Saturday, February 04, 2006

Random thoughts on a stampede

I work in Ortigas and go home to Manila, which means I pass by Ultra everyday on my way home. Since Wednesday this week, traffic in the area has started to get unusually slow as a growing number of people have started to camp out in the sidewalks around Ultra. I actually meant to write about it in this blog. I also caught Willie Revillame on TV once enticing more and more people to go to Ultra and promising all kinds of rewards. In his words "rather than stay home and do nothing, you are better off at Ultra where you have the chance to win a million pesos, taxis, and tricycles." I guess that pretty much summed up why thousands went.

Didn't any one see this coming?

The ABS-CBN executives and broadcasters kept on repeating that "this was an incident that nobody wanted to happen." Of course. Who doesn't know that? But what exactly did they do to make sure that what happened would not happen? They enticed people to dance with death.

In fairness, however, I do think that their handling of the crisis has been quite admirable beginning with the visibility of most of their top guns at the site of the crisis. And I applaud them for taking full responsibility for the tragedy. About time someone did something like that in this country where leaders make a career of washing their hands in public.

I can see lots of fingerpointing and pompous posturing coming in the next few weeks. I am sure politicians and sectors of the media are now salivating at the prospect of being able to foist their self-serving dissertations on the general public.

And then afterwards, when the hysteria has died down and something else has caught the public's attention, it will be business as usual.

Television shows will once again do anything and everything for the sake of ratings. Ordinary people will once again be treated like dumb driven cattle being herded to produce the biggest ever audience at an extravaganza. And when tragedy strikes, they will be blamed for having the get-rich-quick mentality, for their desperation and for their hunger.

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