I woke up at around 4:30AM. I was confused at the dull sound of commotion somewhere, until I caught an acrid scent. “Fire?” I hesitantly thought. I groggily went out of my room, and saw my floor neighbors frantically moving around. “FIRE!” My mind shouted.
I ran towards the stairwell to confirm what was happening. My initial fear was that we were cut off; we were located at the fourth floor. The fiery glow on the fifth floor staircase told me to just hurry up and get out of there. The ashes and embers were already reaching our doors; every minute and action counted.
I realized that despite being a ‘mentally-prepared-for-almost-anything’ guy, I did not have a contingency plan for something like this. As I looked at all my belongings, I was at a loss. I wanted to bring everything with me, but as I heard the crunching sounds of the flame getting stronger, I knew I can’t.
I squeezed my mobile phone, laptop, Coby Kyros tablet and accessories on a knapsack, got my palanggana (plastic basin) and grabbed random clothes on my hanger rack. Then I ran to the streets like hell. I was wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and slippers.
Part of me was tempted to take my chances and get more of my stuff. I left my wallet and house keys in the room, as well as all my pants and shoes. But common sense and logic prevailed: my life and safety is not worth the risk for these replaceable belongings. I just silently heaved a sigh, prayed for everyone’s safety, and started texting people.
[I didn’t inform my parents yet because I didn’t want them to panic. Hopefully, they’ll find out when I’m already sound and okay.]
And for the first time since I transferred residence in May 2012, I finally met and got to know my neighbors.
The fire was put out somewhere between 5:30AM and 6:00AM. But we’re still currently waiting for the fire investigator to finish inspecting the building for the structural integrity and allow us to recover our water-damaged belongings, as the fire may have caused the concrete ceiling to become brittle and collapse.
I thank my WINmakati pastors for the care and concern they extended to me, as well as those who simply prayed for my safety (and refrained from texting/calling – I was saving my mobile phone battery and load for more important communication). For now, I’m just thankful to God for being alive and safe – and despite the tragic event, discovered friendship among my neighbors.