It was any ordinary day for me and I was doing some construction work around the house. I’ve been constructing a hundred square-foot annex to my house that I intend to make into a small, neighborhood internet café. I’ve been on it for a month now, working solo for the fun and, of course, for the economics of it.
Like I said somewhere, my TV is always open people are watching or not. This time there was wife and daughter glued in there as I went inside the house. It was around lunch time and I was feeling hungry to make me peek what’s cooking. The housewife was done cooking alright, but the table was not set. Damn those Korean tele-novelas with Pilipino dubbing that many women have been addicted to!
But, no, it was not any soap opera. It was Erwin Tulfo in TV 5 who was unusually out from his Tutok program that instantly caught my attention. He was covering live at the Quirino Grandstand with a tourist bus for his background.
So, it’s all about some tourists being held hostage by one boryong ex-police Captain who wanted some attention… Oh, he’ll get what he wants, he’ll be releasing everybody, and everything will be fine in the end. It could not be real hot stuff like shown in the face and tone of Mr. Tulfo. It must be another of those sensational TV reportings, and…I am hungry and I have many better things to do.
I carried my lunch to the TV set, eating alone. The housewife was in her occasional mood of ‘my time is done, whoever is hungry just go get it’… Getting real and more insights of the drama are worth the while, but…I have many other better things to do.
Mid afternoon came and there was rain. In fact it was raining intermittently all day. I guess I was feeling spent for the day that made me notice the rain from a leaking structure whose roof was not done with flashing yet… Maybe I should be playing games in my computer… Oh, it’s still Mr. Tulfo and the tourist bus out there when I went inside the house. Are not they done and over yet?
Command & Conquer [Tm] Generals by Electronic Arts is an old game that I’ve installed recently. I’m new to the game actually. I remember when beating Easy opponent was hard. Today, beating a brutal opponent has become equally boring as with the easy ones. Defeating two or more brutes has kept my interest in the game alive.
EA is the company that created Red Alert and Yuri’s Revenge. They are purely statistical-logistical economics and warfare, contests of strength and wit, unlike Battle Realms and Stronghold Crusader that are with social components, if you have not tried them all. EA is also creator of Speed.
What are old like me doing with computer games? Well, for me its one good way of unwinding. Games can be relaxing.
My PC and my TV are still located exactly where I have described them, somewhere here, before. I have learned to live with both just fine, focusing at any or both at any time. Like, there are times when I have to pause at the PC to see what is in the TV. Maybe it is the tones, some words or phrases in TV that automatically shift my focus of attention.
They’re firing! They’re firing! [Or, was it They’re shooting! They’re shooting! I don’t exactly remember.]… So, this hostage drama is serious than I thought…I decided to pause the game. And later it looked to me like I would be watching for long so I decided to exit and shut down. I noticed it was already way in the evening.
Here is the 12-hour action as they registered in me:
o Mr. Erwin Tulfo in clean white polo shirt reporting things as they get to him, with the hijacked tourist bus behind him, most of the time I made a look at the TV.
o Mr. Tulfo announcing that two persons were approaching the bus and when I turned to look the camera was focused at him, or was it at the bus, but no two persons that he was talking about. [One of them turned out to be a brother of the hostage-taker.]
o One unmindful mongrel walking leisurely in the foreground, between the TV camera and the hijacked bus. I guess in a seemingly still scene it was the only thing that moved. Or maybe it is that picture speaks more than all words put to [them] why I was focused at what I was seeing and lesser at what I was hearing. I was actually wondering whether or not it was any of those SWAT dogs that might have been set loose or wandering alone.
o SWAT’s many unsuccessful attempts to bash open the rear and front shields of the tourist bus with a sledge hammer. [Which made me think that maybe construction workers could have hacked better. Or, maybe next time it came to that, they should bring in a forklift to turn a bus on its side that will expose all, hostage-taker and hostages alike, to view. It will also be easy bashing of front and rear wind shields for forcible assault. I got that from a bus accident I had experienced as a teen.]
o SWAT tying a rope to the bus door in an apparent move to forcibly open it. [I had bet it won’t work because bus doors are designed to swing in and not throw everyone out…But wait, good, it might topple the bus on its side… tossed and broken survivors are better than dead hostages. ] The door did not open and the bus did not topple. But, maybe they should include tying Knots and Hitches, like those taught to seamen and some construction workers, in SWAT courses.
o Before or after all that, a man in white was running as he was yelling, away from the bus, and on to safety. [He turned out to be the bus driver who has escaped through the windows in the left side of the bus.]
o When everybody seemed discouraged at bashing away the glass shields, some SWAT swung open the emergency exit door of the bus like it was no sweat! After about an hour of frustrating attempts, why has not anybody thought of it before? I have not, either. I remembered seating next to that door many times as a commuter, have memorized and figured out the printed instructions, in fact, just in case.
o As the bus was gassed to flush out gunman [and hostages alike], people in their homes were focused at the open emergency exit door where anybody is expected to jump out anytime. Next thing viewers saw at the front end of the bus, was the hostage-taker already lumped dead, halfway through the glass door-window that SWAT had broken earlier.
o I think the biggest climax to all viewers is when two tourists, what appeared to me a female then a male, managed to pop out of the emergency exit by their own capacity. Before all that was a feeling of total carnage inside the bus. May buhay! There are survivors! It really brought some chorus of Ohs, Ahs and Ay, salamat from viewers. I noticed some neighbors in my company. They just come and go without hi and without any good bye; no need for them to knock, too, since my front door is usually open most of the time. We are like that since I can remember. Yes, my sala is sort of a public area to some regular neighbors or their kids.
o But Shits! There was this mass, a throng, out of nowhere, and the bus at the Grandstand cannot be seen anymore! I feel like I was watching people at the end of a ball game or at the end of a boxing fight. Iba talaga ang mga Filipino.
o Last scene I remember is a lonely bus seating under a heavy downpour, I don’t remember seeing anybody moving in or around it… maybe it was the rain, or maybe it was time for bed. But, no, I did not readily sleep that night.
I tried to imagine myself as the hostage taker. It was impossible. I could not. I cant imagine any situation like that.
Next, I tried to imagine myself as the brother of the hostage-taker [who is also reported as a cop]. I saw myself approaching the bus like it was a pure family affair. Somebody tried to stop me. I insisted to be let in the police line. Maybe a media reporter got a quick interview of me “Sir, are you here to save the hostages?” “Hell, no. I’m here to save my brother from sure death! Because if I don’t talk him out of this, soon SWAT will be storming the bus, he is armed and dangerous and he is finished!”
And then I put myself in the shoes of the theater commander. “Who is that fool that tried to cross the police line?” “He is a brother of the hostage taker, Sir, a fellow cop.” “Just my lucky day. Bring that arrogant nicely in here. I think we have someone who can talk sense, talk point-blank, and talk best to Captain Mendoza out of all these. This must be my lucky day! ”
I guess imagining things is easy. Reality showed everything and everybody wasted.