In the News: Manila Hostage Crisis? No, it’s Miss Universe

Aug 25, 2010

An 11-hour hostage drama in Manila shows the world just how some Filipinos turn amnesiac and thoughtless when facing grave situations.


When I got to the gym last night, the widescreen TVs were all on the hostage crisis, where a tour bus with Hong Kong and Chinese nationals was held captive by a former police officer. The SWAT team was all lined up at the side of the bus; someone was trying to pry open the door with a sledgehammer.

I stepped onto the machine to do my 20+ minutes of cardio.

I was almost done with my workout and they still were trying to enter the bus, this time from the back door. A lot of the trainers and some of the clients were watching the spectacle unfold. I noticed two Filipino guys who positioned themselves near one of the monitors; they were joking and laughing at the attempts of our police to subdue one hostage-taker.

“Either we Filipinos have a knack of trying to make light any situation,” I said to myself, “or they’re two of the most insensitive jerks who never realised that there are Chinese nationals who are also clients in this gym.”

We really do have this, “Well, what else can we do but laugh at ourselves?” mentality, especially in the face of enormous trial. We did it with typhoon Ondoy. And even in the face of outrage, we just had to joke about the Maguindanao massacre.


The bloody conclusion to Monday's hijacking  left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker dead.

The bloody conclusion to Monday's hijacking left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker dead.

Photo: sakuradate


So when the next morning came and with it, the spectacle of the grandest beacon of all, Miss Universe, many were understandably excited as evidenced by the numerous tweets and FB status updates. It’s as if people were grasping at some good news, having our national image dragged to hell the night before. Someone even joked to me, “The hostage taking was sooo last season! Charos.” It’s as if, please Lord, let the Miss Universe wash away the blood and embarrassment of the night before.

But even if Venus Raj was crowed Miss Universe, our triumph will be but short-lived. Sure, our networks can try and milk the good news beyond its 15 minutes. But being crowned doesn’t even come close to the senseless deaths of eight people, and the embarrassing aftermath.

Yes, it’s unfair to link the two. But reading all those tweets this morning, I can’t help but notice a palpable, nay, willful choice to forget the hostage debacle and replace it with a “major, major” world event. And I can’t blame them. As much as we like to run to our teleseryes to run away from reality, we needed the distraction from Las Vegas, even if only for a few hours.

But unfortunately Venus Raj stumbled in her Q&A portion. Now as Hong Kong and China are raising questions and issues about how we handled the hostage crisis and the safety of the Philippines as a tourist destination, we seem to be stumbling as well in our Q&A portion.


This post was originally published on The McVie Show in August 2010.


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