08-23-2010: Bloodshed at Quirino Grandstand Manila
Indeed, Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, central Manila, capital of the Philippines, is one historical place. It was here where several presidents took their oaths, celebrate the independence of the country from the United States, concerts and a whole lot more. It is a landmark dedicated to the former President Elpidio Quirino. The Grandstand that I guess all Filipinos know and synonymous to Luneta and Rizal Park–just several meters away from the place. On August 01, 2010, the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, took oath here. On August 23, 2010–a massacre unfolds as a former policeman took hostage of Hong Kong nationals in a stand-off that left the hostage and several hostages dead, and a mark of trauma in the image of the Philippines in the international community. Luneta has seen another blood spilt over her domain.
At around 10AM, an former policeman, identified as Rolando Mendoza, took hostage of several foreign tourists in a bus whom are supposed to visit Luneta and the Manila Ocean Park as reported. Mendoza brought a high-powered M16 rifle–guns for “big boys/police.” He demands to be reinstated after being dismissed from his job due to an extortion case. Negotiations went all the way, several hostages were freed. However, it failed. At around 7PM, gunshots were fired from the bus and the police went on to storm the said bus. The storming left Mendoza dead, three (as of the moment) hostages are confirmed dead and several are injured.
The weather seemed to have been cooperating with the mood at Manila. The storming scene sent heavy rainshowers, streaks of lightning and thunderstorm. Like Hollywood, but its for real!
The drama was beamed all over the world, through CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sahara India, KBS, Channel News Asia, Star Phoenix and TVE as I’ve monitored. Yes indeed, Philippines got international exposure–on a negative light!
August 23rd of the year 2010, is a sad day for the Philippines and for those who have lost their loved ones in the said drama. It ended up in a blood bath. Now that the crisis is over, as usual, there would be a lot of pointing fingers on who is responsible for the mess. Some say that we need to snap up our police force–check their morale and their psyche. The police image here in the Philippines has failed miserably, a few days before, a video exposé of police brutality was shown by the media. Looks like the Philippine National Police has a lot to do cleaning up the ranks! The Filipinos ask, is the Philippine National Police still trustworthy?
Quirino Grandstand, where the drama/crisis unfolded:
View Quirino Grandstand – Manila Hostage Drama in a larger map
On the other side, media was to blame with the full-blown coverage of the situation. I heard that the hostage-taker (or his brother) got weary because of the media coverage. Does the media help the dissemination or simply making matters worse? I’ve said earlier, the drama was broadcasted all over the world! So much for media mileage and Philippine exposure. Something that the new administration of the Department of Tourism should start cleaning up and do some damage control. Just as now, Hong Kong officials have issued a travel advisory against the Philippines. It would really be a great impact in our tourism industry–since the hostages were tourists!
There are a lot of questions that still bother the Filipinos right now, but the most pressing is, why does it even have to happen?
On August 23, 2010, at around 8PM, the hostage crisis was over. The body of Mendoza was at the door. Dead hostages were taken out of the bus and the strong survived this fateful day.
Tomorrow, I’ll try to visit the site. At least offer some prayers for those who have lost their lives and to seek out justice out of this mess.
The crisis is over. The question is, how to we move on from this juncture?
Indeed, the skies of Manila mourned. The thunder stopped but the rain still poured. The streets were flooded, with tears coming from the sky. El cielo estaba llorando sobre Manila, ese noche. The sky was crying over Manila, that night.