Tzu Chi and local volunteers bring the hospital bed to cancer patient Zenaida Lumabi. Heavy as the bed may be, it feels light under the communal unity of people from all walks of life. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • Zenaida Lumabi rests easy on her new hospital bed, which can be adjusted to help her family clean her up every day. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】