23 August – Manila
An ex-cop took 25 Chinese Tourists hostage on board a tourist bus –a standoff which lasted 11 hours, leaving ten people dead, including the gunman. It was all over the news, radio, and web yesterday and sparked yet another security-issue in the Philippines. Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, criticized the handling of the crisis stating the outcome “disappointing” and consequently put up a travel ban against the country. Six countries allegedly followed.
Blames were thrown, statements of condemnation were likewise expressed, media coverage was highly controversial. It all came crashing down that the country was in for a series of media frenzy, the kind one wouldn’t want to be in –notoreity.
I was in my new apartment yesterday, nursing my twisted ankle. So in between my surfing and stings, I came across the crisis. I watched hostage-taking coverage before in 2007 in which a teacher, Jun Ducat, held 30+ students of his day care “to denounce corruption and demand better lives for the impoverished.” Another one was the bloodiest I’ve seen. I couldn’t remember the man’s name but it was also set in a bus station, wherein he held up a two-year-old and threatened to stab him. After moments of negotiation and a failure at that, he stabbed the child multiple times, and he was shot to death. All of which were seen on television.
We cannot blame tourists for pulling out their visits, much less the countries who put up the travel ban. At the same time, we can cannot blame fellow Filipinos who have expressed their distaste about the crisis and other viewers and web-users alike out there who have seen the standoff progress and end with casualties, resulting in fear and exacerbating the concept that we are living in a ‘risk society.’
23 August – Las Vegas
Venus Raj, 22, Ms Philippines, finished fourth runner-up in the Miss Universe 2010 held at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. After 11 years, Ms Philippines made it into the finals, following Ms Miriam Quiambao’s victory as first-runner up in 1999. Throughout history, two Filipinas were crowned Ms Universe, namely Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margie Moran (1973). Pageants are quite a huge deal in the Philippines, for its entertainment value and the fact that we feel proud that a beautiful and intelligent Filipina represents the country despite all its setbacks.
A lot of opinions flooded timelines, status and blog entries. Wish she could’ve answered this, wish she could’ve answered that. And yet again, we can never blame them for thinking Ms Raj didn’t give her best in making it that far in the competition. However, a huge chunk of viewers, including me, still believe Venus Raj made us proud and she became an icon in the Philippine History.
Two totally different events that agitated Filipinos not only in the country but everywhere. Back to back events that resulted in pointing fingers, issues of governance and strategy in handling these crises, questioning media, its values and ethics and created this unnecessary feeling of disappointment for some. How do we even make something out of these? Do we have to?
On behalf of the Filipino nation, I am deeply sorry to the families and relatives of the victims of the standoff .
To Bb Pilipinas Venus Raj, Congratulations, you made us proud and lifted our spirits high amidst the grave situation.
Time to heal, Philippines.
Aug 25 is proclaimed National Day of Mourning. It would take 10 dead tourists, an ex-cop with a bruised ego down, media greed and security blunders to get this country to grieve. We always have to have something tragic and heinous to happen before we even start caring. How about the thousands who starve daily? Domestic violence? Health and suffering?