AUG.. 3, 2002 is a long way back, but for memories of personal tragedies time is relative. Early Thursday morning, a small but headline-grabbing fire hit a compound in Banawa, killing three people, including a lawyer and his wife. That again reminds us of the havoc fire brings, and made me recall the blaze that hit our place eight years ago.

The memory of that fire may not actually have left me. Last year, I suggested to my wife that we saw off portions of the grill in the window adjacent to the stair in our house to open up an exit in case of emergences, like fire. The expression on her face told me she found my suggestion stupid. I backed off, worried that I had sounded paranoid.

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I don’t actually have for now enough details of the circumstances that resulted to the deaths of Manuel Pastrana, his wife Norma and the couple’s househelp in the Banawa fire.

But I have observed that many house owners now are caught between securing themselves from outside intrusion and ensuring that their homes won’t become fire traps.

I have always opposed the idea of wrapping our windows with iron grills arguing that while the grills prevent robbers from entering the house, they also bar people inside from escaping through the covered openings. But just this January, a robber entered our house unnoticed by taking out the jalousie glass plates of our bathroom window.

I mean, it’s a dilemma---and thus a problem. And that’s only one of the reasons why some fires become deadly. Perhaps Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) elements, together with barangay officials, should look into the structures in the communities and help pinpoint possible fire traps. That should make Fire Prevention Month more relevant.

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Somebody wanted me to write about presidential bet Gibo Teodoro.

Admittedly, I have been critical of his candidacy because of his association with President Arroyo, Gibo being the official candidate of the administration party Lakas-Kampi. But to be fair, Teodoro has been conducting his campaign decently, so I can write something not biting.

When a former colleague in The Freeman (the paper where I once was connected with) called me up a couple of weeks ago, I told him that if he won’t vote for my preferred presidential bet, then I recommend Gibo instead. Just don’t go for Manny Villar or former president Joseph Estrada. That shows the level of respect I reserve for Teodoro.

I understand that Gibo not only has the support of Gov. Gwen Garcia’s One Cebu party but also of some Cebuano businessmen, youths and intellectuals and the military (he being a former defense secretary). He is, after all, the most articulate of the candidates and is a topnotch lawyer. Those who go for competence (I go for integrity), prefer him.

I would say that a big chunk of the youths that previously gravitated to Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero are now pro-Gibo.

His popularity in the various campuses in the country showed during his visits there. That’s not surprising because with Chiz out of the presidential race picture, Gibo is among the younger presidential candidates in the polls.

If this were a different period in our history, Teodoro would actually be lording it over the popularity surveys.

Unfortunately, results of these same surveys also showed that President Arroyo’s endorsement of him is a political “kiss of death.” But there’s this argument that elections are not decided by surveys but by voting in the precincts. So, who knows?

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ my blog: cebuano.wordpress.com)