I have to admit that I was not able to keep myself abreast of yesterday’s hostage drama. It was, after all, a busy day – having to come to school (on what was otherwise my rest day) to iron out Graduation Committee concerns, then having to rush to Century Park Hotel for the last round of payments for this year’s bar operations, I didn’t even make it back to school in time for the opening ceremonies of the evening students week (and the free food they had to offer).
As I rushed from one appointment to another, all I knew (from having checked inquirer.net earlier in the day) was that a busload of people had been hostaged somewhere in Manila – something which didn’t quite alarm me, as it wasn’t even a new stunt (recall how, back in 2007, Jun Ducat did the same thing to a busload of pre-school children, just blocks away from where Rolando Mendoza pulled his own frenzied stunt). So, home I went, not even bothering to turn the TV on to check on the news, straight to the bed for a much needed nap.
A couple of hours later, I got up and, not having anything to read for the next day (as I had finished with my PubOff readings a week early), nonchalantly logged into Facebook, just looking forward to surfing and hoping to sloth the night off. It was then that I was jolted into awakenness at how events had taken a turn for the tragic. First was a friend’s status message announcing that two hostages had died. Then there were the countless expressions of dismay at Manila’s finest – they who seem to be fine at nothing but torture and human rights violations – the government and the media, for their ‘superbly prudent’ coverage of the crisis. There were those who warned of ramifications, most notably for tourism. Others had preferred to joke, claiming how Leon Guerrero could have mounted a better rescue effort, or wondering how Venus Raj could still viably banner world peace. Still later, Manolo Quezon, posted a status message declaring that four had been confirmed dead, the first statement that, in the confusion, had a tinge of being official.
But whether it be by way of clever sarcasm, concerned lamentation or virtual outburst, it was clear and palpable how, at that very moment, on Facebook, Filipinos were grieving; strikingly afflicted at how a nation already reeling from poverty, corruption, disrespect for basic liberties and diaspora, could not even catch a break from the utter embarrassment of a law enforcer going on a murderous rampage directed at guests who were supposedly the object of the Filipino’s world-renowned hospitality. As another Facebook user astutely put it, even the skies were shedding tears for a people mired in melancholy; as indeed last night, a torrent came just as bullets were being planted in our guests heads. Yet another, in exasperation, looked to God for answers, asking how we as a people must endure yet another crisis.
As I sat there, I watched as ordinary Filipinos expressed their lamentations – something that no award winning news coverage could ever capture. That night, a people wept, and that weeping was far from virtual.
LUIS JOSE F. GERONIMO
Entry No. 11