Today I’m not going to write something about food or any of my food adventures. Instead, I take this opportunity to enjoin everyone to remember, to reflect, to ponder what happened last night, that rainy night at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
It all started as a simple hostage taking. Ronaldo Mendoza, a disgruntled cop sacked for various criminal complaints, took hostage a bus full of tourists and holed up at the grandstand. He wanted his benefits back, and his charges dismissed.
Police negotiators tried to coax Mendoza out. Certain members of the media were asked to let him air his grievances. His sympathetic brother-cop tried to negotiate. But when the police took the brother away for questioning as an accomplice, and when many others interfered, agitating Mendoza, everything went downhill.
The hostage taking ended around 9PM, as the rain fell down on the lifeless body of Mendoza dangling at the buss door, while the police cowered outside the bus. It’s like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, except that there were no badass negotiators or cops, just one bloody mess.
In the end, nine of the hostages were confirmed dead. Hong Kong has banned travel to the Philippines. China has slammed the incident. President Benigno Aquino III expresses disappointment as fingers are pointed everywhere and every concerned official starts cleaning up. The rest of the world is left in shock.
I don’t intend to speak like an expert on the hostage taking, because I’m not. I’ll leave this to the news analysts and scholars and opinion blogs. In fact, I don’t even know where to start when it comes to this issue, or if there’s anyone to blame for the bloody end of the incident, if there could have been better ways to deal with it, or what went wrong in the first place. Or something like that.
Was it the cops, who failed through and through to get to Mendoza, first in the negotiations, and then at the assault? Was it the negotiators, who were unable to appease him long enough into letting the hostages escape? Was it the media, who unwittingly broadcasted what instigated him into going on a rampage, and then made every single move the police made known even to him? Was it the government? Was it the kibitzers? Could it be that Mendoza had it coming? Again, I’ll leave this to the news analysts and scholars and opinion blogs.
I would like to urge everyone to reflect on what happened last night, to ponder, and finally, to pray. The hostage crisis left such a great scar on the hostaged and wounded tourists, on their families, on the already tarnished image of the police and government, on the Philippines itself. What we need now is healing, prayer, solidarity, and strength to rise up and rebuild.
Let us all pray that this country can clean up this mess, the sould of those who died may rest in peace, those who survived and were left behind, the government may find enlightenment and wisdom to handle this. Let us all pray that such an incident would never happen again.
In other news, Miss Philippines Venus Raj is now among the Top 5 in the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant. Too bad for me, my TV signal’s gone kaput, and live streaming of the pageant is out of the question. I’ll just tune in to the internet news and see if Venus will be the silver lining in the cloud hanging over the country now. Get that crown! We’re rooting for you!
As I’m writing this, I’m trying to get up despite being emotionally and physically drained, especially after what happened since yesterday. I’m thankful enough that God has given me one more day to live, especially that until now my chest is aching and I can’t breathe properly. Don’t worry, I won’t bitch about my heart as I did before. Wait…
Now then, I wonder what I should have for lunch. I don’t have the appetite, but well…
(EDIT: Miss Philippines Venus Raj won 4th place!)