MANILA, Philippines – Fire razed the public market in Hagonoy, Bulacan Wednesday night, destroying an estimated P15 million-P20 million worth of property and affecting the livelihoods of 300 market vendors.
Fire officials said the fire started at 7:30 p.m. and quickly razed a large portion of the market. It also destroyed 5 houses near the market.
Fire Superintendent Absalon Sipadan, chief of the Hagonoy fire department, said the fire had reached the second alarm by 8 p.m. after local firemen could not contain the blaze. He said the local fire department has only 2 fire trucks, both of which are already old.
He said fire trucks from neighboring towns arrived to help put out the fire.
Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the public market has been in place for the past 25 years.
Firefighters have yet to determine what started the fire.
I heard about the tragedy from my mother through text around 11 p.m. that Wednesday night. The text was so matter-of-fact that I thought it was a missent message, or a joke. The entire store and the bodega burned down. That can’t be right.
“Don’t you know?” she said when I called her. I work in a newspaper, so she thinks I know everything that happens. This isn’t always the truth.
So it was true. That store was there even before I was born; I never thought I’d see it destroyed in my lifetime. The family routine revolved around the business: my father would wake up at 4 am every day, around noon someone from the store would drop by the house to pick up their lunch, every Tuesday my mother went on a bus to Divisoria to buy stuff wholesale. I have several shirts with the words ATO & BELEN STORE stamped on a sleeve – we gave it away to customers during Christmas. (We also gave away pails and basins and coin purses – vendor necessities.) When I brought Jake home the stories my father told him was about the store; before we left my father said, “Daan muna kayo ng tindahan ha?” (Drop by the store first, okay?)
My parents had a TV there, and a stove, and a wooden bench made by my grandfather. It was stocked to the brim. Just one night of fire and –
This was the bodega.
More pictures. These don’t even begin to show the extent of the damage. The fire reached even the wet market near the river, and those stores where I used to buy candy as a child.
We have another bodega near our house, and some items were salvaged from the fire. My parents found a temporary space. It’s way smaller than our store, and we have to pay a monthly rent on top of the electricity bill, but it’s a start.
Thank you to friends who sent words of comfort and offers of help. Send my parents good vibes. :)