Of Vows, Transparency, and Tactics

We did vow transparency.” – Noynoy Aquino, President of the Republic of the Philippines

That was what the president said in response to being questioned about not ordering a media blackout.

I say that the president was well-meaning but I also believe that he is taking the term in a very unrealistic and impractical way. Transparency does not mean giving out information as it happens. Or you may say that that is how I believe it to be so. If it were so, and he would want to keep on his vows, he would have to air everything, every transaction, every meeting, in the government as they happen. And it would just be impossible.

However, I am also not of the opinion that a media blackout would have been helpful. As has been reported, he had access to a TV. If the president had ordered a media blackout, I believe, it would only have infuriated the hostage-taker, Rolando Mendoza, and there may not have been a single survivor – to mean, the hostage-taker could have killed all who were still in the bus but himself.

I am not one who knows a good deal about tactics. Though, I do believe, as many will agree with me, that the police forces that responded to the situation could have done better.

The negotiation failed miserably – that’s a given. But what happened after the negotiations did not have to happen that way.

A very evident mistake would be one on the tear gas. No, I don’t believe that they didn’t have to use it. But I do believe that it was stupid for them not to think of preparing gas masks if they intended to gas the bus. Did they think that they would be immune to its effects while expecting that the hostage-taker would suffer?

While they are saying that only the snipers fired any shots during the incident, I cannot help but think that some of the bullets that hit some of the tourists are from the police force. And even if it’s true that it’s just the snipers, there’s also a chance that those bullets from the snipers hit a victim given that they were shooting while it was still too dark inside the bus.

The media could have also done better. They knew that the hostage-taker had access to the TV, still they gave a real-time coverage of the event complete with descriptive commentaries.

Yes, the police was not able to control them but they should’ve known better and have been more responsible.

Crowd control was very bad. The affair was hardly over and onlookers have already started to swarm the tour bus. And the police officers were not able to stop them.

As I’ve said, I believe that many will agree with me that the police force didn’t respond well. It was not a display of competence. They might have even shown that the criminals can fear them even less.

Yes, they did kill the suspect but, still they were bested.

On a final note, a believe that the Hong Kong government did a rather extreme response by telling its people to “avoid travelling to the Philippines.” We all know that what happened was very bad and we all regret that it happened that way. But unless it was proven that the hostage-taker, Rolando Mendoza, was part of an organized crime group, we can still say that it was an isolated case.


The Wise Turtle of the Gulf

Cool, deep blue waters nurturing life, shimmering fierily where light struck it. Iridescent coral reefs sheltering the smallest of creatures. Schools of fishes freely swimming, taking on the natural cycle of life.

Life has been as blissful for me and the other creatures whom I’ve spent the first few decades of my life with. Life has been genuinely resplendent. It has almost appeared surreal. All those times we were always grateful that we were blessed to have been born in such a wonderful place.

We have come to believe that our existence will never be disturbed. That our lives have begun and will end in this paradise. We knew of humans but we have also believed that our seas are far too distant for any of them to be able to lay waste to this splendid space.

Evidently, we are also mindful of the reality that humans, irrespective of how superior they imagine themselves to be, are capable of being such savages.

However, we have been mistaken. We have not foreseen that our waters will be encroach by humans for the day came when they started building a huge metal structure in the middle
of the ocean.

Being the creatures that we are, we couldn’t prohibit them. We weren’t able to protect our waters and stop them from proceeding. Days passed while the humans continued to slowly destroy our home while we lived in the shadow of the fear that we may not wake to see a new day. We didn’t know what they desired.

After some time, they appeared to have finished their metalwork as there have been no visible alterations in the structure for a few days already. We observed as we tried to understand what the humans wanted. We have also been grateful that it didn’t seem like they came for us.

Soon we were able to infer from their activities and movements that they were digging into the depths of the Earth and are gathering a rather black and filthy substance.

We soon opted to attempt to live in the manner that we used to – the way we lived before the humans came to our waters. It never occurred to us that this foul matter will bring a catastrophe to our kind.

The day came when the metal construction failed and it was engulfed in flames. Soon, the black matter spread all over the beautiful waters. Naturally, we too began to get bathed in black. The seas became a dark and filthy space while we struggled to live.

Days went on and our numbers continue to decline. My brothers slowly died and soon the ocean started to be filled with our lifeless comrades.

The glorious waters that we once lived in peacefully have now become a revolting dark space.

Soon, I know, soon I will join my brothers. We know better than to depend on humans to make things right. And I will leave this foul place grateful that I no longer have to endure this misfortune that the humans brought upon us.

Guns, IV Final Chase

After the third bullet, the man wanted to observe his handiwork. But he didn’t have the time to observe the woman for he can already hear that, somewhere in the distance, sirens were already blaring. He started to think that it was nothing more than an ambulance but it only took him a moment to realize that it could be more.

His eyes suddenly started looking everywhere, searching for something, nothing, anything!

Run, hide, escape!

As crazed as he was, he knew he can’t stay stay where he is. He knew he had to run. And it is not what he wanted for he wanted more. His gun still screamed for blood, his eyes were still filled with bloodlust.

But he had to run, he had to; the noise of the blaring siren is starting to get louder and clearer. North! He ran forward without any idea where he was headed. Then, it was too late when he realized that he was headed for the beach. He knew he had to change his direction because there is no way that the beach can give him cover. Without thinking, he started to head west.

He was able to take a few steps before when paranoia started to creep around him. The sirens were already too loud now. The police has to be so close to him already.

South. Paranoia has almost enveloped him when he realized that the sounds of the sirens had stopped. Before relief could flood through him, his heart started racing. It could only mean that the force have gone on foot to search for him.

He couldn’t fathom why he haven’t heard any gunshot but the adrenaline that was surging in his system pushed him forward. He didn’t want to look back for he didn’t want to to feel any more fear. But not looking back didn’t do him any good for more paranoia crept through him. He started losing focus, his eyes darting everywhere, searching for any sign of his adversaries.

He has started to wonder if it was just his paranoia which made him think that he was being pursued when he suddenly heard movements in the middle of all the green.

This revelation made the murderer even more frantic. He saw a tiny, insignificant hut a few yards away from him. He still had the distance but instinct told him to take cover.

He moved even faster, his mind only thinking about the cover that was in front of him. Before he locked himself up in the hut, he fired one more shot, not knowing whether or not he will hit anyone.

A thought suddenly occurred to him but it was too late; he had made a huge mistake – he had given himself away.

Suddenly, the movements grew closer. He then knew that there were more of them that he thought. The movements even grew closer and closer and soon they were closing in on him. He was being surrounded.

A few moments passed when he took a peek. And his fears were confirmed. Outside, a few blue-clad men surrounded his hut. Then, they started talking – shouting.

The police was trying to make him surrender. They were trying to talk him into giving up his post, talking about things that he knew were only for the purpose of his surrender. He knew how these things went – these men will only tell you what they think you want to hear but they will never fulfill those things.

Then, silence. He thought they had become tired of yelling.

Once again, the pleading.

Then, it became a cycle. However, he thought he knew why these men haven’t tried to enter his hut – they don’t want to risk any more lives.

He never tried to answer the pleas of the men surrounding his cover.

More silence. This time it was longer than the usual. But he heard movements, they’re moving closer and closer.

Then, all became silent. The men were no longer moving. He didn’t know what to do anymore. The silence stretched on, gradually becoming deafening to the man.

In a final act of desperation, he put the muzzle at the right side of his head, screamed, then, pulled the trigger.

Guns, III Loaded Gun

The man didn’t take time to observe his brother. He knew what he wanted. He knew where he was headed next. As soon as his brother fell on the floor – limp – he darted for the door, only thinking about his next target.

Yet the blast did not allow the event to be unnoticed. It alerted the unwary neighbors and made them curious; curious and scared.

One of them pulled together enough guts to check on the abandoned house. Though he already knew what would welcome him, the sight of the bloody man still surprised him. Dead people have never been his favorite sight.

But something made him rethink his assessment.

The fingers of the bloody man started twitching. Then, his mouth started moving in an attempt to convey a message.

The bloody man started pleading to the curious neighbor. But, much to the surprised of the neighbor, the bloody man was not pleading for his own life to be saved. He was desperately pleading for his brother to be stopped because he knew that he won’t be the last victim.

Still, the neighbor opted to do the safer action and chose to leave the house to find a phone, He shakily dialed a number, gave his instructions, and went back to the scene. He’d rather wait than risk his life trying to stop a crazed murderer.

The murderer kept running. Darting past curious eyes. Frantic. Frenzied. Still looking for his next target.

Then, he stopped. He had found the exact place where his next target should be. He didn’t even bother to knock on the door. He went straight to the house and realized that his assumption was correct.

His next victim was still lounging in front of his TV – still unknowing, or uncaring, of the events that occurred but a few moments ago.

But the sudden entrance of the murderer has alerted the careless man. However, he did nothing but sit up and stare towards his door.

Until he realized that his uninvited guest had a weapon in his hand. It all started dawning on him. The gunshot. And that moment, he feared that the next bullet was for him.

The murderer didn’t plan on spending his time with this man. All he did was raise his gun, and pull the trigger.

The moment he heard the blast, he felt like it was music – a perfect ensemble. And the scent! Oh, the scent of blood! He knew he wanted more. And, like his brother, he didn’t take his time to observe his victim.

He left the house with one bullet less in his weapon, one less person in his list, and the hunger for more.

The murderer knew where her next victim would be – she’d be about four blocks away. He hoped that the woman was as uncaring as the man he’d left had been.

True enough, he arrived at his next victim’s house with the woman absently going through her laundry.

This made the murderer grin – in a very sinister way. It had never occurred to him that getting what he wanted would be so easy. His brother has tried, but failed – failed miserably.

This time, he didn’t have a man to struggle against or a door to force open. This time, all he had to do was aim his weapon and pull the trigger.

Before the woman even realized his presence, she was already falling to the ground from the force of the bullet.

Guns, II First Blood

The man ran back to his home – his sanctuary. The only place where no one stares at him, no one condemns him. The only place where he can have his few moments of peace.

However, that day, he didn’t go back there to find his peace. He was looking for something. He scoured through all the elements of the current mess of his existence.

After a few minutes of searching, he found what he was looking for: a loaded gun that he has been keeping forever. He did not have the slightest idea what he was keeping it for. But at that time, right in that moment when he held the gun in his hands, eyes locked on it, breathing heavily, he felt like it was all starting to make sense.

Soon as he regained his breath, he darted for the door. But just when he reached for it, it opened with his unknowing brother smiling at him.

But a few moments had passed when his brother’s expression drastically changed. The brother suddenly stood frozen and wide-eyed when he realized what the man held in his hand.

Silence followed the realization. It gradually became deafening to the man that his mind even got more crazed. He slowly raised his gun hand, once again uncertain. However, his brother saw the slight movement in his hand.

His brother quickly dashed forward, aiming for the gun. The struggle ensued. His brother was much too strong for him. However, at the moment he decided to find his weapon, he has already told himself that he will never be once again powerless.

He tried his hardest to maneuver himself out of his brother’s strong grasp and was successful. As soon as he faced his brother, he pulled the trigger.

The sound of the blast echoed around the four walls of the empty house. The bullet pierced his brother’s chest. Blood spattered across his face.

Thus, the first blood is shed. And the man has become a murderer.

Guns, I Unpinnned Grenade

The day started for him as it normally does. Earlier that day, he was awakened by the rooster’s crow. Dark gray clouds hung in the sky above him making the morning feel like twilight.

Try as he may, he knew he was powerless against the fate that has brought him here. A fate that has given him all the difficulties he has to face and all the muddled thoughts that swirl in his head.

He took off into the day uncertain, feeling like there is an unpinned grenade in his hand, waiting to be released. But he was hoping he will be able to contain it. He didn’t want to let it go.

The day started to feel uneventful. However, before the sun reached its zenith, an element of the past crossed his path.

And so the fateful day begins.

The visitor was an unwelcome guest. He knew it. He had tired to avoid such encounters. But the visitor was persistent. A discord ensued. The man was once again powerless. And the grenade was let go.

Thus, it explodes.