We have entered a new era marked by technology, egalitarianism and freedom of expression. However, there are consequences of which we need to be aware and take account. These consequences, once they come up from our judgments and decisions, may affect my life, your life, or our lives as humans with a particular task to behave with civility toward everyone, and expect the same from them.
I was dumbfounded when I woke up at 4 a.m. on Sept. 3 and found out that there was an explosion in Davao City around 10 the previous night. As many as 14 people died and over 60 others were injured. Davao has been close to my heart ever since I was a child. Frequent holiday trips there were always planned; after all, my hometown is only a three-hour ride away from Mindanao’s biggest commercial center.
Despite the fact that, as of this writing, nothing much has been confirmed (it was reported that the authorities found pieces of shrapnel from a mortar-based improvised explosive device, but there were also rumors circulating that the explosion was caused by a gas leak), the incident has inflicted hurt and distress on many Filipinos, especially Dabawenyos. Immediately, sympathies poured and prayers were posted on social media.
However, while I was going through the numerous tweets and posts from people expressing their sentiments and opinions on the unfortunate matter, I found that some had managed to attack not only Davao City and President Duterte but also the victims of the blast. A handful of posts were immediately criticized in the virtual platform.
“Bwahahahaha anyare sa ‘one of the safest city in the world’ ??? !!!! Kabobohan. Parang presidente lang na may topak…”
“Lesson yan. Hinay-hinay sa kahambugan Digong. Nagiinit ang ulo ng mga masasamang loob. Well, same with the davaoenos, abot hanggang Luzon hangin nio. Be mindful with your next move.”
“In your face, DigongGong.”
In a world filled with vindictiveness, confusion and mayhem, do we still have the time to nitpick and be subjectively critical of the things happening around us?
I am utterly sad.
The power of unity enforced by the French and the Belgians when bombings occurred in Paris and Brussels really amazed me. Those were remarkable moments filled with patriotism, national concern and sympathy.
But here, there are people, my very own compatriots, attacking their countrymen who are badly injured, and some who are dead. All this because of politics, prejudice and regionalism. I am completely devastated and embarrassed.
Although it is no surprise that the internet is filled with trolls and bullies, it is still a disappointment that we Filipinos are wounding our country’s reputation as respectable, civil and kind.
The explosion was a tragedy, a disaster that should not evoke feelings of anger and blame. Nor should it be an opportunity to spread hate and repugnance. It was a part of human life, a challenge that we need to overcome in unity with one another.
As far as natural disasters are concerned, the Philippines is in fact one of the most united and resilient nations in the world. Yet we fail to capitalize on this when the tragedy is manmade, and often we waste time and effort on blame rather than on finding an effective solution to acts of violence.
In this recent event, we must take note that bombs and shrapnel are not limited to shells, shards and splinters. They can take the form of words, too.
John Dexter G. Canda, 18, is in the third year of his biology course at Ateneo de Zamboanga University.