CEBU CITY -- A college student died in the fire that hit a roadside community in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City last Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters found the body of Adrian Lorenzo Tecson, 17, on the ground floor of a boarding house where he had shared a room with his brother.

Two household workers said they knocked on his bedroom door when they found out about the fire, but heard no answer.

For Herbee Jean Ederosas, 17, the last words she had from her boyfriend of four years came in a text message he sent a day before his last. “Asa ka (Where are you)?” the message read.

The Cebu City Government distributes up to P10,000 cash and a subsidy of P8,000 for the casket and funeral services, as part of a burial assistance program.


But Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) Chief Ester Concha said the rules require that the beneficiaries must be residents of the city.

Tecson was not.

Fire in Banilad
TANGLED. Firefighters check under a fallen billboard in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City to make sure a fire that ruined 24 houses no longer had any burning embers. (Sun.Star photo/Alan Tangcawan)

Like his girlfriend Ederosas, Tecson hailed from Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte; they had been together since high school. They enrolled in medical technology in the Cebu Doctors’ University during their freshman year, but Tecson switched to biology this year.

Firefighters initially thought that no one had died in the fire, which razed 24 houses and damaged two others, displacing an estimated 80 persons. They found Tecson last Saturday night, during a clearing operation.

His body was found on the ground floor of the two-story boarding house owned by Isabelita Rosales.

Rosales’s workers, Joseph Loreto and Zie Tamse, said they knocked on the locked door of Tecson’s room, but got no reply. They said they also tried to destroy the door, but failed as they had to leave the house hurriedly because the smoke grew thicker.

What started it?

A fire also hit the house of the family of Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias in Barangay Basak Pardo yesterday afternoon.

But while it damaged a room in the upper floor of the two-storey house, the councilor’s 84-year-old mother Eriberta, whose room it was, survived.

SFO2 Pier Angelo Abellana said the flames ate a small portion of the room’s wall.

Faulty electrical wiring may have caused the fire, he added.

Residents nearby had put out the flames by the time the firefighters arrived.

The councilor believes a cigarette butt may have started the fire.

“Manabako man gud ni akong mama unya tiguwang na. Nagtuo tingali to siya nga nalabay na niya sa bintana ang upos sa sigarilyo unya naa ra diay sa kilid (My mother must have thought she had tossed a cigarette butt a good distance outside, but it landed beside the house),” he said.


Fortunately, Cabarrubias said, one of their neighbors saw smoke coming from the room and immediately went to their house to put out the fire.

“Naa man mi hose sa balay, so natabang ra gyud (We also have a hose at home, and someone used it to help out out the fire),” he said.

Cabarrubias was in their other house, still in Basak Pardo, when the fire broke out.

He immediately rushed to check on his mother, and was grateful to those who quickly stopped the flames from spreading.

Meanwhile, in the Banilad fire scene, residents collected scraps like parts of their tin roofs, iron bars and nails they can sell to the junk shop.

Rey Francisco, 32, said he managed to save only his clothes when the fire broke out.

“I made sure that I ran away from the place, for my safety,” he said.

Tecson, the student who died, and his brother shared the room. But last Saturday, Tecson’s brother was back home in Sta. Felomina, Dipolog City.

Tecson’s father arrived in Cebu yesterday afternoon.

City’s help

Ederosas and her friends went to St. Peter Memorial Chapels on New Imus Road, where Tecson’s wake was held. She said she will miss him and how selfless he was.

“If he had a friend who was hungry, he would let him eat using his own money,” she said.

The Cebu City Government yesterday assured that assistance will be given to the estimated 80 individuals who suffered as a result of the fire in Sitio Ibaan, Barangay Banilad.

The City was prepared to provide packed meals to the fire survivors for three days.

Disaster kits, Concha said, will be given away; these will include mats and blankets that the fire survivors can use while they are temporarily housed in the barangay complex.

Housing materials will also be distributed, but that has yet to be scheduled.

Concha said the City will give P10,000 to each family whose house was destroyed and P5,000 to those whose houses were damaged.