Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Manila Holiday







You crouch on the floor, a growing pool of blood under your feet. Smoke, as suffocating as your fear, fills the bus. Your eyes burn and your throat hurts. You hold on to your husband's hand for courage, though the warmth is slowly fading from his lifeless body. Your three children have been sprayed with bullets and, though you refuse to accept it, you're almost sure they're dead, too. The man with the gun is shouting in a language you can barely understand. He fires again. Amid the gunshots, you hear an anguished scream, and you recognize it as your own...

A realization: all your training and years in service have not prepared you for a situation like this. An ex-police officer has hijacked a bus and has taken hostage the 25 Chinese tourists on board. Thirty of you surround the bus, each armed with a weapon possibly none of you had ever had the need to use before today, awaiting the next signal. You have been taught to follow orders. You pin yourself flat against the bus, its walls hot on your back and your gun cold and heavy in your hand. Beads of sweat form on your brow. You know in your gut that things have already gone horribly wrong, and you pray to God that this is not the day you die...

You are glued to the TV, watching the live coverage of the hostage drama unfold like a low-budget flick on the screen--- a poorly-written script, a weak storyline and an escalating death toll. You sit in the safety of your living room, 16 kilometers away from the heart of the action. You are physically detached, and you deny that it affects you. You and the hostage taker have more things in common than you care to admit: a land of birth, a history that has withstood many adversities, a rich and colorful culture and, now, shame that has made all the nation's citizens equal, for all the world to see. Despite the newscaster's propensity for dramatic articulation which borders on hilarity, you feel, more than anything else, sadness. You are physically removed, but it's as personal as it gets...

And the rain continues to pour.

(photo by Rhett de Jesus)

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1 comment:

CNSacris said...

ang galing mo sumulat. hayop.