Saddened, but grateful still
The year ends on a violent coda, a bloody episode in a year marked by the murder of, if not the exactly innocent, then the disadvantaged — the men and women with no recourse to justice or due process dying by the thousands, on the wayside of city streets and alleys, or even in their homes.
Even worse was the blood shed by the truly innocent: the young, the children, the babies who died as targets of law enforcers, or as “collateral damage” when their tender bodies got in the way of bullets.
Fortunately, there were no children in the incident that unfolded Thursday night, when police responded to reports on a shooting in the course of an alleged argument among neighbors. A van was quickly mustered to bring a woman injured in the gunfight to hospital, along with some other passengers. But the packed van was met, not by a police escort, but by a police attack force, which (probably to the shock of the driver and passengers) quickly surrounded the vehicle and fired straight into it.
Two were reportedly killed (including the injured woman), while two others were injured. The police chief of Mandaluyong, where the shooting took place, has been suspended along with 10 policemen involved in the operation.
That the news came at a time when most families were prepping for the usually rambunctious, rollicking New Year’s Eve celebration tonight added an extra sting of irony to a year marked by violence and death.
In the days leading up to the close of the old year, the country had to deal with a stream of bad news: two devastating storms that wrought destruction and loss of life in the Visayas and Mindanao; a fire in a mall in Davao City that killed at least 37 employees of a call center of what wire reports called the market research firm Survey Sampling International; skirmishes between the military and rebels; and the continuing carnage of the war on drugs.
“Continuing carnage” is a particularly painful phrase to describe the antidrug killings, which have become so common, so familiar, that they have ceased to shock or even surprise. The carnage has been wrought not just on those suspected of using or dealing in drugs, but on the public as well. It is as if, through overexposure, our conscience and our sense of outrage have been dulled and rendered inutile.
Even the news of the “mistaken” shooting in Mandaluyong has been met with relative equanimity, as if such viciousness and stupidity on the part of police and barangay tanod (village enforcers) were to be expected, part of the package of impunity that the government has forced on us.
As we put the year 2017 to a close, let’s pray with all the fervor we can muster that the bloodletting will ease up, if not cease altogether. Let us pray that abandoned corpses on sidewalks and garbage-strewn street corners will cease becoming a common sight. Let us pray that we will never stop feeling and sharing the pain of the loved ones of those who have died in the past year. Let our prayers be prayers of and for peace, for courage, and for humanity.
On a personal note, some cousins have reminded me that I also have a lot to be thankful for. We were discussing the theme for this year’s New Year party for the clan. I suggested “Gratitude and Hope,” but took it back with the remark that, coming from such a terrible year, “we have nothing to be grateful for.”
That’s when they reminded me that I particularly had a lot of thanking to do. Yes, I almost forgot. It will be almost a year since I fell off that tour bus in Istanbul and broke my hip. I came home in a wheelchair, and after months of therapy managed to maneuver my way on a walker, then with the aid of the cane, and now I am walking unaided, though I tire easily when I must walk a distance.
It is not a small blessing, and the thought that I can now afford to forget the three screws attached to my hip is something fit to celebrate. So thank you—God, my guardian angel, my doctors, the nurses who took such good care of me, my therapists, and the hubby who took over from them. Thank you for allowing me to welcome 2018 upright and mobile, and raring to go places!
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