I was stuck in the office after having my evening class when I learned of the August 23, 2010 hostage taking incident at the Qurino Grandstand. Heavy rains came after my class so I was forced to stay in the office and wait until the downpour subsides. Little did I know, a rain of blood and violence was likewise happening in a nearby area.
I logged in my Twitter account and learned of the great threat in the lives of a number of tourists confined in a bus. In a snap, the Philippines earned a spot in CNN, BBC and the rest of the world. When the unfortunate event was over, I expected the pinpointing and buck passing. Senate hearings and all the discussions of who’s really to blame are not surprising scenes in the Philippines.
Over the next days, I remember once saying to my friend that my upcoming research presentation in the Asia Pacific Management Conference at the University of the Philippines (UP) might be affected. The university partner of UP is a reputable institution of higher learning from Taiwan, which if I am not mistaken is also governed by China. I was thinking that the hostage taking incident could scare and discourage representatives from China and even other countries in the Asia Pacific to visit the country for the annual event.
However, I was convinced with the belief that the conference has long been planned and academic sector is not easily affected by events occurring outside its own governance. I also believe that people in the academe are broad minded and considerate enough to realize that the hostage taking incident was an isolated case. The academe and the event should be spared from something which happened beyond their control.
My intuition came into reality on this day, September 13, 2010. I am now about to believe that the number 13 brings a negative omen. Before having my evening classes, I checked my email and received the most distressing and devastating news. The conference will not push through! It will be rescheduled on November of 2011 in Taiwan and not anymore in the Philippines. What’s worst is that even though my work was already accepted for presentation, there will be another round of screening handled by the university in Taiwan.
After reading the email for the first time, I never felt the any signs of distress, sadness and regret. The message of the email gradually trickled me pains of blame, frustrations, devastations and self-pity.
Before, I was a mere observant of the unfortunate event. The incident became a national concern, but my everyday life was not really affected. Life as a rank and file employee and part time educator continued. I never imagined myself that on the next days, I would be one of the persons who can’t help but blame and pinpoint all those people who have aggravated the incident.
I know my reason is so selfish. I am not in the position to hate because I was not a direct victim in the first place. I did not lose anyone from the incident. Call me self-centered and over acting but this opportunity lost also devastates me. I know that opportunity could never be equated to the number of lives that were lost and traumatized. I am not comparing their level of devastations to my own little misfortune. The truth is I just wanted to weep. What I have are selfish tears, words and feelings, when combined, would mean nothing.
I am nothing in the literal and figurative sense. I am nothing because I am just a rank and file employee, who saw a rare opportunity that once uplifted her downing spirits.
If someone is listening out there, I never asked for this one but I was more than thankful because you gave me this one great blessing. You made me believe it was mine. You brought me to heaven for some time. But now, are you taking it away for me? You know I never had the choice but to follow your will. If this is want you planned for me, so be it. But at the end of the day, please don’t blame me for shedding these selfish tears…