Family grapples with loss of 4 children in Tisa Fire
CEBU CITY, Philippines – One of the most challenging realities of life following the loss of loved ones is grappling with the weight of regrets and unspoken apologies.
This is what clearly defines the emotions experienced by the family of the four children who tragically lost their lives in a fire that swept through Sitio Capaculan in Barangay Tisa in Cebu City.
Most painful event of family, kin
The children’s playful laughter that was often heard outside their home turned on that fateful early morning to desperate cries for help as the fire swept through their neighborhood at around 5 a.m. on Thursday, November 23.
Jonathan Elorde, a close relative and a neighbor of the bereaved family, described the incident as the “most unfortunate and painful event” ever to occur in their entire lives.
“Katong mga bataa, nagpasinsilyo pa to sa amoa kay magduwa silag computer, ila giari ako apo kay magdula na sila,” Elorde told CDN Digital on Friday, November 24.
(Those kids, they would have their money changed here because they would like to play with the computer, they would come and invite his grandchild because would like to play with my grandkid.)
Kin of family : Unusual behavior of one of the kids
Elorde said that a few weeks before the tragedy, he noticed some “unusual” behaviors in one of the children.
“Katong ikaduha nga bata, sa mga niaging semana, sige ug pamarayig sa inahan, ‘ma, kuyog ta ma sa eskwelahan’ ingana ba. Mao ako nabantayan kay niana man ang inahan nga nagbinag-o siya kay muhilak man ug dili ihatod,” Elorde said.
(The second child, in the past week, would request to her mother, ‘ma, be me with me, bring me to school,’ something like that. That is what I noticed because the mother said that that was a new attitude for her and she would cry if she would not be brought to school by her mother.)
Why they could not save the kids
According to Elorde, he did not interpret those signs as manifestations that something tragic would befall them.
“Grabe, dili to nako madescribe kay madunggan gyud nimo ang saba sa mga bata nga nangayo ug tabang [adtong buntaga],” he said.
(I really cannot describe it because you can really hear the cries of the children asking for help [that morning].)
Elorde said that they tried to save the children; however, due to the roofs being grounded by broken electric wires, it prevented them from reaching the children in their dire time of need.
“Dili na sad mi kasulod kay grabe na ang sunog, ang ila mama pagabot, naghilak na lang tawon siya sige pangayo pasaylo sa iyang mga anak,” he said.
(We cannot also enter because the fire had already gotten worse, their mother, when she arrived, could only cry and ask forgiveness from her children.)
Elorde recalled a heartbreaking moment when witnesses saw the eldest child, in a state of helplessness, embracing his two siblings and shedding tears as the fire gradually consumed them.
“Nanyagit sila, ‘ma, tabang. Init na, ma’,” he said.
(They were shooting, ‘ma, help us. It is so hot, ma.’]
Etched in memory of family
The devastating scenes from the fire have been etched into the family’s memory, and it will be a difficult one to forget and accept.
“Dili ni namo malimtan, pero padayon. Hinay hinay,” Elorde said.
(We will not forget this, but we go on. Slowly.)
As Christmas draws near, Elorde said that the reality for this season of celebrations would undoubtedly feel different for their family with the tragic loss of the four children.
CDN Digital sends heartfelt condolences to the parents and respects their request not to be interviewed in these time of grief.
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