Yesterday, my country made headlines in major news networks CNN and BBC through a hostage-taking incident in the Quirino Grandstand. At work, I could only rely on tweet updates. The FX ride home was tuned into a FM station that had the DJs discussing the incidence. After an afternoon of wondering how on earth any hostage-taker thinks the act will end well, I came home knowing eight Chinese nationals had died. The event’s tragic conclusion answered my question: acts of insanity, done out of desperation and madness, will never see a successful ending.
At the least, the police could have done more to keep all the hostages alive, particularly the tourists. I may not be an expert on hostage crisis management, but local police have yet to impress me. It’s annoying and unnecessary enough they “catch” middle to upper class drivers missing (well, read that as MISINTERPRETING) a turn or two during early morning, lunch time, or snack time. Now it’s just downright unfortunate, infuriating, and somehow pathetic they didn’t do a better job. Articles on the victim’s statements always emphasize them saying that help should have gone sooner and that no assistance was felt while they waited.
Apart from the lives lost, the incident leaves a tainted mark on Philippine tourism and yet another negative impression of Filipinos around the world. We’ve gone from an adolescent botox scandal (thanks to an local-turned-international singer Oprah loves) to nearby neighbors discouraging their people from visiting my motherland. On a lighter note, there’s Venus Raj’s rather unclear and wrong grammar-d answer at Ms. Universe. Top that with our main overseas “sale” as domestic helpers (leaving other professions unnoticed and more focus on the stereotype).
Not that this drives me into the “so embarassing to be a Filipino!” mentality many of my kababayans (countrymen/women) are going into. Who are we to generalize, even for ourselves? Sure we represent an entire race with our individual actions, but to let that incident–or any embarrassing or negative acts–represent us entirely, is just idiotic. Remember how unfair it was that a Muslim would be detained because he/she was so after 9/11? Thankfully, reports from Hong Kong say that Filipinos living there have not experienced any trouble since yesterday. Let’s stick to that mature and responsible reaction. There are more serious issues at hand and other problems from the past that have yet to be resolved. Hopefully though, the police also take this is a HUGE wake up call and finally clean up their act. Although the ending was more than unfortunate, this is only the beginning of the new direction our country needs to shift into.