The city of GenSan today is definitely modern in looks among urban communities in the Philippines. But here and there one can still see traces of its origins as a settler town of pioneers that began in 1939. Prominent in these indicators are a number of old wooden buildings, some of which remain in use. For instance, the Jose Catolico Puericulture Center stands out among the concrete structures along City Hall Drive due to its wood construction, and has remained a go-to destination for affordable health care services since it opened in the 1950s. Unfortunately this active landmark was lost to Generals this past Monday.
As Minda News reports, the J. Catolico Puericulture Center was gutted by a fire that broke out very early in the morning of January 18. The building was gutted by the flames, although fortunately none of the then-on-duty staff and stay-in patients were harmed. Firefighters managed to put out the fire as Monday morning rolled in, but while nearby structures were spared the center itself was left a charred skeleton of its former distinctive self.
In a statement to responding authorities, Puericulture midwife Maila Ismael noted that the fire started sometime around 2:30 AM of early Monday, when a loud explosion was heard from the center’s second story. Almost immediately after, the lights went out and flames began appearing from upstairs. The only patient at the time was an expectant mother who was ready to deliver a baby. In the course of the evacuation the woman was transferred to another hospital without incident, even as firefighters arrived at the scene.
While the Bureau of Fire Protection GenSan is still investigating the root cause of the sudden fire, it has already been estimated that the destruction of the J. Catolico Puericulture Center has cost around P500,000 in damages. That however pales in comparison to the loss of such a tangible connection between modern GenSan and its past history. Local resident Marvi Canzana, who noted that some of her siblings were born in the center due to its being favored by expectant mothers for affordability of, said it was an unfortunate event for the city of GenSan.