This is what we could do

Saturday was a normal day. I was rushing people in and out of jeepneys, following up those who left for breakfast and calling up those who might come in late. And, yes, we left at twenty-five past eight. But there was something lurking behind us.

The day before - and, as you may well all know - the (former, technically) assistant manager of the McDonald's branch beside DLSU shot dead his new manager, just as she was being installed into the position, and then would later shoot himself outside the establishment. No wonder my commute that day was tediously long in that exact spot. That Saturday morning I was pretty clueless - all I got was that there were gunshots, and Ian's friend had a photo of the lifeless body of the assistant manager, taken from a mobile. And some of us were sad. Point was, this was what someone could do because of money.

I only got to read the newspapers Saturday night, and the only one I did see was two tabloids headlining the incident. One had a photo of that guy on the front page - all bloodied, with SOCO officials looking around making sense of it all. Luckily it was in black and white. But its sister tabloid published the same photo - in full, unnecessary color. Only them did I understand the casualness of the murder - it just had to happen. Impulse, even.

Back to Saturday morning, and Jollibee was extraordinarily crowded. The McDonald's branch was closed for the morning. We were running late, and all we could have talked about, for those who have heard of it (I still haven't), was that thing, that event, that unnecessary loss. And then, you check back and see that some have sensationalized it again just to rake in profits from adrenalin-driven readers. I remember my dad getting so affected by the same newspaper publishing, in the same manner, a burnt mother and her children, killed in a fire.

Then we were on our way to Barangay Tagumpay. Ariane came in fifteen minutes before. Kizia, asking me to "not let the driver leave without me", arrived five minutes afterwards. Then, the people that made Jollibee an instant hit that day came in. On another side of the world, though, something was happening. At least it wasn't as sensationalized as before - it couldn't, since technically there were no red bodies to photograph - but it made me think about my current standing.

"Ilan po, sixty-six?" I asked someone as I began looking for my tutees.

"Oo, sixty-six," the man said. "Kawawa naman," another said.

A couple were huddled near the closest television. Sixty-six were killed - back then - in a stampede preceeding the Wowowee live anniversary show, just kilometers away.

"May sumigaw daw ng 'bomba'," someone explained. "May nahulog daw," somebody else said. It was confusing. What surprised me the most was how quick the news spread across the community. These people - technically the urban poor, the very people that you would expect joining such programs, trying their luck - have been spreading stuff around, like wildfire. We kids teaching, the kids we're teaching, even the people fixing the library, supposedly isolated from the world for three hours while smelling wall paint - it spread just like that. If anybody knew how it felt - I couldn't - every television was on one channel, and every store was full of people trying to see through and make sense of the other incident. They were there as Willie Revillame - unrightfully blamed by some - tried to reassure people that the show would push through (it didn't), as Noli de Castro revised the figure to sixty-one dead, and as an irritated audience member lashed out against the production staff of the show to a GMA reporter.

And all televisions were there. I was teaching another adopted kid percentages, and I found myself using the figured blasted out on the telly.

Ate Alma from CRC apparently thought she didn't like those shows as it gave people false hopes. Steph thought Willie shouldn't have been blamed for everything. Ian hasn't heard - and was similarly shocked. Back in the jeep home, behind the remaining party animals singing songs, Ale revised the number - seventy dead. And then there was the usual depression. Ian did say it right - that day was depressing. People just died left and right.

Who brought them there? I'm not blaming ABS-CBN for anything, but their deal was just too irresistible for some. There were news of lines forming as early as Monday morning, all willing to win even just around a thousand bucks - now that would've made a good deal, wouldn't it? Two million bucks, or a trike, or a house, not to mention the chance to see celebrities. It was them who made the big fuss about the show, who worked endlessly to have it all set up, who made every little effort work.

If anyone realizes, the moment we graduate that's what we'll end up doing.

This is what we could do. With the rate we're going, we'll end up having the ability to persuade people, to educate people, to inform people, to educate people - and, without us knowing it, we're to change their lives for better or worse. We could make them happy - or make them dead. We could trigger sensitivities or insensitivities. We could start fights, or mediate between those who already are. We could give them something new, or take away something old. That is what we could do - and that's some big thing.

And if we don't get it right, we would make things turn left and keep them there. Just look at how some have been affected at what they read, at what they see, at what they hear - it isn't just because of the content in some cases, but because of the way it's been sent across. I know we still have a lot to learn - and we still are - and who ever stopped? - and it would help if we realize that it isn't about the money, or the fame, or anything else but the people we'll potentially serve. We couldn't just turn the world around, but we sure could change stuff.

Not that I'm blaming anyone, but isn't it nice to be aware?

This is what we could do, and we couldn't just let anybody sneak it out of our sights.

And your responses...

I was suprise when i heard the news about that stampede... I honestly dont know what the show wowowee is about, but like many Fils here said, You cant blame those people for joining games shows. It was just so sad that many people died due a terrible accident like that.. what a tragedy...

there's no use on blaming anyone. I just hope people will think next time these circumstance occur..

Blogger Frances2/07/2006     

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