It was a shocking and sad day for all Filipinos on August 23, 2010. What started as a normal day became a bloody hostage crisis in the Philippines' capital city Manila. Nine innocent Hong Kong tourists were killed by a recently fired police officer who, was eventually shot and killed by a sniper himself. The killing could have been avoided if our police squad and SWAT teams were well-trained and well-equipped. But they were obviously not.
Millions of Filipinos, including me, were shocked at the poor handling of the hostage situation by our own security forces. It was an embarrassment to our capability to save lives. This we cannot deny.
This day has been a wake-up call to our struggling country - a nation that was once proud of its strong economy, education and wealth - but now ruled by the corrupt, the opportunist and the sinister.
We, Filipinos, are truly sad about this whole tragic incident. We know that our government cannot bail our country out from this despair and humiliation. Their apologies may not reach the entire Chinese nation but we continue to hope that our condolences might.
Millions of Filipinos, young and old are expressing their deepest sympathies to the bereaved families and to those affected by this tragic event. I hope that this sincere apology from a humble Filipino teacher in Thailand, along with the other thousand gestures of apologies from Filipinos worldwide, will reach the heart of every Chinese person.
Please allow me to share the letter from a young student in Samar, Philippines:
As you are reading this letter, I bet that you have seen or heard about what happened earlier in our country. A group of tourists was taken hostage by a policeman named Rolando Mendoza. After a few hours, some of the victims were dead and the hostage-taker too.
I wrote this letter not just to apologize but also to let everyone know that we Filipinos are not all like Mendoza. We are loving and good-hearted people.
For so many years, our country has been standing tall and overcoming every dilemma; be it small or big. Years ago (before I was born), you have watched us fight for what we think is right. We fought for the democracy of our nation.. The EDSA revolution. But that's just one out of many struggles.
Second, we Filipinos have been serving in other countries for the benefit of our families and we treat you as our own as well. With all due respect, I thank you all for giving us the trust through the years. For helping us to become what we are now. The Philippines is more than just a group of islands. We are a nation of strong and remarkable people. A country of beauty and love known to be hospitable and well-valued. I humbly apologize for what happened. No one in this world would want something like that to happen. Life should be valued.
I politely ask for the attention of the world. Please do not judge and mistreat us just because of what happened tonight. I have been searching the net and uncovered terrible words and accusations. Hong Kong has advised its people to avoid traveling here, China and HK has banned Filipinos and has called for The Philippines to be considered a no-go zone.
I can't blame you for what you have decided but I wish you could understand. Our country is now drowning in a sea of problems. And I know for sure that we have helped you in a way or another. Let peace and understanding reign at this time.
I know that this letter will just become trash but I beg you to understand. On behalf of the Philippine population.. WE ARE SORRY. As one song puts it...
"And I believe that in my life I will see an end to hopelessness, giving-up and suffering. And we all stand together this one time then no one will get left behind. Stand up for life. STAND UP FOR LOVE."
Reigno Jose Dilao
Catbalogan City, Samar
(End of Letter)