When the smoke cleared and the bodies were counted, as Mendoza’s story slowly is spread to a visibly shaken nation, I am shattered by the vicious remarks brought to my doorstep courtesy of Facebook. I see words like “Only in the Philippines” and “nakakahiya tayo.” Here are my countrymen, talking about themselves as though everything that had been done wrong at the Quirino Grandstand was a national trait, as though stupidity were possible only here and the only ones capable of it are Filipinos. And then, I remember with sadness that it is also my own countrymen, who, when seeing a beautiful place in the Republic say with awe, “Ang ganda dito, parang wala tayo sa Pilipinas!”
Of course P/Insp R. Mendoza comitted a criminal act. Of course the police officers and media persons and networks could have handled matters in a more sensitive and timely manner. But it also especially hurts when these mistakes are ascribed as national traits. Only in the Philippines daw. And only Filipinos could screw up this badly.
The vultures can’t resist jeering and insulting. Stupid media. Stupid cops. Stupid Mendoza. Stupid by-standers. The Filipino nation is stupid.
Our ancestors believed in the concept of an afterlife when many other peoples of the world were still figuring out how to make stone tools. Our forebears crossed the Pacific years before the Vikings crossed the Atlantic. They cultivated rice when many others were still living in caves. They had the first revolution in Asia that united no less than three disparate linguistic groups through a leader named Diego Silang whose wife became his successor. This nation produced women leaders and warriors when much of Europe still considered the female gender as mere chattel. My country abolished slavery two hundred years ahead of the so called New World. My country, whose history and treasures remain mysteries to its own children, cannot and should not be defined by the mistakes of yesterday’s events
And we will not be defined by this tragedy. But we must learn from it. And the first lesson should and ought to be not to add any more hurt to a nation prostate with grief. So much blood ignites so much passion. But we can either flagellate ourselves until there is nothing left of our self esteem. Or we can turn this into an impetus for change. Real change.
So, I will mourn today. I will grieve for all the victims, yes Mendoza included. I will mourn for all the ignorance that makes an embarassing display of itself in times of crisis. I will mourn for the good men and women of the PNP who feel the brunt of the national outrage, but who will go to work tomorrow and still go after the bad guys, still keep us safe. I will mourn for media persons who must live with the effects of their live broadcasts.
But after that, I will choose hope and faith in my countrymen.