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Feb 06

Sackcloth and ashes

The papers continue their reports on the Wowowee tragedy:

Stampede probers find lapses in security setup; Gonzalez: Someone will answer for 74 deaths (Inquirer)

No unified plan to handle Ultra crowd (Manila Times)
Stampede probers summon TV execs (Standard-Today)

Just a little hope, not greed, lured old women to gate of death (Business Mirror)

RG Cruz gives a first hand account of what it was like to cover the tragedy as part of the ABS-CBN network; Jove Francisco gives an account of what it was like among media people when the news broke. These behind the scenes entries provide, once more, a valuable window into media behavior for the public.

The various papers kick in with their editorial take on the stampede, such as the Manila Times, and the Business Mirror.

Pundits weigh in, with Jojo Robles saying Wowowee must be cancelled; Conrado de QuirosJB Baylon, and Dan Mariano and Efren Danao, and even a psychiatrist who denounces “distorted Filipino values.” Billy Esposo makes a plea for social responsibility.

My own column is An integrated approach, which liberally quotes from The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters, a paper by John Fruin. Read the paper -it explains not only why stampedes happen, but how they can be prevented. And how to go about discovering who deserves blame for the tragedy.

And the blogosphere weighs in, too: Torn & Frayed believes it was an important historical moment, on par with the Payatas dumpsite landslide in 2000.

Most posts wrestle with a question posed by the pundits and the public alike: is there a deeper dimension to the tragedy? Is it the fault of capitalism? A reflection of a moribund culture, religion, and society (read The Filipino Mind’s unrelated but relevant post on Filipino religion and the inevitabilty of revolution)? Something more, or less?

Go Figure thinks it’s extreme to blame poverty; it was a crowd-control disaster. Thoughts, Etc. from Hong Kong has a similar take.

Village Idiot Savant reflects views to the contrary: that the tragedy is a reflection of something deeper and more objectionable. Bulletproof Vest considers the statistics an addition to the overall gruesome numbers on the costs of poverty. AWBHoldings also focuses on the poverty angle. Harvard Street Cubao focuses on the deceit inherent in game shows and their producers.

Red’s Herring writes a requiem, ending with this poignant statement on the hoi polloi’s being viewed as without class (“Wa Class”) and yet aspiring for a classless society:

How simple! How foolhardy! How blight!
To fight for a ticket to heaven
As of the Old, untamed and mighty.
Poor, dumb Wa Class! Dead, crushed and fallen
Before they could fight.

Classless Heaven awaits them, so they pray.
Amen.

There’s other news, of course:

Arroyo appoints “Brat Pack” member, House ally to Cabinet (also: 2 House men tapped for Cabinet)

Sabio signs up for “shadow Cabinet

Erap, Cory, Susan meet; unification of forces up

The Civil Service Commission finally OK’s the Palace’s decision to move Mike Luz to another department.

Leandro Coronel and Asuncion David Maramba both tackle the question of bishops and the separation of Church and State.

Randy David blasts Amando Doronila and Jose Abueva.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ dissects the House’s constitutional amendments and discovers the framework for a vastly strengthened presidency.

Philippine Commentary believes CNN’s focusing on the horrors of children in prison in the country deflated the efforts of anti-American groups to insist on the imprisonment of American servicemen accused of rape.

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  1. fencesitter

    the psychiatrist’s view on what happened last saturday is the same view the sassy lawyer had on the program wish ko lang -the seeming tendency of pinoy to get lucky on things instead of working hard for it.

    the opinion , i think, may be valid in a situation where there are opportunities for work but people would prefer quick bucks than hard work. In that case, it is easy for us to say or lament over loss of values. But where work is nowhere to be found, where our college graduates are either unemplyed or underemployed and millions out there are in worst state than “isang kahig isang tuka”, a ticket to possible fortune, however small, is worth risking ones limbs when push comes to shove literally.

  2. a de brux

    MLQ3,

    I read Randy David’s piece against fellow columnist Doronila’s attack.

    I thought it was a great piece even if Mr David was quite on the defensive.

    I don’t want to stroke your ego some more but I must say that your Doronila blast MLQ3, was several notches more explosive than Mr David’s and thus much more effective.

    Mr Doronila, the eternal opportunist, had it coming.

  3. Jon Mariano

    Miguel Luz and Angie Reyes, two more people stabbed in the back by GMA. Somebody mentioned before that this style of governance is unsustainable. I agree, GMA will run out of people to doublecross.

    Luz whose expertise is in education sent to Labor? Angie Reyes a former general sent to DENR? And Puno to DILG? Wow, I don’t know their qualifications very well but what makes them qualified for their new assignments? Something is terribly wrong how these government top posts are filled.

  4. cvj

    The psychiatrist is looking at the tragedy through middle-class eyes. Pontificating about ‘values’ and ‘instant gratification’ without really appreciating the circumstances of the people who were queuing leaves a sick feeling in the stomach. I hope the good doctor gets to read the Business Mirror Front Page feature in the link above for some background information on the role games of chance play to a “69-year old hypertensive woman…who wakes up before 5 each morning…and sells barbecue sticks to students..[to support]…herself, her ailing son, and the grandchildren..”

  5. dodong

    It is terribly shocking!

    How could you explain those Filipinos (in hundreds) who still line up to get inside and wanted the show to go while next to them were more than 20 dead bodies?

    These Filipinos were told by the police that the show was canceled because of the tragedy and yet have shown no feelings blinded to win the P1 million prize.

    It is utterly disgusting!

  6. xxx

    It is terribly disgusting!

    A hundred of Filipinos lined up and wanted the show to go on, while nearby were more than 20 dead bodies.

    They were robbed of any feelings or guilt, blinded by the P1 million prize.

  7. Karl

    Off topic but somehow related
    Re: crowd attitude in watching sports events

    We are milder and tamer…..

    Around us ,Footballl stadiums literally break just because the favorite team lost….

    I don’t know if that ever happened here in any event…

    Re poverty,wealth and luck,diligence

    In my new field sales
    it always involves luck and twist of faith
    ERven if your you are very good you must also be lucky…

    I hear that if one works hard he wont even think of luck and get rich schemes……It always involves luck and the saying that if it yours its yours……

    and if it is your time it is your time….(to be rich, to die or what not)

  8. Karl

    “A hundred of Filipinos lined up and wanted the show to go on, while nearby were more than 20 dead bodies.”

    It not just digusting it is SAD but TRUE

  9. a de brux

    Re: xxx’ comment

    Recently, I encountered a group of laborers in an airport here who were deployed to/bound for Tchad to work for an American company.

    These men were under contract for less than a year and were expected to work in a high-risk region but to them it meant having a job and that was good enough.

    From what I understood, they were prepared to risk body and soul for less than 20,000 pesos a month (and less than that amount after the usual deductions) but they said to them it was a lot of money because it was sure money, besides, they said, they were insured! When I asked one how much money his family stood to collect in case he died, he said 1,500 dollars. When I asked if they thought 1,500 US$ was high enough, one exclaimed ‘Ay naku, malaking pera na ‘yun!’

    Based on Gloria’s precious peso surge against the dollar, I believe the laborer’s life therefore is worth 75,000 pesos give or take a few centavos.

    Wowweee’s 1,000,000 peso prize represented grossly the cost of a dozen Filipino lives in Tchad in the event of their death.

    If what xxx said was true that a hundred people were still waiting to get into the show grounds despite the 20 dead bodies around, it merely confirms that a poor man’s life has become of little value even to his own kind – not because the Filipino is innately bad but because his moral fiber has been so weakened by so much misery and poverty. The exploitation by the powerful and the greed of the leaders he sees around him have simply numbed him!

    You cannot expect to keep an impoverished population’s moral fiber intact when the people they look up to, the leaders they elect, the government that is sworn to protect and care for them put little value on their life.

  10. torn

    I agree that was a bit weird — people wanting the show to go on surrounded by bodies. Even if you accept that for poor people tragedy is an ever-present and that some of these people had queued for days, what were they thinking of? That really would have been the ultimate “dog eat dog” image — a happy winner clutching his or her 2 million peso prize and losers carried off to the morgue.

    Still, I agree with the fencesitter that is easy for us to talk about the “loss of values” implicit in such get rich quick games, but unless values are rewarded people will lose them. Poor Filipinos work very hard, but for what? These people give, give give every day and what is their return? No wonder they are attracted to the one in a million chance in a game show. That’s better than no chance at all, which is what they have outside the game.

  11. miss c

    i’m sure that not one of us posting here had ever experienced how it is not to eat for a day or two, we haven’t experienced how it is to go so hungry as to brave three days under the sun for a chance of a quick buck. to speak in behalf of those poverty-stricken people, as if we know first-hand what they were going through, is so darn hypocritical of us.
    the problem is not that those people have misplaced values, they are not lazy. their tenacity to wait in line for a chance to enter Ultra showed that. the problem is that they are left with no option at all.
    I agree with Mr. Conrado de Quiros that when people accept dole-outs, they are stripped of whatever dignity they possess. But when it comes to a choice between dignity or survival, which would one choose?

  12. Jon Mariano

    How low can Filipinos go? How about swindlers victimizing the stampede victims? See this link.

    It’s not all sad story though, there was also a heartwarming story of a municipal volunteer returning a victim’s money to the family at this link. The best and beast in man brought out by a tragedy.

  13. michaelsampras

    If I were to note your column entitled “an integrated approach” I would give you 10 over 20. on the first hand, it apparently lacks rigour, and it’s just “copy-paste”-type. on the other hand, it proves to be original as it differs from other’s insight,, classically problem of poverty, promotion of mendicancy, who should be held responsible of the incident, let alone attack against the government (You would never do that as you are PRO-Gma if I’m not mistaken). on the whole, ce n’est pas du tout mal, poursuivez!

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