The Fernandez family expressed grateful appreciation for the kindness shown by Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go when he personally visited them and their fellow fire victims in Barangay 57 in Tondo, Manila on a Wednesday afternoon.
Late Sunday afternoon (Nov. 16), a fire broke out in one of the houses along N. Zamora Street. The fire spread so quickly and consumed rows upon rows of houses made of light materials. While most of the families were able to secure their belongings, the fire nevertheless reached fifth alarm and razed at least 30 structures, including a nearby convenient store and auto electrical shop in the area.
By late evening, the fire was declared under control by the BFP, and while there were no fatalities reported in the incident, most of their belongings were destroyed.
On Wednesday, the Fernandez family received various assistance from national government agencies and kind-hearted individuals brought by the senator himself.
"Ang galing ni Senator Bong Go! said the Fernandez household in unison, led by Alex Fernandez, the 70-year old "Lolo" of the family." (Senator Bong Go has been is amazing!)
As it turned out, Lolo Alex was also the lucky recipient of Go's very own own signature size-9 basketball sneakers, which the senator handed to the delightful senior citizen personally.
"Ang masasabi ko ay napakabait niyang tao. Saan ka makakakita na pulitiko na nagbigay ng sarili niyang sapatos sa isang nasunugan?" (All I can say is he is a very good man. Where can you see a politician giving away his own pair of shoes to a fire victim?)
"Nakapagpasaya po sila," referring not only to the goods and financial assistance given them, but also to the celebrities brought by Go. Actor Philip Salvador and comic Moymoy Palaboy provided them relief from their emotional grief. (They made us very happy.)
"Mabuti na lamang at walang nasaktan at maaari naman mapalitan ang lahat ng nawala sa sunog," Lolo Alex said. (The good thing is nobody was hurt, and we can replace the stuff that was lost.)
"Kahit malungkot ang buhay dahil sa sunog, masaya kami ngayon," he added, thanking all those who responded to their plight after the fire reduced most of everything they owned to ashes. (Even if life is kind of depressing at this point because of the fire, we are very happy now.)
Go brought with him officials from the DSWD, who, according to the the legislator, would also provide them with an additional P5,000 per affected family; the DOH with medical assistance and free first aid kits; the DTI, who would provide livelihood or business assistance and training to qualified victims; the PCSO and PAGCOR with more financial aids; and the NHA, who would provide housing materials through additional financial benefit of up to P30K to those who need to rebuild or repair their damaged houses.
Go even assured free uniforms and school supplies to the fire-affected students.
The senator also announced that every indigent Filipino in-need of medical assistance are now benefiting from the Malasakit Centers being put up in DOH-run government hospitals.
He said with the Malasakit Center, the public could access medical and financial aid from the DOH, DSWD, PCSO, and Office of the President in one place, complementing the universal health care program.
"Noong nasa Davao City pa kami ng ating Pangulong Duterte, nakita na namin kung gaano kahirap ang pinagdadaanan ng ating mga kababayang Pilipino, lalo na sa kanilang pagpapa-ospital, ang pagpunta nila sa iba't ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno para makahingi ng tulong, yung kanilang pagod at ginagastos sa pamasahe. Dito sa ating Malasakit Center, basta Pilipino ka, pwede kang humingi ng tulong dito, kasi po pera ninyo ito, pera ng taumbayan ito," Go said. (When President Duterte and I were still in Davao City, we saw the plight our Pilipino kababayans had to go through, especially when being hospitalized, they had to go to a number of government agencies in order to get the needed assistance, which entails additional cost for them. But with our Malasakit Center, if you're a Filipino, you are automatically allowed to get assistance because this is funded by the taxpayers' money, your money.)
A "go-to guy" (or "go-to person") is considered as someone to whom one turns for help or support. For the scores of families affected by the tragic incident, their go-to guy on that day turned out to be the senator himself.
The fire may have destroyed their belongings and their homes, but through the actions of a "probinsyano-turned statesman" from Davao and his team, the victims may have felt something in their lives to turn out for the better in the end. (PIA NCR)