Editorial: Sense of community and the Isla Verde fire

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Monday, April 21, 2014

THE residents of seaside sitios razed by fire that started from Isla Verde last April 4 may not have been allowed to return to their plots of land yet to rebuild, pending the city government’s resurvey of the area to bring in proper roads and alleys and dividing the land among the victims equitably, but they have one thing to congratulate themselves for.

Not one died in that inferno that lasted for hours.

That says a lot about the people’s preparedness. It helped of course that the fire started when it was not yet sleeping time, giving people time to rush out while in command of their full faculties.


Still, not having a single fatality in a blaze as big as that shows the difference created by a people who live and survive as a community. Of course, it started as each one to himself, but after the frenzy, there was the sense of community. Menfolk were putting in whatever they were worth. Women herded the children into controllable groups. There may have been a lot of crying and screaming, but that’s understandable. Amid the uproar, there was an unspoken system of coping.

It’s been weeks now since they have all been settled in at evacuation centers and there have been no reports of crimes happening among them. That says a lot about how, while they may be suffering from the discomfort inside an evacuation center, they are still holding on as a community who are in the same bad situation and are thus trying to make the best of what they have at the moment.

It also says a lot about how they respect authorities and are quietly making do while the government finishes subdividing the land for them to move in and rebuild their homes.

Here’s to hoping that in moving back in, they bring the harmonic co- existence that made life in the evacuation centers better than the squalid places evacuation centers tend to turn into; and yes, learn the lesson behind this major disaster in their collective lives – how they are people of the same community and that they alone can dictate how their community will ever turn out to be. It can be a den of thieves and drug users or a settlement of people striving hard to make a better life for their children.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 22, 2014.


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