It was one sunny Wednesday morning, an ordinary day as it seems, until 11:20 clocks in.
We were at the canteen before the fire ablaze the whole building in minutes. My mom’s preparing the food for the lunchtime break while Patrick, my 7 year old nephew, and I were watching TV. Then we heard a tremendous noise from the second floor of the canteen, followed by the sudden tremble all over the place. I called my mom and hold Patrick’s hand as we cautiously cover our heads for falling dusts and objects. We were on our way to the Canteen’s main door when in a batting on an eyelash, the smoke easily filled the place. In split seconds we were already blinded by the heavy smoke and we can only see the dark grey smoke, it felt like drowning, with our eyes open.
We were already panicking as we catch our breath, we are already suffocated, I can even remember the rushing and fading of our voices, it was a critical moment as we only rely with our shouts to know that we are still alive. I even heard my mom spoke this heart breaking words “an di ko na kaya, mamamatay na ata ako..” (an, I can’t take this any longer, I am dying ..) Those were tough moments, as we run to the main entrance I notice the sudden heat of the smoke, then I can only glimpse the yellow-orange light even if my eyes were closed. It was the extreme burning sensation that made us pull back and go to the opposite direction.
We were choking to death, we were inhaling too much chemicals and my thoughts are pretty shutting off already, but we managed to think fast and we decided to go back to the kitchen, I believe 6 meters away from where we were trapped. We run the best that we could, but..
It felt like we were just gliding, floating our way out to the kitchen, there were extension cables and other obstructions on our way, but miraculously we didn’t trip off at all. From the kitchen we went straight to the back door/firewall and realized only then, that the building is on fire. We witnessed how the fire shattered all the window glasses above. We run as fast as we can, turning on every corner, pausing as we need to be alert for the falling glasses and debris. Then we went to the exit and saw the other workers trying to open the other main gate. We check ourselves if we have bruises but thank God we are all safe. Patrick was crying and when I checked him, he got bruises and cuts on his feet, only then that I realized that he was running with no slippers, everything was just fast. Horribly fast.
We run and went outside and saw the magnitude of the fire in a bigger scope, the smoke was pitch black and the fire, towering red. We were looking for other workers but most of them were at the second floor. Trapped. We saw how the fire easily ate all that we have worked hard for years in our canteen. Camera, laptop, cell phones, clothes, appliances, savings, everything. We saw how the fire burned the whole building in minutes. Everyone’s in shock. Crying. Running. Shouting. Distraught.
I am still haunted by the images of the fire. It pierced my heart every time I think of those workers who were burned alive at the second floor. Those were our customers, friends, those were the people we always see every day and have been part of our success for more than two years of our stay in the canteen business. Every time I remember their laughter, their smiles, and their voices, and now juxtaposed with the agonies and cries of their relatives holding their photos, faithfully waiting until their love ones are finally identified, it crushes me. Really.
The factory that once was a happy land, is now a horror factory. 72 people. 72 dreams. 72 lives have lost in minute’s time. A Nightmare? Yes, but every dream won’t last forever, we need to wake up and live life forward. Surviving the fire, surviving death makes my life a precious one.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Until now I am still puzzled by the fact that if we didn’t run our way out in seconds’ time we could have been burned alive and be one of those cadavers found inside the gutted building. Until now I am still amazed that we endured and defy that suffocating smoke, everything’s already fading out; my voice, my thoughts, my eyesight, my life. But God has saved me and my family from the fangs of death, it was a close call. But as it says in His Word, God is our refuge. And He truly is. I am literally gone and tested through fire but my Lord has kept me unharmed.
My take away, when God put that peace in your heart, it doesn’t really matter what you have lost, that Peace will guide us to live life forward. Not thinking of the past but forever grateful for the future. Now I am free from the trivialities of life through its “accessories”. I learn and appreciate more the best and true GIFT God is freely giving us, and that is LIFE itself.
God has taught me a wonderful lesson amid this four-cornered Inferno escape, that our faith in Him, will withstand and will never be consumed by fire.
Second life is truly a joyful and purposeful life.
I am overwhelmed by God’s amazing love and protection, and deeply honored to experience His reality through the love and care of His people. I am humbled and highly favored by your generosity. Thank you Cathedral of Praise, relatives, friends for letting me experience heaven on earth. Harvest season is coming.
Now this is what the Lord says.
He created you, people of Jacob;
he formed you, people of Israel.
He says, “Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you.
I have called you by name, and you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
When you cross rivers, you will not drown.
When you walk through fire, you will not be burned,
nor will the flames hurt you.
3 This is because I, the Lord, am your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV