A TUBE connects his throat to an apparatus to aid him in breathing. His voice is barely audible that one can only read the words formed by his slightly parted lips. Every now and then, he makes a hissing sound as his fragile body twitches in pain. His face is now flawed by burn marks but his eyes are not devoid of emotions.

Those eyes saw the fire that licked his body.

The fire did not spare his family. While he slowly undergoes clinical treatment at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit-D of the UST Hospital, he does not know that his parents and his youngest sister have died from the fire.

Fire incident

Mark Joseph “Mac-mac” D. Obuyes suffered second-degree burns in a fire last Oct. 9 at the mezzanine of Basilio Market, Dapitan. It was believed that the fire started at 2:30 a.m.

Their family of six members, occupied one of the two rooms in the second floor of the mezzanine.

It was May-ann, Mac-mac’s eldest sibling, who noticed the thick blanket of smoke coming from their bathroom downstairs. She went up to alert her parents about the fire, not knowing that it would be the last time she would see them.

Harlene, the other sister, also managed to escape the fire.

Mac-mac also escaped but his clothes were caught by the flames while he hurried down the stairs in the middle of the choking smoke.

“Ni-rush na namin siya sa hospital. Hindi nga namin siya mahawakan kasi bumabaon iyong balat niya,” said Lorna Depasupil, the victim’s aunt who lives a few blocks away from them.

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Mac-mac suffered extensive burns in the back, arms, face, and chest. He also acquired minor burns in the lower extremities. On the first day of his admission to the hospital, he stayed at the surgical intensive care unit.

As Mac-mac recovers, his aunt and his remaining family hope that they may still be able to conceal the death of his parents and his younger sister. His aunt fears that Mac-mac is not yet in the proper condition to be told of the tragic deaths.

Chasing dreams

Mac-mac is the second and the only son of Buenaventura Obuyes, Jr. and Melanie Obuyes. He is a grade four student at the Dr. Alejandro Albert Elementary School. At school, Mac-mac excelled in his studies.

He belongs to a religious family who were all active members of the church; his sisters were members of the choir. His early morning Sundays were spent at the UST Santissimo Rosario Chapel where he served as an altar boy.

“Dati nga kahit hindi pa siya nakapag-first communion, sumasali pa rin siya at nag-a-assist sa mga sacristan,” said Loren Depasupil, his cousin.

Indeed, at an early age, Mac-mac displayed religious inclinations.

“Si Mac-mac kasi iba iyung charisma niya sa tao. Ang cute niya pag nakasuot ng pang-sacristan. He has an angelic face, masayahin siya at laging nakangiti. Pag binibiro mo iyan, hindi siya napipikon,” Roger Angeles, a board member of the Ministry of Altar Server, said.

Tight-knit family

According to Lorna Depasupil, the family chose to live in a cramped place just so they could be together. They had been staying at this mezzanine for months.

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The family drew its meager income from selling meatballs, hotdogs, and quail eggs on the sidewalks.

The Obuyes’s dead were cremated. Depasupil decided that it was the best thing to do so as not to prolong the grim and haunting memories of their loss. She recalled how Harlene suffered from the traumatic experience. “Dati nga hindi siya nakakausap at laging tulala yan,” she recalled.

Foul play

Properties estimated to almost five million were lost as the fire engulfed the nearby market place and spread to the nearby residents of Instruccion.

According to Depasupil, the suspect behind the fire is still at large. It was May-ann who saw the figure of a man near the bathroom where the fire started.

Later, she recognized him as one of the occupants in the adjoining room. This man was believed to be taking revenge on their tenant who terminated his family’s stay due to unpaid accounts.

It was found out that the family of the suspect had fled earlier carrying their belongings with them days before the fire incident happened.

Moving on

Depasupil had helped the family relieve their financial burdens. But she also lost her sari-sari from the fire.

In fact, she has exhausted most of her savings for Mac-mac’s hospital bills.

Rev. Fr. Eugene Cabillon O.P, the parish priest of Santissimo Rosario Chuech (UST Chapel), has offered financial assistance through the help of the parish members.

Of course, Depasupil dreads the day when Mac-mac finishes his medication. That will be the time she will have to tell him the charred truth.

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Though Mac-mac will not feel the presence of some of his loved-ones anymore especially this coming Christmas, his relatives and friends will be there to compensate the things that he may lack.

He may be young but his faith will help him surpass the trials he will encounter in life. For Mac-mac, it may seem that his future may seem uncertain but through love and support, he will be able to lead a normal life.

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