BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan-Several residents of this island-resort have opened their doors to victims of the June 17 fire that destroyed more than 100 houses and the public market in the village of Manoc-Manoc.
At least three families are staying in the house of Marissa Licerio-Gabriel who is based in Switzerland with her family.
In a Facebook chat with Inquirer, Gabriel said only her parents were staying in their Boracay house which she and her family used once a year when they go on vacation.
"We opened the house because it's our only way to help," she said. "This is our only way to express our sympathy," she added.
Gabriel said her family also gave food to three families staying in the house.
The fire victims, she said, would be allowed to stay until they could find a new shelter.
Boracay residents Alexandra Miralles and Christine Temporanza also allowed several fire victims to stay in their homes.
Miralles said a family of four is staying in a vacant room of her house in the village of Balabag.
"Our house is not that big but we want to help. We cannot give monetary help, so we opened our doors to them," she said.
She added they also provided clothes to the fire victims who lost everything in the fire.
Temporanza took in two of her work colleagues who were also displaced by the fire.
At least 185 families were rendered homeless by the fire on June 17 in Sitio Manggayad, Manoc-manoc village here.
At least 100 stall owners were also displaced by the fire that destroyed the almost three-hectare market called Talipapa Bukid, which was on a hilly location.
One of them was Edward dela Cruz whose stall was first destroyed in the 2005 fire that hit the old public market.
"We saw when the fire started. We tried to stop it, but the fire spread quickly and reached the wet market," said Dela Cruz, also president of the Boracay Talipapa Business Owner Credit Cooperative.
He said he failed to save any of his merchandise and more than 100 kg of meat that had been delivered to his stall just shortly before the fire.
Despite what happened, Dela Cruz said he remained optimistic that he would be able to recoup his losses.
"Most of us here were victims of the fire in the old market. Though hard, we will try to rise again and get back to business soon, because we have to," he said.
In 2005, fire destroyed the old public market near boat station 3 of the White Beach. The public market was transferred to Manoc-Manoc village.
Fire Insp. Stephen Jardeleza, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Boracay, admitted that Talipapa Bukid was among the structures tagged as fire-prone.
He said there was no access road to the public market that would allow firetrucks to enter. Talipapa Bukid is also elevated from the main road.
The area, Jardeleza added, is congested because houses had been built too close to each other.
He said he had discussed fire prevention measures with Abramm Saulog, Monoc-Manoc barangay captain, but formal meetings were cancelled because of preparations for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meetings here.