By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Sixty-four-year-old twin sisters Cenica and Genedina Banda hugged when they met hours after their house was razed to the ground by a fire that reached third alarm Wednesday afternoon. Genedina, who was at work, thought that her sister had perished in the fire.
Cenica said she was taking a shower around 3:30 p.m. when she heard people shouting about the fire. She immediately got dressed and ran outside.
Meanwhile, Genedina was at work when she received a call about their house. She rushed home to find that their house had already been razed by fire. She cried, worried that her sister might have been trapped inside. There was no one to ask about her sister.
“Para akong baliw. Para akong si Sisa. Sigaw ng sigaw. Hinahanap ko sya. Naku! Mababaliw ako ‘pag nawala ang kapatid ko (I acted crazy, like Sisa. I shouted and shouted looking for her. I will go crazy if I will lose my sister).”
“I was about to go inside our house when a firefighter stopped me. He said, I should stay outside. I did not know what to do. I had to see my sister,” she said in Filipino.
Genedina did not give up. She went from house to house and finally found her sister at a neighbor’s house.
“Nakatulala sya. Nagiisip ng malalim. Hindi sya gumagalaw noong nakita ko sya (She was just staring motionless when I saw her),” she said.
“I immediately hugged her. I was very happy that she is alive,” she said in Filipino.
Both Cenica and Genedina were in tears when the Manila Bulletin chanced upon them Friday at a camp set up outside their burned house in Barangay 49, Caloocan City.
Cenica said that all the things that she was able to buy from her profits as an Avon dealer—from vintage narra chairs to a television set—were all razed by fire.
Her savings of about P5,000 which she kept inside their cabinet was also lost, she added.
Genedina also realized that the stove that she purchased from her earnings as a seamstress had been stolen.
“Ang hirap pala. Nasunugan na nga kami, nanakawan pa ng kalan (It’s really hard. Aside from losing our home, our stove was also stolen),” she said.
The Caloocan City government extended help to the fire victims. Rheah Escobar, city social welfare department head, said that social workers were at the area a few hours after the fire to assist the 100 families affected.
Escobar added that aside from tents, the victims are also provided with three meals a day, and hygiene and medicine kits.
Mayor Oca Malapitan had visited the area to check on the situation of the victims, promising to give each family P1,000 to P3,000 cash assistance.
Cenica and Genedina said that they will try to start over, using the cash assistance to buy house materials, although it is not yet enough.
“Magtutulungan nalang kaming dalawa. Itutuloy ko ang pananahi para makaipon (We will just help each other. I will continue my work as a seamstress to be able to save money), Genedina said.