Grace under fire

Former Police Officer Rolando Mendoza hijacks bus in Manila
Former Police Officer Rolando Mendoza hijacks bus in Manila

The Philippines faces a huge international public relations problem that if we do not resolve soon may increase the threat of retribution against our workers in HK and wreak havoc to our economy by destroying our tourism industry.

We had united to install an honest man as president and our shining victory held us in thrall for a time. President Aquino’s first actions showed an example of humility for us all. Then he set the ball running swiftly to reform our systems to be more transparent and soon we started to see changes happening in many areas of government. Our hope flourished with the positive interest that other countries began to show in the form of grants and proposals for mutually beneficial partnerships in infrastructure development. There was a new spring in our step, we were hopeful and together we thought we could face anything.

Such hopes it seems are easily dashed…

While it is true that the inept handling of the hostage-taking event by the police and the lust of media for a story was a terrible combination that led to a tragedy that could have been avoided, it is not fair to blame such tragedy on a government that has only begun. It appears that it will take years of mental, physical and tacticaltraining for our police to be adequately skilled. I have never been a fan of our police, but in their defense, despite being ill-equipped, they tried to penetrate the bus and put their lives at risk in the process. They only lacked training and equipment, but not courage and courage is harder to come by. Perhaps sensitivity is also severely lacking, but I do not believe they have no compassion. Perhaps it is time to stop the jokes at their expense. When we can honestly claim that we have the courage to do what they did on that day then we would have license to ridicule them but not before.

The very first crisis that has come to our new government has scattered us. Instead of standing fast by each other, for our country, we have lost heart so soon. The tragic death of the HK tourists has left many of us wallowing in shame as if what happened were the collective fault of all Filipinos, and in our shame we have joined the chorus of blame and turned our backs on victories of recent months.

The HK Chinese are understandably grief-stricken and we must show compassion for their loss. However, to bash our government in an effort to show unity with the Chinese does not serve our interests. To prostrate ourselves before HK would only foster the racist tendencies some of them already have against Filipinos and allow them to treat us with contempt before the international community. On the other hand, trading invectives and being combative with them would only aggravate the problem and possibly cause them to maltreat our OFWs.

What we need is to rally together and help our country in pacifying HK’s bloodlust. How to achieve this? Social media is an ideal tool for peace-making. We must understand and communicate to the Chinese that this is not a fight between them and Filipinos. The death of their kin is a tragedy that none of us would have wished on our enemies so we must reach out in compassion and empathy, but never in shame. We must let no one mock the symbols of our State including our President. We must keep our heads up, reach out as fellow human beings that understand the pain of loss, while comporting ourselves with dignity and remembering that we must not lose sight of all that could be ours if we do not allow ourselves be divided again.

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This piece was written by Sheryl Ebarvia Coronel, reposted here with permission.

The ProPinoy Project