[Blueboard] An appeal for solidarity with the people of Baseco

Marita Concepcion Castro Guevara marichi at admu.edu.ph
Tue Apr 2 08:27:05 PHT 2002


On March 30, the eve of Easter Sunday, fire broke out in the Baseco 
compound in Port Area, Manila. An urban poor community, Baseco is home to 
some 7,000 families.

The fire, of still undetermined origin, began at around nine in the evening 
last Saturday and raged for several hours, razing several blocks in the 
process. At the end of it, over 3,000 families (or approximately half of 
the community) lost their homes. Some children suffered first-degree burns. 
A pregnant woman reportedly burned to death. Some residents are still missing.

The families which have lost their homes have set up temporary shelter in 
the baseketball court, the local elementary school, or anywhere there is 
open space. The barangay of Baseco, the Office of Mayor Lito Atienza, and 
government agencies like the DSWD the DOH are providing relief services, as 
are non-government organizations like the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), 
which does organizing work in the community. Certainly, the Baseco 
residents, through their local organizations and informal networks, are 
helping themselves and each other get back on their feet.

Notwithstanding these efforts, however, the people of Baseco need more 
assistance, considering the magnitude of the tragedy that has struck their 
community. In particular, they would welcome the following contributions:
1)  non-perishable food (canned goods, instant noodles, rice)
2)  blankets and sleeping mats
3)  simple clothes and footwear (e.g., t-shirts, pants, shorts, slippers)
4)  medicine (for fever, colds, cough, diarrhea)
5)  eating utensils (plates, glasses, forks and spoons)

If you wish to make contributions, please send them to the Institute of 
Philippine Culture (IPC) at the Social Development Complex. For inquiries, 
you may call up Faith Arce, Maggie Baybay, or Marichi Castro Guevara at 
426-6067 or 426-6068. We would appreciate it if you could send most of your 
contributions by this Thursday, April 4. At the end of that day, the IPC 
will be turning over whatever it receives to the Urban Poor Associates 
(UPA), which will be having a major activity in Baseco on Friday, at which 
it will be distributing the relief goods it will have collected by then.

For the last seven months, the IPC has been involved in Baseco and with its 
people, as two of its researches concern this community. In the process we 
have gained a partial understanding of the problems and concerns of the 
community. But more than this, we have come to appreciate and admire the 
creativity and resiliency of the people -- as they address adversities, eke 
out a living, and celebrate simple pleasures and joys in life. With or 
without us, they will rebuild Baseco. And yet our faith reminds us of how 
much more we are able to accomplish -- and what greater joy there is! -- if 
we help one another.

A Happy Easter to all. May it be a season of hope and solidarity for all of 
us, especially for our sisters and brothers in Baseco.

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