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Relief aid, heartfelt sharing lead fire victims to accept misfortune

June 21, 2012 | Lineth Brondial

Fire victim Lolit Sarreal gratefully accepts the jam-packed of relief items handed to her by one volunteer of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines. For her, it was the most bountiful gift ever provided to them. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

Story Highlights

  • A total of 24 fire victims received relief supplies for their families from Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines last June 21. Until present time, they are still staying at the covered court in Barangay Apolonio Samson, Quezon City after a blast on June 18 left them homeless.

  • Fire victim Lolit Sarreal was very happy for the 10-kilo sack of rice provided to them on that day. She and the other families also received a bagful of other basic home items from the Tzu Chi volunteers.

  • The fire victims were encouraged to maintain gratitude over the misfortune that struck them. They were offered comforting stories of great love and a universal prayer was led by Tzu Chi volunteers.

  • The fire burned 11 houses and four classrooms of Apolonio Samson Elementary School in Q. Drive, Bgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City last June 18.


To succor the 24 families wailing for their destitute situation after the fire disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers went to provide them with basic relief supplies, including a 10-kilo sack of rice.

The relief distribution took place at the covered court in Kaingin Road, Barangay Apolonio Samson, Quezon City around 1:30-3pm on June 21.

The rice was the most precious for fire victim Lolit Sarreal, 41, a housewife and a mother to three children. For nearly four days as of this time, they have been lacking food supply as they also don’t have the budget to buy their basic needs.

When Tzu Chi volunteers showed the items on that day, Sarreal clapped for happiness as they were yet to receive complete supply of their necessities.

“I said ‘wow’ because they prepared too many items for us. We are happy because what they gave was complete with all our basic needs; there were a casserole, a blanket, a sleeping mat and especially the 10-kilo rice,” she happily said.

Other items given to them were one Tzu Chi recyclable bag, a pack of used clothing, one detergent bar, a bottle of hand sanitizer, four spoons, four forks, four plates, four tumblers and slippers.

Not one of their possessions was spared from the two-hour fire, even the credentials of her eldest son who is applying for work. Sarreal acquired some bruises in her failed attempt to salvage some of their belongings.

“It was very unfortunate that all his (eldest son) requirements for work were burned. Now, it was like we lost our hope,” she said, adding that even the drums being used by her musician husband to earn an income was also destroyed.

At least 11 houses at the residential house in the barangay’s Q. Baetiong Drive were totally burned down when a gas stove exploded around 5:30pm on June 18.

The huge blast also caught four classrooms of the Apolonio Samson Elementary School nearby. Fortunately, no students were hurt as the fire came just when the students are dismissed.

The classrooms were being occupied by grade six pupils, approximately 200 in total. One of the teachers, Loreta Vicente, shared it was the first time in her 13 years of teaching career that there had been such a fire to eat up part of the school facility. There had been two other histories of fire disasters outside the campus but the blasts spared the school.

“A parent called to inform me that the fire was consuming row of classrooms of grade six, one happened to be our classroom. I hurried to see the extent of affectations. I saw the fire consuming the ceilings and walls, all others were ashes,” she said.

Vicente related that all facilities inside the rooms were destroyed such as the chairs, tables and teaching devices like charts and some books.

Meanwhile, during the program prior the relief distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers told the fire victims to maintain gratefulness despite such ill-fated occurrence.

“This may perhaps be the collective karma we formed during our previous lives. It is also our karma to meet and help you despite being strangers to each other. By now, let us accept our fate and be happy for this is also our chance to sow blessings and create good karma for our next lives,” the volunteer shared.

At this point, the Tzu Chi volunteer introduced how Tzu Chi Foundation began nurturing people’s good hearts through the bamboo coin bank. For first time in 1966, Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen shared it with 30 housewives who saved 0.50 cents of Taiwan dollar taken from their daily market money. The collective effort allowed them to fund the first Tzu Chi project which benefited an elder care recipient.

The realization that one’s small effort, if shared with others, can grow into a huge contribution was then spread around the world.

After the sharing, the 24 fire victims, as well as the barangay officials and attendees, have all gave their spared coins to the coin cans passed around by Tzu Chi volunteers knowing it would be used for a good cause.

Prior this, the total 16 Tzu Chi volunteers and staff led a prayer to ease the fire victims’ downhearted spirits. They have inspired them through the Tzu Chi song “One Family” and taught them the sign languages of “thank you” to others and “I love you” to parents.

To receive their relief aid, the fire victims stood in line before the Tzu Chi volunteers and both bowed in respect to each other.

  • With warm smiles, Tzu Chi volunteers give out relief stubs to 24 fire-stricken families who were left homeless after the June 18 fire. These families have been staying at the barangay's covered court while still looking for ways to recover from the tragedy. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Prior the actual relief distribution, a fire victim humbly accepts the stub being handed by a Tzu Chi volunteer. Each of the families stood in an orderly line following the Tzu Chi manner. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Inspired by the kindness that Tzu Chi Foundation does for the needy, these fire victims learn the sign language of thank you by heart and offer it to Tzu Chi volunteers. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Like a seed that sprouted into a seedling and into a fully grown tree is the metaphor that this Tzu Chi volunteer light-heartedly shares to the fire victims regarding Tzu Chi Foundation's efforts to bring love--starting from small communities to the whole world. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • These Tzu Chi volunteers show the relief items which the fire victims will later on receive. Included in the goods is a 10-kilo sack of rice among other basic necessities. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Through a sign language, Tzu Chi volunteers show the fire victims that Tzu Chi Foundation embraces everyone as a family. Moved by their action, the fire victims joined in singing the song "One Family" with the volunteers. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Realizing that great love knows no reservations, these fire victims willingly deposit whatever amount of money they have to pass on the help to other disaster victims through Tzu Chi Foundation. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Trusting that a willing heart is more important than any amount, this Tzu Chi volunteer gladly accepts the donation of Lolit Sarreal, one of the 24 families left homeless by the fire incident last June 18. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer and a fire victim return smiles to each other during the relief aid distribution last June 21. Both were grateful for the blessing of being able to give and receive. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • A fire victim receives a 10-kilo sack of rice from a Tzu Chi staff. Like the 24 other families, she also received a bagful of relief items during the aid distribution. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Chairman Casiano dela Cruz helps in handing relief supplies to his constituents in Barangay Apolonio Samson who were affected by the fire incident in a residential area in Q. Baetiong Drive. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】


  • 20120627 Fire Survey Stub Distribution & Fire Relief in Barangay Apolonio Samson QC

  • LAST UPDATED: October 05, 2018 17:10 PM