SEPTEMBER 11, 2004 (SATURDAY)
It’s been exactly three years since the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. I still remember the events quite clearly: I was alone in my dorm room at UP Mindanao – Kenneth and Glenda had Bible study, and Papok was with her boyfriend in the lobby. I think I was doing my Comm 1 homework when suddenly my mobile phone beeped with a couple of incoming messages. One was from Smeagol, who kept on babbling about a bomb hitting a tower, and how it looked like a movie. The other one was from Gandalf, who said to watch TV because a hijacked plane was about to hit the World Trade Center twin towers. I rushed outside, fully expecting that the dorm managers would already be calling “Lights out!” to everyone since it was already past 10 PM. Instead, I saw a cluster of girls, including our dorm managers, in the lobby and the television turned to the local news channel. The announcer was speaking in Bisaya, but it didn’t really matter – the sequence of events spoke for themselves. I watched with a kind of numbness as the first plane slammed into the tower, and the smoke that engulfed the conflagration. I couldn’t even cry.
It was only yesterday that I managed to read the whole story about the massacre of schoolchildren in Russia by the rebel troops that had taken over the school, about how they strung explosives around the school gym and forced everyone at gunpoint to sit down in the middle of the gym. When the military arrived, they set of the explosives and when a number of children tried to escape, they were shot as they reached the doors. That was their first day of school.
And then there’s also that story of a local man, high on drugs and other shit, who jumped off the overpass somewhere in Quezon City with his year-old child in his arms. The man survived; the baby didn’t. And I’m sure that there were knots of people surrounding this man, perhaps taunting him to jump. But nobody did anything to save him, or to save the child. They only watched.
I will be the first to admit that I am apathetic when it comes to politics or to world matters. I was never really one to care about these matters of state importance. But when the innocents are the one who pay in blood money just because of the mistakes of their leaders, then I end up pounding my fists on the wall helplessly. Crying won’t do them any good, and prayers are only temporary relief for the religious. These children could have been mine, and someday when I do bring children into this world…do I really want them to be exposed to these things? Do I honestly want to bring new life in a world where people find it so easy to take lives away by the bulk – as if we are only talking about slaughtering chickens, livestock, animals?
Last night, I was thinking, “What right do I have worrying about my academics, my deadlines, my craft when all around me, children are dying? How come I live and walk and breathe and survive while tens of thousands of others die unmourned, choking on their own blood? What right to I have to live?” And I can’t seem to find my answer, and what frightens me is the fact that I might end up numbing myself from all this violence and anger and hate because that’s the only way I can exist. But I don’t want to. So I’ll just remember. I’ll remember what happened, and what can happen in the future, if we don’t do anything about what we have right now.