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  WITNESS

Senseless Deaths, Double Major and Identity Theft


by Arnold De Villa

Aug 27, 2010

Not a single issue in this title is connected to another. They are isolated events that have filled up the blogosphere, the boob tube, the gossip parlors and the social networking sites among Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. No need to mention names. Caricatures are enough. Scene one: a bus in the midst of an open space filled with Chinese tourists and a lone gunman inside keeping the passengers hostage, aggrieved for allegedly losing his long time public service job. Radio interviews are heard in the background. Scene two: a family member of the hostage keeper was being manhandled by cops for no apparent reason. It was as if he was being arrested without any declaration of a crime committed. He was shown on television as part of breaking news and of course shown on the television inside the bus where the hostage keeper was watching everything.

Scene three: gunfire, cries for help, cops trying to enter the bus through different doors, people running under cover, hostages being allowed to run away from the bus, total mayhem, death. Scene four: At least eight people died. The gunman died too. The post scenario was treated like a reckless fanfare with some cops posing in front of a bullet ridden tourist bus for pixeled souvenirs.

Dismay and apologies were demanded from the cops who managed a mismanaged tragedy without exactly knowing who was accountable to who and who could be beheaded for the failure to secure a safe hostage negotiation. Dismay and public apologies were also demanded from the management of the press who allowed the coverage of an irrational arrest that could have been the catalyst of senseless deaths. The scene goes on.

Tuesday evening – so many television sets were synchronized to watch another Miss Universe beauty pageant show. Filipinos around the world wanted to witness a half Filipina representing the Philippines for the title. Comments purveyed sentiments for her victory, empathizing with a background of having been raised in poverty by a single mother. Many predicted her victory. Many aspired for her crown…until she spoke… and the crown was gone. She won the last among the top.

News anchors from different major network gave her some air time. They focused on her last interview question, the one about what her major mistake was, and what she did about it. Her response was blatantly cheerful, tragically flawed. Without saying much, she just did her major mistake. She vehemently declared that she had no major mistake, no major major fault. Life moved on. A friend from a popular social networking site sent me a note asking why I am inviting her to be a friend again. She thought it was a scam. It was worse. There happened to be an impersonator using my own name and my own picture as his own profile, even indicating that he lived in the same town where I live, and then sporadically inviting my friends to be his friends the second time. Since all those people were being added by an entity who decided to use my name and my photographs, more than seventy of my friends accepted him without much ado. Although it felt weird, I checked him out myself. Lo and behold, everything that he said was allegations and insults against me claiming outrageous mendacities and thwarted fabrications! He was suppressed on time, reported repeatedly and then he disappeared.

Too late for him. Someone got his ISP (Internet Service Protocol) and forwarded it to local authorities who are probably knocking at his door at this very moment. Lastly, it is the beginning of a new school year and almost the end of a warm, lurid, mosquito- infested summer. Events transpired. We laughed. We lived. And some people died. We could have hoped that things would have been different. We could have coached another person for that change of fate. We should have known that even a trusted person could be a villain and stab us from behind. We could have, but we did not. We should have, yet we were not able to. We wished, but it is too late.

Many circumstances around the world transpire without the permission of even the most powerful human authority. Many events take place without a single blueprint of origin and end. And many of us will never know what to or how to respond. We blink and it is done.

The cop who involved innocent Chinese tourists thought that he could attract the attention of the public and force people to listen to his plea. His grievances could be true, his reasons may be valid from his point of view, but the killing of innocent lives can never be justified even in war. Our beauty bet could have probably won if only someone told her that substance is more important than form, that understanding the question in a brief moment of silence is much useful than a preppy claim for public empathy, and that only God does not commit any mistakes.

My impersonator could either be suffering from identity crises, not courageous enough to wear his own face, or wantonly quixotic to attack someone with the same name and face he is trying to put on. He did not last long. The moment the majority of my friends he invited saw what he was up to, (trying to set me up against my own self), he was reported without delay. Between a significant event and a not so significant happening, we have human critters lurching in the background, reading without speaking and viewing without talking. They too are part of our emerging humanity, elements of this new cultural dimension. Nowadays, it is safe to conclude that the most effective and useful gizmos are those involved in heightened acts of communication and those that offer various forms of entertainment. The social network is not always social. People who become friends are actually already from the same lineage. They do not need to know each other more besides wanting to know how they know each other now. People who do not become friends are probably delaying the option of being one.

Senseless death, a double major and an identity theft were the markers for my week. Around it I heard debacles spoken by a hand that scratched its head. In front of the major beauty, eyes gawked until audio took over, mouths gapped. And then my evil clone, or dark shadow, or a suffering soul in need of attention. I feel sorry he did not last long. Too bad I cannot write longer…..to be continued….



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