Filipino community urged to help limo fire victims

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 10 2013 04:40 PM | Updated as of May 11 2013 12:40 AM

SAN MATEO, California – The outpouring of support continue to come from all parts of America for the victims of the limousine fire and their families.

Last May 4, the stretch limousine carrying nine Filipina women burst into flames along San Mateo Bridge, killing five and injuring the rest. 
 
Fruitvale HealthCare Center, where eight of the victims worked, has set up the San Mateo Bridge Angels Fund Account with the help of Bank of America to aid the victims and their families.
 
Just as Abner Alcantara and his two children continue to pray for the souls of his wife, Anna Fe, who was one of those who perished, help keeps pouring in. Alcantara said he is grateful for the support.
 
He can never forget the moment authorities informed him of the worst news of his life
 
“Yun ang pinakamasakit. Yun ang pinaka-masakit na narinig ko sa buong buhay ko,” he said.
 
The 1999 Lincoln Town Car that was engulfed in flames was not required to undergo a state safety inspection or even carry a fire extinguisher.
 
Stretch limos have been restructured to accommodate more passengers. Experts say major changes to lengthen cars can put pressure on fuel lines and electrical wiring.
 
Larger limos go through inspection from the state every year but not with cars carrying fewer than 10 people.
 
This week, State Senator Jerry Hill says he will introduce a bill that will require fire extinguishers in limos and will look into why cars carrying 10 people or less are not inspected. 
 
The husband of Fyla Geronga said it’s about time that bill is passed. Flya also perished in the limo
 
“Dapat mapasa para wala nang matulad sa amin. Kahit papaano'y mabawasan ang trahedyang nangyari,” Aldring Geronga said. 
 
Daly City Mayor Ray Buenaventura also applauds Senator Hill for promoting safety for limousines. He said the tragedy has affected not just the families involved, but all Filipinos.
 
“I don't think that the Bay Area has experienced such a tragedy like this, among the Filipino community in one instant moment," he said. 
 
Buenaventura is encouraging all kababayans to come together and help out the victims and their families in any way.
 
One of the survivors, Nelia Arellano, came out to attend her friend’s service.
 
She said in due time, she and the other survivors, will speak about their horrific experience.
 
Grieving families like the Gerongas are thankful that the Filipino community has reached out to them in this time of need.
 
“Kahit pala sa mga pangyayaring ito, meron pa rin mga taong naghahangad ng para sa ikabubuti ng mga taong naapektuhan ng trahedyang ito," Geronga said.