Mandaue City dawn fire

Retired judge, wife sacrificed their lives to save grandchild

By: Rosalie Abatayo - CDN Digital | February 17,2020 - 01:07 PM

Fire investigators examine the fire scene in Barangay Centro in Mandaue City. A dawn fire razed at least 15 homes in a residential area along Zamora Street and reportedly left two dead and one missing. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Gerick Gestopa, 21, was the apple of the eyes of his grandparents, retired judge Gerardo Gestopa and wife, Louella.

“First apo man gud nila maong pinangga gyud kaayo nila,” said Cesar Gestopa, the youngest brother of the 67-year-old Ret. Judge Gestopa.

(He was their first grandchild that’s why they loved him very much.)

This unconditional love was manifested on Monday morning, February 17, 2020, when a fire razed at least 15 houses, including that of the Gestopas’ at the family’s compound along Zamora Street in Barangay Centro here.

Read: Retired judge and wife reportedly among those killed in Mandaue fire

Cesar said Gerick, being the eldest grandson, lived with the retired couple.  He said his brother and sister-in-law sacrificed their lives for Gerick, when they refused to save themselves first in the hopes of bringing their special boy to safety.

Cesar, who also lost his home to the fire, said the couple already made it outside their house but decided to go back as Gerick, who was afraid of the heat from the fire, would not get out.

“Wa gyud sila mosunod nako. Ako pa silang gibalik. Gitawag nako nga, ‘Manong Boy dali na kay dako na kaayo ang kayo.’ Pero wala gyud,” Cesar told CDN Digital.

(They didn’t follow me out. I went back for them. I called out for him saying ‘Manong Boy come now because the fire is getting bigger.’ But he didn’t come.)

Cesar Gestopa is being interviewed by members of the media hours after a fire burned down several houses–including his–in Barangay Centro, Mandaue City on Monday dawn, February 17, 2020. CDN Digital photo Brian J. Ochoa

The fire was received by the city fire department at 2 a.m. and was raised to fourth alarm at 2:41 a.m.

It took firefighters an hour before they declared the fire under control at 3:05 a.m. and called a fire out at 4:10 a.m.

When the firefighters searched the fire site, they first found the charred body of a woman, believed to be that of Louella, and a man, believed to be that of Judge Gestopa.

The remains of the couple were already pulled out by the personnel of a funeral home. 

Gerick, as of 11:55 a.m., remains missing.

Despite the recovery of his brother and sister-in-law’s bodies, Cesar said they still hope that Gerick escaped the fire.

“Way siguro og nakaluy-an intawon to sa Ginoo. Nasalbar lang unta,” Cesar said.

(Perhaps, in God’s grace, he might have escaped the fire and managed to run to safety.)

Aside from the Gestopa couple, three other residents in the area were hurt from the fire.

Besmark Lumapas, 38, suffered first degree burns while Ruby Buhawi, 45, and Kate Ramirez, 8, sustained wounds to their soles and feet, respectively.

The fire department pegged the damage of the fire to be about P185,000. / bmjo

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TAGS: Centro, dawn fire, Mandaue fire

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