I joined Mayor Honey Lacuna and the rest of the Manila City Hall in the observance of the ‘Fire Prevention Month’ during our Monday flagraising ceremony.
The occasion is observed every March since most fires occur in the said month, which kicks off the beginning of the hot season in our country.
I watched and was awed by the firefighting and rescue skills exhibited by the members of the Bureau of Fire, specially since all of them were female.
Their demonstration also comes in line with the city’s celebration of the “Women’s Month.” Incidentally, the celebration comes at a time when the city of Manila has, for the first time in its history, a lady mayor sitting at its helm in the person of Mayor Honey.
Similarly, Manila has another first and this is having a woman— Supt. Christine Cula- being appointed to head the Bureau of Fire Protection-Manila.
While we salute our government firefighters in this ‘Fire Prevention Month,’ let me also take the opportunity to acknowledge the role that fire volunteers play, specially those belonging to the various Chinese volunteer fire brigades.
Being of Chinese descent myself, it gives me so much pride that members of the Chinese-Filipino communities have long been rendering selfless public service for the good of the country and its people.
I said ‘selfless’ for the obvious reason that these Chinese volunteers leave their comfort zones and utilize their time and effort in helping put out fires without getting anything in return, when they could just be spending such time and effort to grow their businesses.
Many, if not most of these Chinese volunteers are moneyed and yet they choose to risk losing their limbs and even their very own lives, just to be able to save others who are not even known to them.
All their equipment, from the costly firetrucks down to the lowly boots, are at the expense of the fire volunteer organization where they belong. Some shoulder the expenses themselves.
Sadly, there are incidents when, in trying to save lives and properties, these volunteers become the casualties themselves.
This is unavoidable given the nature of the public service they have chosen to enter into.
When unfortunate events such as these happen, the Chinese volunteers are on their own, but this has proven to be not enough to dissuade them from extending help to the community, particularly during fire incidents.
They continue to provide free service without complaints or asking for anything in return.
This, to me, is the true essence of dedicated public service. The love of country and fellowmen being shown by the Chinese volunteers is something worthy of the highest form of recognition.
From me to all of you Chinese volunteers out there, I take my hats off to you!! Thank you for your service to Manila and as the popular, oft-repeated phrase goes, “may your tribe increase!!”.
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