Header Ads

Living up the Bayanihan Spirit

It was Thursday afternoon of June 17. For Antiqueños, it was a no-ordinary day. The peaceful capital town of San Jose in Antique was struck with a devastating tragedy. Something that one could barely imagine. One of its go-to malls in a stretch of highway was engulfed with a blazing fire. Sadness ruled. People were shocked as they witnessed the horrors of the flame slowly turning the structures into remnants of the good old days.

Gaisano Grand Mall Fire

The harsh truth is, employees who put their heart into their job, already lost their bread and butter. Some pondered, “who would have thought that such incident would occur”. Perhaps, not in this lifetime.

Angeline Marcelo, who was assigned at the supermarket section, recalled the sudden events that transpired.

“Nagdisplay kami kang stocks, abi ko may nalipong lang kay may gapanaog sa escalator nga gadalagan. Wara man kami nagpanic galing kita namon nga duro run, amo to nagdalagan kami pag-gwa (We are displaying our stocks and we thought that someone passed out as there were people who ran down the escalator. We didn’t panic but when we saw that more people ang running, we rush out of the building),” she narrated.

As quick as a wink, Angeline along with her colleagues escaped before the scorching heat reached the first-floor area.

Angeline was among over 300 displaced workers left with a dilemma. The dilemma of wanting to move on from the catastrophic incident and eventually get a job as soon as possible. Breadwinners worried how to make ends meet as their families depend on them. Businesses suffered. Not to mention, the pandemic is a real struggle.

In such a difficult situation like this, help poured in through forged ties of the public and private sectors. Good Samaritans came to extend their hands. No one is left behind, as they say.

The provincial government of Antique recently distributed a financial assistance worth P5,000 to each affected worker. Aside from that, 25 kilos of rice, and packed goods were heartily given to them.

Gov. Rhodora Cadiao spoke with evident concern towards them. She uttered that they are doing their best to get these workers back to their occupation.

“Do not lose hope. Nag-istoryahanay kami kang DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) nga mahimo kami kang job fair (We talked with DOLE that we will be holding a job fair),” the lady governor was quick to assure them.

For his part, Harold Riz Hormillosa, one of the affected mall tenants who hails from Iloilo, expressed his gratitude to the provincial government for the immediate assistance.

He suddenly looked somber, pensive. Harold shared that the cash grant is a huge help given the scenario. He even felt sorry to their clients on what happened.

The local government units in partnership with the Office of the Antique Lone District Representative are likewise taking initiatives in providing support to the mall employees.

According to Mayor Elmer Untaran of San Jose, long-term assistance should be a priority to these displaced workers as means to spur economic activities especially in the town. He recommended to the management these workers be transferred to other mall branches to sustain their livelihood.

For DOLE’s counterpart, provincial director Carmela Abellar reminded of the duties and responsibilities of the employer. She urged the mall management to allot monetary claims to the displaced workers and keep an open communication during crisis.

Meanwhile, the team of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) was lauded for the tireless efforts, toiling day and night to suppress the fire hazards. It was no easy task to begin with. Bravery. Fortitude. Accountability. Team Player. These are a few of their characteristics they continue to exude.

Recalling the tough firefighting scenario, BFP-Antique Provincial Fire Marshall Randy Pudadera shared how they endured the massive smoke and heat. Gaseous carbon dioxide further posed threat to health and safety.

“Based on the testimonial evidence of the sales ladies at the second floor, the fire spread rapidly. In a matter of three minutes, the fire was intense and we proceeded at the entrance part meantime. It was difficult to penetrate,” Pudadera narrated.

The recent fire incident reached the general alarm category which signals the highest form under the BFP classification. In this case, a total of 33 firetrucks in nearby city and provinces such as Iloilo and Aklan rallied to respond to the fire mishap. There was no turning back.

More than ever, it is rewarding for firefighters to pursue their steadfast commitment. That is to save people on what is referred to one of the worst days of their lives.

The road towards healing and recovery is far from over. Antiqueños would still be hunted with the scars of that one fateful yesterday.  Amidst the catastrophe, they, too, would remember the overflowing kindness and responsive efforts of people from all walks of life.

The modern-day bayanihan is here to stay. It is a legacy of the forefathers transcended from one generation to another. This bayanihan culture resonates a profound impact and influence that deeply touch to the very core. (PIA6-LML)

**The story was first published through Philippine Information Agency's (PIA6) Official Facebook Account.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.