Today marks the week after my friend Paolo Jaucian's house in Pasay burned down. It started at 4 am last Friday morning. The blaze had started from an electrical fault in an adjoining house's wiring, setting the wooden house on fire and sparking an inferno that spread to six other houses. Six hours later, Jenny, Joel, Chielou and I were awestruck when PJ called us up at the office with the news. Apparently he and his pregnant wife Jasmine made it out okay, although they failed to salvage anything from their burnt home except important paperwork and clothes.
Without any further contact with PJ (his cellphone melted in the blaze), Chielou and I worried about him. The blaze happened at just about the worst time imaginable: PJ was restoring the house, Jasmine was pregnant, and they had a lot of bills to pay from their marriage last year.
Our hopes came back when PJ came back to the office yesterday afternoon, albeit in a shirt, denim jeans and slippers. He came to secure his share of fire contribution and settle a few things. Work in our cube literally stopped for 45 minutes as we all gathered around to welcome him and ask about the event.
It turns out PJ's house was an unnecessary casualty. Infuriatingly, the city firemen stationed nearby refused to put out the blazes as they ate at all adjoining property for almost two hours. Only the Chinese-Filipino volunteer firefighters, straight from relatively faraway Binondo, put in the effort to quell the fire. The city firemen did not raise a finger until the media came along to film the blazes! Had they sprung into action faster, PJ would most likely still have his house. What incredible bullshit! Only in the Philippines, folks...
Still, PJ was lucky he did not share the same fate of the father and his son who went back into the flames...and never came out alive. Their lives and bodies got snuffed out, leaving a horrid smell that only the overeager looters seem to be able to withstand.
PJ thanked me for visiting and surveying the damage the night after the fire. Me? I'm just thankful my good friend is still alive and well.