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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Backseat Experts

But on Monday, they were just couch potatoes glued to the tragedy that's unfolding like most Cannes films. Surreal with much magic realism. Too real to be real. Everyone suspended their disbelief.

The next day and the next, everyone became an overnight expert on hostage negotiations, on psychology, on tactical operations, on journalism. Forums worldwide raged with brilliant should-have-been's, should-have-done's and should-have-not's.

But last Monday, the world was just watching while hostages die and get killed in color, in crisp CNN, GMA 7 and ABS CBN's HD sound. What do you call people who just watch and let people die, as if it was some gothic entertainment?

When they finally meet their gods and the gods ask, where were they when that happened? What would they say?

Millions of people all over the world were watching when eight innocent people died. Millions of people their hands on the remote, but not tied. If millions of educated, civilized, upright people couldn't stop a single man from committing a coldblooded act, how can the same people stop deep-rooted cultural and religious wars?

Imagine what the victims felt looking outside the bus window, at people gawking at them and the media, both local and international covering the "event." The world is watching, but why are we still here, death coming to us any moment?

That was Monday.

The next day and the next, the couch potatoes became experts, conceived without sin.


  1. I was in a hostage situation once. Yes, you read that right. It was my mom's 40th day (after she died) and our family sponsored a mass. I don't usually go to mass -- knew it was a bad idea. (haha). We were at giving the sign of peace when some madman armed with a revolver being chased by the police, hostaged this girl and dragged her behind the altar. Of course first instinct was to get out of the building. Right outside, I started counting heads (of my family). Everyone was accounted for except for an elderly aunt. So before the backup for the police arrived, me and my brother had to go back inside the church where the madman was. There we found other people frozen in fear and unable to escape. The priest was negotiating with hostage taker and offering himself in lieu of the little girl. Me and my brother took this opportunity to lead everyone out (except the little girl and the priest). Once out, we found out that the elderly aunt RAN all the way home (haha!). By this time, backup had arrived, and all of the media and the usual politicos. This incident became a cover of Asiaweek. It was during the time of Ramos.

  2. at least, in your case, good people did something, anything. dangerous, crazy, it might have seemed.

  3. On that day, going back inside, I was willing to die. I don't want that to sound more heroic than it actually was, but you have to be prepared for that thing not going according to plan. I said a little prayer, held my breath for a minute, then it was go. But one thing on my side though -- I am a ninja! Hahaha... my pumpkins really believed I was. They were still very young then.

  4. someone needs to be a ninja sometimes. but even my favorite president failed to play a part, any part at all. the guy had been ill-advised indeed!