08/12/2010 - Eight-year-old Mary Ann Canarecio has one wish.
She hopes that some Good Samaritans would donate books and school supplies so she could go back to school.
Mary Ann has been skipping classes at the Zapatera Elementary School. The grade 2 pupil lost all her school supplies in the fire that gutted their home and houses of 200 other families in six sitios in barangay T. Padilla, Cebu City last Monday.
She was only able to save her backpack, a pencil, sheets of paper and some clothes.
“I didn’t want to be absent. I want to go to school. I've already missed several classes,” she said in Cebuano.
Instead, Maryann watches over their few belongings while her mother Joan and five elder siblings scavenge the debris where their shanty used to stand.
About 50 families occupy the T. Padilla Sports Complex as a temporary shelter. Another 70 families are housed in the public market and Tejero Sports Complex while 25 others occupy sidewalks along MJ Cuenco Avenue.
Other fire victims remain in the burned area.
Living on the sidewalk, Ethel Monreal, 27, and her two children aged 11 months and five, do the best they can.
Monreal said it was better to stay close to their burnt shanty to guard against looters looking for scrap housing materials.
Besides, evacuations center were already full, she said.
About 430 houses were destroyed in the fire that spread through six sitios in La Purisima, Sto. Niño, BSJCO, Bahaw, Freedom and Eagles in T. Padilla.
At least 3,300 persons were left homeless in Cebu City's biggest fire this year. Most only managed to save a few clothes from the blaze.
Among them was Mary Ann's family.
Joan, 39, was unable to report for work at a beauty parlor where she earns P150 a day as a hairstylist.
The single mother worried about her six children , including the youngest, 8-year-old Mary Ann.
Joan said she couldn’t just leave her children at the shelter. And then there’s the work ahead of clearing the debris so they can rebuild once housing materials are distributed by the city government.
For now, they depend on whatever assistance they can get from the government and kind-hearted donors.
Another student, 15-year-old Kezzha Tacio, lost her uniforms and school supplies in the fire.
She had to ask her teachers in Tejero Night High School to forego the uniform requirement so she can attend classes. (Cebu Daily News)