Note from the homeland.

photo from Balita.ph As we think about and remember another tragedy that happened today, I asked around, and not many people in Toronto have heard about the bus hostage crisis that happened here in Manila. It happened a mere 15-minute walk from where I am staying in Malate at Carlos Celdran’s balikbayan landing pad. It happened the same day I flew out of Toronto to come here on a research project for Kapisanan.

There’s been a whole lot of tsismis about what exactly went wrong. The investigation is now being televised. Carlos Celdran organized a 17 km bike ride, joined by some 200 cyclists, to support the Department of Tourism because local hotels are suffering through hundred-room cancellations.

Celdran bike tour

There were rumours over text messaging, twitter, email, etc over planned attacks targeted at Filipino workers in Hong Kong. To actually feel the palpable tension between HK Chinese and Filipinos, makes me nervous to say the least.

Then it came out that the Philippine Police were responsible for shooting the hostages! OMG. And then it came out that Mayor Lim was feeling “Dirty Harry” and was the one commanding the entire crisis, but from a restaurant a few blocks away (because he needed to get a cup of coffee)! OMG. And there are rumors that the President Noy-noy was in a night club in Timog in the 11th hour of the crisis. AND the Philippine Police did not block out the press, so the ENTIRE thing was being broadcast LIVE across the world. AND the gunman inside the bus, was watching the broadcast from inside the bus! OMG. Seriously? 8 people dead. What a crazy, tragic, disaster.

Manila Times headline: Police to blame for deaths

Carlos Celdran was invited to be part of a “town hall” type of panel on an evening news program called “Strictly Politics”. Everyone on the panel was an expert in their own right. And at the end of it, Carlos says “heads have to roll” – as in, Mayor Lim’s. I agree, and so did everyone else on the panel, however reluctantly. You see, Carlos’ candor is rare and rarely acceptable in Philippine culture, but this time it had to be said. The other thing everyone agreed on too, was the sentiment of being tired of the Philippines being the “4th runner up on the world stage,” figuratively and literally.

Carlos Celdran in the Studio

"Everything about this (crisis) is mediocre and un-world class, from the police, sorry, from the media, to even the grammar of everybody who was talking...Everything was to such a level that we have accepted mediocrity in our society, and we have to stop accepting mediocrity," Carlos Celdran said.

He added: "We should start demanding and striving for excellence."

A sentiment in which, I wholeheartedly agree.

-- Caroline Mangosing, Kapisanan Executive Director