It was actually a shock to us last night that there was a hostage-taking crisis going on for most of the day and we didn't know it. We just tuned in to the news at past 7 PM, enough to get confused with the grainy TV reception (I dunno why our TV sucks that way), the rains, the haphazard media commentary and then witness the tragic end.

I tuned in to Plurk to get a better grasp of the situation. Overall, the police were being lambasted for not knowing what to do. And sure, I was annoyed and frustrated as well. But for the life of me, I also felt for the police. THEY REALLY DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. I can get angry with that fact but was more saddened by it... there was the proof that the people who should be defending us were not equipped with the proper training and preparation, nor the equipment. So what hope really is there for them to save these people when they themselves obviously seemed concerned for their lives?

Most of who I saw didn't even have bulletproof vests (and this was going on for hours, enough time to send for them, surely, if there were any). They threw tear gas but didn't have gas masks. Laughable but actually really tragic.

And they were making do in front of international TV. We were watching the coverage at ABS and Failon incessantly reminded everyone that the crisis was being watched worldwide, thanks to them.

Can you imagine the pressure they must be in, and to be have been there for hours, and in the rain?

If you were the family member of one of those men, wouldn't you be scared for your dad or uncle too? And probably, more concerned about him than the hostages too.

I will not excuse the many mistakes they made (like not validating first if the hostages were really dead already, as reported by a traumatized bus driver). I will not excuse the incompetence they showed. But the police also seemed to have been left to their own devices, for no one else stepped in, no force that knew better. So, our only hope lay in them and because they weren't trained for it, I guess they can say they did the best they could and we can't blame them.

Even in those times that logic should have at least saved them, I can't blame them. I mean, i'm not exactly sure if we're hiring the brightest there is. And it is so easy to say that they should have done this and that, but had we been in their shoes, we might not have fared better, specially with a lack of training.


Usually, in times like these, you hear or read comments about how it's embarassing to be Filipino. I was pondering that last night. When I saw the link to a Letter of Apology from a Teenage Filipino, I was at first concerned if it would be so profuse in its apologies to the point of undermining our dignity as Filipinos. And when I saw that it wasn't, I shared it at Facebook with this post:

Indeed, yesterday was just a day in our history, like the EDSA Revolution was. Indeed, inasmuch as we failed those HK nationals, many of our countrymen have been serving their fellowmen, and the world, for years.

A friend immediately sennt me a private message to say:
mec i get you, but to say something like that at a time like this is precisely why no changes are made. don't you think we're too nice? as a nation we're so forgiving? and put yourself in the shoes of those who lost loved ones. to be anything but apologetic right now is just insensitive. you know imagine it were someone you loved and this happened and the killer's family tells you, he served your loved one for so long and not to be wary. i would think after an episode like that, it 's justified. it was handled terribly. to make excuses/to rationalize or explain it's just insensitive.

to which I replied:
I get you din sis. I was coming more from the perspective of how so many are ashamed to be Filipinos right now, because of what happened, and how I cannot, in good conscience feel the same, nor think the same.

Technically, I actually don't think we're too nice. I think we're too ambivalent. We are easily affected by such news but never really feel strongly enough to follow through with anything. And that is why, good changes do not happen.

And I maintain that I do not mean to excuse what happened, I do not hope to dismiss the mistakes we made and to ask that everything just be forgiven. It's just that, I also can't say i'm ashamed to be Filipino.

Of course I hope for good changes to come about, for the real issues to be dealt with. My family was just in Quirino Grandstand last Saturday, where I watched my son run after his soccer ball while my husband jogged. And I was thinking to myself then how it's so nice that Luneta feels safe from bad elements now, enough for families to be bringing their kids there for some air and sunshine. And then to have this happen, and to realize that it could easily have been one of us that couldn't be defended and protected right by our police...


And as always, media is sure to invoke their mantra that "they owe the world the truth," forgtetting that there could be bigger things at stake as they bring the truth to the world. In this case, I do believe a media blackout would have benefitted the crisis more, and would have done less damage to our country's, and police force's, morale. I am not even concerned about image, but I am concerned about morale.

People are encouraging everyone to share this link to guidelines for covering hostake-taking crises, uprisings and terrorist actions.

And ABS-CBN was as tasteless as could be last night... I will never see the point of showing the blood-ridden bus just hours after the tragedy transpired. Sure it's the truth but do everyday folk have anything to gain by seeing it?


Wouldn't it be ironic if the hostake taker was charged those corruption charges and dismissed as a scapegoat for other really corrupt police? That he was so devastated because he was so wronged? And that, without even intending to, he managed to bring the police force that wronged him down?

There is no excuse for what he did but still, wouldn't it be ironic indeed?


One other possibility is that he only really did fire warning shots after seeing his brother manhandled and that those civilians who died were killed by the police who reacted to the driver's report. Or that there was a crossfire as the hostage taker defended himself from the onslaught of the police.

If that's the case, would the police/SOCO admit to it?


True, another tragic thing is that those HK nationals brought much needed income for our country via tourism. They were just about to have lunch after a tour of Fort Santiago, I believe. And to experience what they went through...

I do not blame Hong Kong and China, or other countries for that matter, for putting us in their travel black lists. It is what any self-respecting government will do.


The tragedy doesn't end with the lives lost yesterday. There will be fewer tourists. There will be reprimanded or dismissed police. There's the whiplash on our government and economy. And just like what that teenager mentioned in his letter, there will be the angry foreigners our fellowmen are working for.


What happened yesterday is bigger than terrorism, or a disgruntled cop, or an unprepared police force, or bad media.

And as with huge things, we can only really hope to deal with one issue at a time and pray that the ripple effect it will produce will save us some work on the other issues.

(Maybe we can start by making it a policy to secure areas first? Too many usis endanger their lives and aggravate the situation lang!)

And just like when Ondoy hit us, each of us can do something, however small and indirect to help us get back up, instead of keep us down.


This is the official statement from the President.

WORLD... we are apologetic as a Nation. Let us suffer the consequences of our shortcomings but also allow us to build and rebuild. We made a mess and we have to clean it up. We made mistakes and hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes. And in time, I hope we can all move on.


Maybe it helped that our reception was grainy and I was confused by the coverage so I wasn't as emotional too. The most I felt passion for was how some were brought to Ospital ng Maynila when Manila Doctors seemed to me the obvious, nearest choice. Unlike that time soldiers were charging Manila Pen... I had thoughts and side comments on everything.

And yes, Venus Raj's happiness that shone through the Q&A at the Miss Universe pageant really helped. She didn't win top prize but she did make us proud... and what's more, made us realize, that today is another day.


  1. Very nice commentary, Mec.


  2. hey sis...i only found out about this too on facebook statuses of friends. i've been reading the news since then but have not seen any of the video footage and so i really have no opinion on how badly it was executed.

    but today, i saw this:

    how thoughtless is that? i am really really shamed. heaven forbid my co-workers ask me about this because as much as i know how much filipinos love to take pictures, i really don't know how to explain why these people, (SOCO, for real???) would think it's ok to take pictures at the crime scene as if you're in central park. this is so, so wrong. :(


  3. Imma... I am sorry to say that some of the civilians who posed with the bus as backdrop were students from my school, PNU. Their picture was already published in several newspapers in HK and there's already a hate-pic saying that they could be HK's future maids.

    There is no excuse for the inappropriateness of what they did (even with Carlos Celdran's testimony that even Chinese nationals were doing the same, that soooo many were doing the same, and that this happened after the same students attended a solemn ceremony... and wrongly thought to get memento shots taken). But I also cannot wonder when/where the mudslinging and shaming and hating will stop.


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