Comfort In Times of Uncertainty
Once again, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has proven that it is the premier humanitarian organization in the Philippines, ready to provide assistance in any way to those affected, in the light of the recent tragedy brought about by the Glorietta 2 explosion.
The death toll has now risen to 11 with the passing of Ricardo Petras, 24, at 2:23 AM, October 21 and the discovery of the body of Maureen de Leon, 24, at around 10:30 PM, October 20. Over a hundred were injured and there are a few individuals still being traced by their families and friends.
The PNRC was one of the first response teams to arrive at the scene shortly after the blast last October 19. Around 10 of the injured were treated by the PNRC team on-site while Welfare Desks were installed immediately near Ground Zero and at the Makati Medical Center and Ospital ng Makati to assist those who are trying to locate their loved ones who might have been inside Glorietta mall at the time of the explosion. A good number of those missing or unaccounted for were successfully located by the PNRC. But, as expected, not all stories in this kind of tragedy had happy endings.
Norlita Tan approached the PNRC Welfare Desk on-site, seeking help in locating her husband, Renier, who had been with her inside the mall shortly before the explosion. She just had her eyeglasses repaired at an optical shop at Glorietta 4, leaving her husband to pass time by himself strolling around the area. Little did she know that would be the last time she would see her husband alive.
At around 2:00 AM of October 20, the search and rescue team of the PNRC found Mr. Tan buried in debris at the foot of the escalator at the atrium of Glorietta 2. PNRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon had to take on the unpleasant task of informing Norlita that Renier had been found.
All that time that Norlita was keeping vigil at the site for word about his husband, the PNRC staff never left her side, offering comfort and encouragement in that time of uncertainty.
Gerardo and Mercedes de Leon also received the same kind of support and comfort from the PNRC staff while they were at the site for hours on end waiting for their daughter, Maureen, to be found. They did not waver in their belief that Maureen is still inside the building despite hours of search. Maureen’s body was found 33 hours after the explosion.
“Even if we can’t provide relief to the family members by finding their missing relatives alive, at least we provide closure to their search. This is all part of the efforts of the Red Cross to alleviate human suffering,” said Chairman Gordon to members of the press outside Glorietta 2. “We are relentless in our search. We are not giving up until we find them simply because their respective families do not have plans of giving up themselves. We can only do as much,” Godon added.
The PNRC is still providing assistance to those affected and would continue doing so long after the smoke has cleared. The PNRC had earlier sent 36 bags of blood, 18 to the Makati Medical Center and 18 to the Ospital ng Makati, right after the incident. Fortunately, they have not been used up but more would be available should there be a need in these hospitals which are still treating some of the wounded.
The Social Services Group of the Philippine National Red Cross is now taking care of assisting those whose relatives have not yet been accounted for. They can be reached thru 527-0000.