Barangay (village) councilor Carla Castro was far from her house when a fire broke out on a slum area on St. Joseph Merville Access Road in Pasay City on Saturday evening.
As soon as she heard that the blaze had reached the fifth alarm, there were two things on her mind: her daughter and her dog Nikki, which had given birth to seven puppies before New Year’s Day.
In the end, Castro was not able to save any of her things although she was grateful that her daughter was safe and thanks to her neighbor, Teresita Mendoza, Nikki and her pups were also spared from harm.
Mendoza, a dog lover who had developed a bond with Nikki, said that after the fire broke out, the dog came up to her as if asking for her help in rescuing her pups.
At that point, she said she had no choice but to help her four-legged friend.
“I love dogs so much. They once saved my life during a fight. Trudis [one of her dogs] protected me when somebody tried to hurt me,” Mendoza said.
To repay her debt of gratitude to her canine companions, she pampers them. Aside from Trudis, Mendoza has another dog named Trudina.
“I don’t give my dogs leftover food even though they are askals (Filipino slang for mongrel). I cook rice for them and usually give them chicken liver when I have money,” she told the Inquirer.
The fire, which started at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, destroyed 163 houses and 10 commercial structures, said Zenaida Asor, a worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. So far, 430 families have been evacuated to a nearby barangay hall. Only one resident reportedly suffered injuries during the fire, which was put out shortly after midnight the following day.
Initial investigation showed that the blaze started in the house being rented by a woman identified only as Rhea. No one was at home at that time although a lit candle had been left unattended, Asor said. The fire immediately spread to other houses in the area, which were mostly made of light materials.