Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Ground zero"

As of this posting, there were already nine who died (the first four who were pronounced dead were severely injured and hardly recognizable), and 119 injured, including Korean and Chinese nationals. The youngest of those injured and rushed to the hospital was reported to be 50, while the youngest was one-year-old.

The explosion-which, as per initial post blast investigation-came from the lobby, shattered establishments within into near pieces and blasted its way up to the three floors of the mall, that also sent debris outside.

It was first said to be caused by a fuel tank explosion, attributed from a Chinese fastfood restaurant-which caught fire last year.

"It was a bomb"
But as hours went on, the country's police chief said, as per preliminary data gathering, "it was a bomb."

What supposedly an ordinarily busy Friday at 1:30pm, in Glorietta mall complex in the financial district of Makati, turned into a shocked sea of mall-goers, a chaotic site for reporters, photographers, TV and radio crew who all want to get the news, while authorities tightened security and cordoned off the area, plus medical teams attentive in providing aids, bomb-sniffing dogs rounding the area, not to mention those who linger in the area, like paparazzis nosing for what happened.

As per late night news, Glorietta 1, 3, and 4 will still be open today starting 10am, and as per footage shown earlier, life goes on in the area, with bars and restaurants still open for those who want a break from a busy week-and an "explosive" week at that.

Why call it "ground zero"
And local media were quick to call it ground zero, which use became popular with the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center.

My brother, Linard, pointed out it should not be called like that, since the term was first used to describe the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing - a bombing of such magnitude - though he does not discount the lives lost and hundreds injured in the Glorietta blast. Ah huh, point taken, bro.

Asking "ifs"
While seeing the first flash report on this, my mother asked me if Robin and I stayed at Glorietta? And I got cold in realizing that - I told her that's our meeting place, where I asked Robin most of the time (when he got to stay here for two weeks) to meet me after coming from some events at that or from our magazine's office or coming here from our place.

And I told my fiance, when we were talking then about the first time he was coming here for a visit, that Makati, specifically Ayala Center district - with the Glorietta mall complex, Greenbelt malls, The Landmark, SM Makati, plus 5-star hotels (where most dignitaries, foreign dignitaries stay), train station plus terminals leading to North and South areas of Mega Manila, and the business and financial hub of the city - and the country at that - is safe since it "is" heavily secured.

I got him convinced at that so he stayed in a hotel in that area (both for his two visits, and another hotel in that area also, after he came from Kota Kinabalu for a weekend of work, before he went back to Singapore), and while waiting for me and killing time, he frequented Glorietta mall complex-he even got into sections of the mall that I've never been to, I found out, as he lead me to those areas when we where searching for engagement ring.

Looks like Makati is not as safe as I told you, Robin.

Then more "what ifs" hit me:

I was there at Glorietta Thursday afternoon. I asked around children's clothing shops for contact details since we need to pullout clothes for our Wednesday shoot this coming week. And I was planning Friday morning to go back to Glorietta, as in really hang out there, or even watch a movie, which is exclusively shown at that mall. So what if I pushed through with that plan?

Robin and I met and stayed and searched for an engagement ring there at Glorietta mall. What if that explosion happened while he was waiting for me in one of those coffee shops while reading Iain Bank's latest book? Blessedly (and sorry to sound selfish of me), it did not happen when he was here, staying there in that area.

If that happened, or to any of his countrymen, sure his embassy will be upset, considering his country's former ambassador here was one of those who got trapped in that hotel (connecting to Glorietta) when that Oakwood mutiny happened.

And when I told Robin (who is now again in KK for work) via SMS earlier tonight about what happened, he said, "why would they (whoever responsible for this explosion) want to do that? And with you walking past (there) all the time, if I lost you, I don't know what I'd do!"

The US Embassy already issued a warning to its citizens not to frequent Glorietta for now. What maybe next is a travel advisory. And I'm kind of eerily anticipating for that from Robin's embassy here. If that happens, then he will not be able to visit for such a time the travel ban is up. Meaning, I just really have to take my turn to visit him - which I'm hoping soon.

Updates as of this posting
Aftershock events from that blast: It was reported the peso weakened following the Glorietta explosion; US and UK, two of the countries staunchest political and trade allies, expressed sympathies; malls in other city will have more heightened security; the police and army are on full alert, among other related news.

Investigation will be on for the next days-months or years. The explosion maybe is targeted to destabilize the present administration-which is shaky from the very beginning. Or maybe the administration plotted this to have an excuse to declare Martial Law (and there is still this contested Human Security Law). Whoever masterminded this, that should be known, and as what President Arroyo said, the government will leave "no stone unturned" regarding this explosion.

What more to say but let us be further safe-and vigilant.

More information on the Glorietta blast:
List of dead and injured (as of this posting)

A blogger's account of the blast-in pictures

More accounts of the blast, as compiled in Manuel Quezon III's blog

A timeline of "terror attacks"
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