CARCAR BOY HERO: A REFLECTION OF APATHY AMIDST POVERTY AND TRAGEDY, but sometimes, stories have happy events, but not always a happy ending.
Cebu, Philippines - The future appears brighter for a nine-year-old boy who saved his five-year-old brother from a fire that engulfed their home in an interior village in southern Carcar town last Saturday.
The chancellor of a big university in Cebu City has pledged to provide free education and P10,000 in financial assistance to Antonio “Dan Boy” Fernandez Jr. and his family.
The provincial government also promised to extend assistance to help the boy's family rebuild their home in Sitio (district) Cambuntan, Barangay (village) Bolinawan in Carcar, which was gutted down by the fire caused by an unattended kerosene lamp.
Candice Gotianuy, daughter of the president and owner of the University of Cebu (UC), Augusto Go, said she would provide a scholarship to Dan Boy from grade school to college. She would also give P10,000 in financial help the boy and his family.
She said she was moved by the story of Dan Boy which came out in Cebu Daily News on Monday.
“I'm doing this because I was touched with the statement of the boy wanting to work in a bakery because there is bread,” she said.
Gotianuy said the boy needs an education if the family is pinning their hopes on him.
She said Sr. Sandra Clemente, UC community extension officer, would coordinate with Carcar Mayor Patrick Barcenas to locate the family and inform them of the good news.
Linda Vasquez, a staff member of Carcar Municipal Social Welfare, said Antonio Fernandez Sr. brought along his three sons - Dan Boy, five-year-old Nathaniel and three-year-old Kent – to their office on Monday morning to ask for help.
But she said the family was told to return on July 2.
Vasquez said they would have wanted to give the family P3,000 – the maximum amount that the town could extend to fire victims. But they were prohibited to do so due to the scheduled plebiscite for the town's conversion into a city on July 1, she added.
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia promised to help the boy's family and sent provincial social worker Marivic Garces to assess their needs.
“We are extending financial assistance to rebuild their house and we are also giving them assistance in kind...we will maximize the assistance, as to how much we are allowed to give,” she said.
She also instructed the social worker to make the necessary arrangement with the Carcar municipal government to ensure that the family would have a place to stay in.
“I hope to meet him (Dan Boy) soon. I plan to give him citation. Yup, I am seriously thinking of giving him educational assistance,” she said.
While Garces had yet to submit her report and recommendation, the provincial government, in the meantime, would give rice, sardines and noodles to the family.
Dan Boy was playing with his brother Kent in his aunt's home in Cambuntan on Saturday afternoon when he heard Nathaniel crying and saw smoke coming from their home.
He immediately ran home. Their father Antonio Sr. was out driving a trisikad (a bicycle with side car) to earn a living.
Dan Boy got scared when he saw Nathaniel crying a few feet away from the door, as the fire crept behind his brother. He immediately ran up, carried his brother and stormed out of the house.
He wanted to go back to get some clothes but the fire had already engulfed his home.
Antonio Sr. and the three kids are forced to take shelter in a two-meter-by-1.5-meter open shanty located near the ricefields after their relatives and neighbors refused to take them into their homes.
They were afraid that the bad luck that struck the Fernandez family would spread to them – a superstitious belief associated to fire victims. It was widely believed in the neighborhood that they should wait three days before they would invite fire victims to their homes because by then, the bad luck had dissipated.
Although they did not save anything, not even a single piece of clothing, Antonio Sr. is grateful that he still has his children.
He said he was also thankful for his son's quick thinking.
Dan Boy has been assuming the responsibility of taking care of his younger siblings whenever their father was out of the house to work. He would cook for them and feed them.
Because he has to take care of his siblings, Dan Boy has to stop going to school.
But he has simple dreams: “Gusto kong motrabaho sa bakery, kay naay daghang pan (I want to work in a bakery because there is plenty of bread there).” /with reports from Chief of Reporters Suzzane S. Alueta
thanks to Uncle Vip for the buzz