THE last time Agnes Ruiz came back home to Cebu to spend time with her kids, it was during Christmas last year.
The Dubai-based nurse didn’t realize that it would be the last Christmas that she would be spending with three of her four children.
Ruiz’s eldest daughter Allisson Lee, 19; Ace Andre, 15; and Angel Lavigne, 9, were killed in a fire that hit their house in Barangay Colon, City of Naga last Tuesday morning.
Upon seeing the coffins of her three children at the crematorium at the Benevola Memorial Garden in Consolacion yesterday afternoon, Ruiz was dumbfounded, but never lost composure.
Ruiz flew from Dubai to Cebu after hearing what happened to her children.
Relatives noticed that she was calm when she arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at 11:30 a.m. yesterday.
She declined to issue a statement.
Marilou Saya-ang, the victims’ aunt, said that while Ruiz accepted her children’s fate, she couldn’t accept the way they died.
“Naka-mindset niya ba na pagbuot jud ni sa Ginoo (She has accepted that this is the will of God),” Saya-ang said.
For now, relatives of the victims are still contemplating whether they would file a case against the City of Naga Fire Department for their allegedly slow response during the incident.
Jeffrey Saya-ang, the victims’ uncle, said that when he drove to the fire station, he shouted for help but no one heard him.
Jeffrey then went to his car and started honking its horn. That was when someone finally came up to him.
Jeffrey also complained how slow they were in responding to the fire.
The family’s disappointment piled up when the firemen arrived later than they expecting.
“Kami gyud tanan naa mi sa karsada, naghilak ming tanan. Kami tanan gyud nga pamilya naa ra mi sa ilang tungod pero wala mi nahimo, gahilak ra mi (All of us were on the street, crying. All of us in the family were just in front of the house, but we cannot do anything. We just cried),” said Saya-ang.
The family and relatives remember the children as friendly, respectful, and good people.
“Wala gyud koy ikasaway anang mga bataa kay mga buotan kaayo. Respetado kaayo sa isigkatawo nila (I cannot say anything bad about these children because they were very good. They were respected by other people),” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey said that Allison shared his passion for civil engineering.
Allisson’s surviving brother, Eivyrenz, said that the night before the fire, he was talking with his sister who was sharing her excitement about the first semester because her class would already start measuring houses.
Allisson and Eivyrenz were the closest of the four siblings.
The children grew up in their grandparents’ house.
“Kani silang mga bataa, mga lola’s pet gyud ni kay gadako ni sa lola gyud (These children are lola’s pets because they grew up with their grandmother),” Rochelle Lim, another aunt of the children, said.
Angel even wanted to be a teacher, shared Lim, because her grandmother was a retired teacher.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 will investigate if firefighters from the City of Naga committed lapses in their response to a fire in Barangay Colon that led to the death of the three siblings.
Senior Supt. Esmael Codilla, BFP 7 director, told Sun.Star Cebu that whether or not there is a complaint filed in their office, they will investigate if personnel from the City of Naga Fire Department committed lapses in their response.
Codilla said that as of now, he has yet to receive the progress investigation report from the local fire department on their response to last Tuesday’s incident.
But he assured that there will be no whitewash in their investigation.
“Dili ko mutabon nila kung nasipyat sila (I won’t defend them if they committed a mistake). They will face the consequences,” Codilla said.
Codilla defended the local fire department over some issues, including claims that firefighting units from neighboring towns arrived before they did.
He received a text message from the chief of the Minglanilla Fire Station who denied they responded during the incident. Vania Mae B. Lim, USJ-R Journalism Intern