Filipinos have no right to move on from the Mendoza hostage crisis

In the aftermath of the August 23 Mendoza hostage massacre that resulted in the deaths of eight foreign tourists, Filipinos had plumbed new depths of collective shame as a people. The on-going investigations notwithstanding, the drama revealed to the world in living colour (courtesy of the greed and ill breeding of the men and women of the Philippine Media) made one thing tragically clear to all: like many other catastrophes that claimed lives in the Philippines this is one that could have been avoided.

Captain Needa

In a comment posted in his own article in (response to a comment of mine) on his, blogger Ben Kritz laid out a three-point framework for guiding the kind of “healing” exercise that we hope would involve the sort of reflection and introspection that have so far failed to take hold within the collective sensibilities of our people (my boldface/italics for emphasis below).

The failures in the Philippines crystallized and went on world-wide display when Mendoza boarded that bus. The way the President, his government, and the police handled it — failure of management institutions. The way the media handled it — failure of cultural institutions. The way the public handled it (yes, I’m talking about you, stupid picture-taking girls) — failure of society.

Management, culture, and society. These are the three pillars that prop up our collective dignity and viability as a free and independent people. And all of them failed catastrophically on that faithful day in August 23. More than any tragedy that adds to the weight of the shame that bears down on the Philippines, an effort to change our societal DNA along those three pillars is something we owe ourselves. To marshal the resolve to see this effort through from within will be indicative of whether or not we as a people still see the point in being a country.

For me, therefore, the most disturbing message to emerge from the din of Filipinos’ teeth-gnashing and breast-beating expressed in blog posts, newspaper columns, “status updates” and other mass communication channels is this bizarre call to “move on”.

Yes. Move on.

We do need to do that at some point. After all, as columnist William Esposo pompously points out

The fact is our government and people have more than undertaken enough to express our collective regret and apology over the hostage tragedy. The fact is President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) has more than bent over backwards to try to ease the pain of the Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong where most of the fatalities came from. The fact is that there is a multi-agency probe underway and there is no attempt to cover up for anybody.

In short, it seems to me that Esposo, by virtue of these rectification measures he cited that he thinks are “enough”, would like all parties to move on.

To be fair to us Filipinos, we are in fact trying to make amends by doing those things. Pointing out the specifics of what we are doing to make amends is part of an effort to assure the victims of our collective failure that we are serious in our efforts.

But here’s the thing:

The call to “move on” is not ours to make.

While we can express our remorse, apologise profusely, and identify culpability amongst our lot — i.e., undertake all the necessary acts of contrition and rectification decency dictates — we cannot presume to prescribe how the victims ought to feel about the measures we take to appease them.

Our resolve to see these rectification measures through should not be premised on how the victims respond to or feel about them.

The people of Hong Kong are within their rights to decide how they would like to feel about what we Filipinos are currently doing to make amends for our failure. If, when, and how to move on is also a prerogative that is entirely theirs.

Perhaps we can look to the genius in the vast script of the Star Wars trilogy for some guidance on how we should regard our place in the scheme of things as far as our relationship with Hong Kong goes.

After failing to capture the Millenium Falcon in its escape from the Hoth system in the excellent film The Empire Strikes Back, the officer in charge of the operation Captain Needa, ashen faced, issued the order…

Get a shuttle ready. I shall assume full responsibility for losing them, and apologize to Lord Vader.”

The next scene is a classic where the following famous words are uttered by Darth Vader…

Apology accepted, Captain Needa

… right after Needa falls to the floor dead, as a result of a telekinetic throttling applied to his throat by Vader using The Force.


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53 Responses to Filipinos have no right to move on from the Mendoza hostage crisis

  1. Expat from TW says:

    Never ending stupid…

    Crisis body abandoned crisis, Isko Moreno tells probers

    Speaking in a mix of English and Filipino, Moreno said: “What I know was when the mayor [Alfredo Lim] left, I left also…When I stepped out [of the command center in Rizal Park] I saw the [Special Action Force] and others in [assault] uniform…I wished them luck and told them to be careful.

    “Then I went to the Manila Pavilion [hotel] and I looked for a television set. I asked for coffee from the bartender and told him to switch the channel to ANC. That’s when I saw that there were gunshots already.”

    “Who were left at the command post?” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the IIRC chair, said.

    “I presumed all the [police] generals were there,” Moreno said.

    >I wished them luck and told them to be careful.
    This is their skill. To wish luck.

    • Expat from TW says:

      Speaking of the SW, did you know this?


      >it’s okay.. the sound may not be good, but we know we have the most beautiful language.. ^^
      I’m so tired of this everywhere…

    • Hyden Toro says:

      “You presumed?”; that means you were not fully knowledgeable in what took place. You were there in body, but was not there with your full awareness of your mind…The Idiot should be fired; like his Boss 😦

    • Pinoy Aho says:

      >Then I went to the Manila Pavilion [hotel]
      How can he go to such a hotel for his lunch or coffee almost everyday by his salary? How can he get money besides his salary?
      Wake up Philippines!

  2. Mike H says:

    Uyyyyy, tama na iyan, move-on na, sabi nina Lacierda at Coloma.

    Nag –no wang-Wang!! na “I take full responsibility!!!”” na si Presidente Noynoy maski wala naman siyang ginawa, ano pa ba naman ang gusto ninyo, eh hindi pa ba tama na iyon?!!!

    At do not forget, “clear mandate”!!! So iyong mga pro-Villar at ang pro-Gordon at pro-Jamby, ku-wayet kayo, ang puwede lang mangutya ay ang mga pro-Noynoy Yellow Army lamang dahil sila lang ang walang secret agenda.

    Palace: Aquino won’t quit 😆 By Norman Bordadora
    Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 00:20:00 09/05/2010
    MANILA, Philippines— ➡ President Benigno Aquino??? He will not resign, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Friday.

    Coloma also said Mr. Aquino’s remark did not mean the officials involved in the failed hostage rescue had been 🙄 cleared of accountability.

    “He will not resign because he received a clear mandate … from more than 15 million Filipinos and he will serve this mandate,” Coloma said over state-run radio dzRB. “He will complete the six-year term as President.”

    • BenK says:

      That they even think they have to acknowledge the concept of N/A resigning, barely two months into his term, is as sure a sign as if it was etched in stone that his and his Administration’s belief in the propriety of their being in Malacanang is pretty shaky. As far as I know, no one’s even really come right out and publicly said, “Noynoy resign!”

      So does he know something we don’t? My guess is: Yes he does. So big a doofus as he is, you should probably be thinking about ways to keep him, at least for as long as it takes to get Charter Change done — as big a doofus as he is, he’s a hell of a lot better than the available alternative right now.

      • Mike H says:

        Agree…. no one (not Walden 🙄 Bello nor Lila Shahani, not Edcel Laman nor Randy David, not even Imelda 8) Marcos nor Jinggoy Estrada) no one has uttered “Noynoy Talsik Diyan!!!!” Definitely, Binay is very quiet — no way 💡 Binay will shout “Noynoy, resign ka na!!!”

      • Aegis-Judex says:

        Nah, the Jejemon’s just biding his time, waiting for the Aquino Deathblow to take over. Classic Madara Uchiha gambit, going behind the scenes and taking decisive action when it suits him.

      • ilda says:

        Baka nabasa nila yung last blog ko where I said he should resign 🙂

        I have been sharing it in their Kurot-kurot website and their FB fanpage, hehe.

    • ChinoF says:

      Three-headed monster’s still full of idiots. The clear mandate is not only a stupid mandate… that’s not the right reason for him not to resign. Well, maybe they can’t admit the real reason why the Prez can’t resign now… as BenK above explained. But they sure think up the worst excuses.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      The Power resides in the people. The people are his employer. The Election is not written in Stone. Once, he does not perform his job appropraitely. The people has all the Rights to remove any Leader…History has shown many fallen leaders, along its path. These Leaders were thought to be powerful. Yet; they fell…

    • No one’s really itching for President Aquino to resign. He was rabid for it so why can’t we allow him to pay for the consequences of his addiction for power?

  3. To move on is just another way of telling us to stop criticizing them because they can not stand it anymore.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      The imbecile cannot take it? Why did he run for President, anyway?This is part of his job. To be ROASTED by his people. Especially, if he is negligent of his duties. This is the reason: he allied himself with the Oligarchs’ Media? To sing Praises on Him? Or, he placed Psuedo BlogSites, and Psuedo Bloggers, in the Blog Sites? To be his Cheering Squads? He deserves what he is taking…we will continue commenting until it will penetrate his Thick Skull…

    • potaters says:

      “To move on.” is another misguided notion that the government and some Filipinos want to propagate in order to get rid of the “negativity”. Buti sana kung mag-move on pero may resolution, subalit wala. Issues, more often than not, are swept under the rug because our processes are SO FRAKKIN’ SLOW. A lawyer I know has mentioned that there are a few courthouses in our country that’s why the dockets are horrifically clogged.

      If the HK government wants to push us and ipamukha na incompetent ang mga pulis, I have no problem with that kasi incompetent naman talaga!

  4. Pingback: The Aquino Administration’s $400 million Bonehead Maneuver

  5. anonymous bosch says:

    I somehow understand that we need to move on. Ultimately we must let go of that event. Past is past. But before we, the Filipino people, could go to that stage, we must put the situation to a closure and learn all the important lessons that it presented to us. We cannot move on with so many questions yet unanswered.

    • ChinoF says:

      If we move on, we must not forget. I guess you mean that too. If we forget the event, and the lessons… then it means we don’t want to improve. Period.

      • Jay says:

        That is one of the big reasons why its hard to move on due to lack of closure. It would have been MUCH EASIER if the president and the admins understood the importance of diplomacy. No one owned up on accountability, even for the sake of looking weak but being humble at the same time. At least then everyone on both sides can admit justice was served.

  6. Mary says:

    We can only tell ourselves to “(learn and)move on” and we do need to learn and move on, but we have absolutely no right to tell HK nationals that. I hate that “move on” phrase when it’s coupled with this incident. It’s as if we can reduce the gravity of our failures by apologizing and “God” will bless us because we are sorry and we can forget about it. Heh, it must be nice to live in such a fantaserye world.

    Quality writing, Benig. I disagree with the title, but YES to everything else you’ve written.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      After, the incompetent and coward President has commited a stupid mistake. He tells us: MOVE ON. How do you feel, if your incompetent Employee; messes up with his job. Then, your incompetent employee, tells you to: MOVE ON? Without fully explaining; why he performed his job in unacceptable manner? Can you see the reasoning and thinking of this BlockHead? 😳

      • geeky Mary says:

        PNOY already showed his quality so I’m not surprised if he’s collecting blunders left and right. That and schadenfreude. (I’m trying to keep my anger sekrret since some of my friends and relatives voted for this retard bc of winnability). It’s not my opinion that we should sweep this under the rug and forget all about it. Rather, I want teh learning to happen especially to THEM yellow supportards who are pinning the blame on everybody else except for their St. Noynoy. Some of them have woken up. LOL It took THIS to wake them up. It will take another major major disaster to wake the rest. Sad. 

  7. mihael keele says:

    Seems that the FAILipinos’ idea of moving on is acquiring selective amnesia.

    Didn’t we “move on” with Martial Law and Erap? Look where it got us— not back to square one, but in even deeper sh*t.

    • Jay says:

      It seems that has always been the Pinoy way of moving on, with no real closure, no real justice and what not. Just remember the date, the deaths, the media/political significance and get on with your reality. Biggest proof is Ninoy’s death. Don’t think of the implications, the assassin, the reasons but just that stupid quote of his The Filipino is worthy dying for.

  8. Hyden Toro says:

    While the Article has some Star War Drama. It is a fictionalized story, whereby The Force is powerful. It does not tolerate Stupidity, like the Filipinos. We have tolerated Stupidity, for so long already. We accepted leaders who: deceive us; steal from us; are personally dishonest; greedy, together with their familiy; etc…It may be the Psche we acquired for having 300 years of Spanish Colonization. If a leader is supported by the Church: we accept him or her without question. It’s time to wake up. May this tragic Hostage Incident; be the Wake Up Call for all of Filipinos. That, they have a CHOICE. That they must not ACCEPT what is thrown to them by these people, who are Deceivers. That, they have the FULL RIGHT to remove an unacceptable leader. Even, if he is duly elected. The Filipino people are the True Power. Not them. We had proven this, by overtrowing Marcos. We can do the same with any President; not fitted to the office… 😛

    • Anonylol says:

      I think the point was that Captain Needa had the sense of responsibility to own up to his failure and not make any excuses even if it meant certain death.

      I don’t think Lord Vader would have been amused if the captain asked for everyone to “move on”

    • NotMasochisticFilipino says:

      as much as I hate to accept it, P-Noy will STILL be able to finish his term (6 years), just like his mom despite this blunder and more succeeding blunders probably similar to this one.

      They will never learn the real meaning of moving on.

  9. Gardo Versausage says:

    Move on…..yeah!

    Let’s all forget the past, so that we’re condemned to repeat it.

    Just like ol’ times! 😉

  10. frustratedcitizen says:

    move on? huh? another desperate attempt to stop the criticisms that are coming in since the 8/23 event… just goes to show that the prez and his allies can dish out so much to their ‘enemies’ but are not able to withstand incoming fire. haha

    the prez’s allies are telling us that the prez won’t resign because he was elected? it was the people who placed him in power in the first place. he even claimed that the people are his boss, thus his employer. so that in turn will give the people, as it has always been, the power to remove any unrightful leader from the throne.

    good with the SW insert here sir benign0…again, its a very informative article..nice

  11. Aegis-Judex says:

    This is where I will have to disagree, though not in toto; We need only to learn from our mistakes, not dwell on them. Only then can we move on.

    Sadly, we know this is most likely NOT the case with the average Flip.

    • ralliart1to3 says:

      The Philippine society has bypassed ALPHA PHASE (a.k.a. Learn from the mistake) and has jumped to BETA PHASE (a.k.a. Move on) by deflating the or bashing the Chinese with unrelated artifacts, or claiming to be a victim of “unjustifiable” Chinese fury. How awkward it is that this society tells itself to “move on” if the aggrieved party has not completely or even started to “move on” in the first place?

      • Aegis-Judex says:

        Such is the sad reality of the Flip society. We claim to be devout (insert religion here), but when push comes to shove, we cave in and escape, if not pervet the ethos of our creed/s altogether.

  12. Anonylol says:

    Vote Imperial on 2016!

  13. palebluedot_ says:

    sheeesh you guys are so blind (or deaf?). didn’t you listen to the kapari-an at church? didn’t you realize yet that padre damaso’s cohorts are self-professed national wound healers? fyi, every eucharistic celebrations, they, together with the community, pray for the forgiveness of wrongdoings of those who were part of the drama (listen to the prayers of the faithful, it’s included already), and voila! everybody should move on! in other words, ASK FORGIVENESS & FORGET!

    try discussing to them (i’ve done it with madres & padres & church beatas) about the hostage issue (the way we discuss in AP) and they arrogantly tell you that you have no faith in God. just pray for those who have offended the dead HK tourists lang daw, and zip your mouth…God is justice…Ba(t)hala na!!! 👿

    • Jay says:

      what church and specific religion?

      LOL no faith in God. Maybe no faith in themselves and their own humility.

    • Try telling that to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who joked at the recent hearing about how he thought the hostage crisis would drag till the next day that’s why he had to eat dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant to which the press and the media laughed. What audacity to laugh and prescribe moving on! The blood-stained extra baggage will hold anyone who will attempt to move on.

  14. ice_queen says:

    I totally agree. I don’t think the Phils., especially those in government, is in any (socially acceptable) position to tell everyone, including the world-at-large, to move on. And to have said it in less than 3 weeks’ time after the incident only makes a terrible thing worse.

    Yes, moving on will happen. It’s inevitable. But to harp and gripe about it at this time only makes those who say it look like petulant brats who proffered insincere apologies for something wrong they were responsible for.

    It’s one thing to be savvy in political and diplomatic protocol. But knowing NOT to say “move on” at this point in time only requires a healthy amount of emotional quotient (EQ).

    Or is that again asking too much from these people? 

  15. Jett Rink says:

    it’s like “mukhang goodtime” (pinoys) telling “mukhang pera” (hongkongers) to go back to what each value most, which they assume for hkers is “always about making money” and none of those humanity-sh*t like grief and catharsis, so that pinoys can forget about this also and go back to “always looking for a good time”and none of those humanity-sh*t like grief, remorse, and catharsis. that’s my take on this “move-on” adage being peddled by penoy and his boys.

    • ChinoF says:

      “HKer as mukhang pera” sure sounds like the kinds of propaganda idiot Filipinos make about foreigners. Another way of saying foreigners are evil and Filipinos are not, when the opposite has actually happened in the hostage crisis. This is the kind of self-righteousness that Jesus had blamed the Pharisees for.

  16. It is also interesting to note that George Lucas patterned Star Wars after the principles of the modern thinker and author Joseph Campbell who discussed in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces the idea that myths from all over the world seem to be built from the same “elementary ideas.” It elaborates on the principle that everyone in the world is born with the same basic subconscious model of what a “hero” is, or a “mentor” or a “quest,” and that’s why people who don’t even speak the same language can enjoy the same stories. This brings me to understand how Hong Kong, like most of us here, reacted to the 3-fold failure that you discussed here.

  17. innagadda54 says:

    The former Baby James : “I’ll not leave you here. I’ve got to save you.”
    The resigned Noynoy : “You already have.”

    cue the Imperial March played on a mandolin about 3 octaves higher.

  18. kill_em says:

    just move on… its been almost 3 weeks already.. the incident had already been analyze for the nth time already…theres nothing left to do but improve the police capability and move on….

    • benign0 says:

      @ killem: Depends what you mean by “move on”. President Noynoy apparently has his own idea of what it means to “move on”…

      Hostage tragedy “laughable” in 2-3 years’ time — Noynoy

      According to Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the problems the country faces in the aftermath of the Aug. 23 bloodbath that killed eight Hong Kong tourists are things that we can simply laugh about in two to three years time. Furthermore, he added that we will be able to recall by then that these were “not that grave”.

      Full story! 😀

      • potaters says:

        Is that really needed to be said? “Laughable”? Even if he is not referring to the hostage tragedy per se, that really does not make any sense unless he intentionally wants to shoot himself in the foot. It just shows how flippant he is. 😦

    • ChinoF says:

      Rather than move on, let’s move… move to change our culture and improve our country’s situation to avoid things like the hostage fiasco. Way to do this is remove protectionism and cha-cha.

  19. ako ang simula ng pagtatago says:

    tama. Move on na lang. Saka natin tawanan after 2-3 years ang LAUGHABLE situation na ito. Sabi ni pnoy.


  20. mihael keele says:

    Tama si PeNoy. Move on na daw… to greater heights of stupidity and callousness.  👿

    On a personal note, I have to find a way to “move on” from the disastrous results of the last elections because I suffer mini seizures every single time I take the MRT with hordes of undisciplined commuters and see Kris Aquino’s face plastered in billboards all over EDSA.  😡

  21. helios says:

    i think the more appropriate question to ask the Filipinos is… move on to what exactly? to the 2011 Ms. Universe pageant? 

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