Monday, September 06, 2010

National Solipsism

Two weeks after the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis fiasco, national media is still picking over its carcass and regurgitating it supposedly for our benefit. We get live coverage of retrospective investigations and armchair analysis of the shouldas-wouldas-couldas: all par for the course, I understand. I would switch off if I could, but it's hard to turn on the television or open the newspaper without catching a glimpse of yet another angle on the incident.

Yet for all the commentary and the coverage, there's something national media continues to miss out on, or perhaps glosses over: the victims.

Who were the victims? What were their names? What jobs did they have? How old were they? Why did they choose to come to the Philippines for a holiday? What places did they visit? How did they spend their last hours? Who did they leave behind?

We've already heard so much about the hostage-taker and his grievances, of his brother, of his children, even of his hometown. But when it comes to the victims, there's practically nothing. It's as if national media has decided to put on blinders on themselves and on us. Why, I wonder.

Is it because they were not Filipinos and therefore not our concern? Or have we become too inured to the violence in our own midst that we don't really care anymore?

Post-crisis, we seem to be more concerned about our image abroad. We're thinking about how local tourism will suffer because of the incident. We're worried about how Hong Kong will treat our OFWs. And just a day after the crisis, we took a break from the shock and to grief to wink "major major". In short, we're thinking about ourselves and how other people look at us. Even in this crisis, we can't tear our attention away from ourselves and from our livelihoods.

Where, o Filipinos, has our humanity gone?

The victims: Daniel Magadia, 18 M; Ken Leung Kam Wing, 57 M; Doris Leung Chung See, 21 F; Jessie Leung Song Yi, 14 F; Keon Leung, 45 M; Fu Cheuk Yan, 39 M; Yeung Yee Wa, 45 F; Tse Ting Cheung, 31 M. Ken, Doris, and Jessie Leung were father and children, leaving behind a mother and a brother. Tse Ting Cheung was the tour guide of the bus. Please pray for them.