The Manila Mayhem

August 23, 2010

It’s Monday, a start of yet another ordinary week. Heavy traffic faced me I was travelling home from school. It’s way too early for rush hour for me to experience this kind of traffic. I asked myself. Is there a VIP making his/her way through the busy streets of the metro? Is there a parade of celebrities? Is there a vehicular accident? What is happening, I have no idea.

The Media Coverage

Many thanks to the bus I took going home for they have a television set on board. The screen says “Live! Exclusive!” It was that I found out that the traffic was because of the hostage taking situation happening at Quirino Grandstand.

The media, or what is commonly known to us as the different news programs on TV and radio, has an important role in information dissemination. People’s sources of up-to-date and detailed news are these different television and radio stations. I personally watch the primetime news program on TV to keep myself in-the-know of the happenings in and out of the country.

We often hear and see the statements “Walang kinikilingan, serbisyong totoo lamang” and “In the service of the Filipino People,” but do we understand them? To me, it seems that these statements are promises coming from the local television stations; their promises of bringing to us complete news stories, no biases, no cuts.

But come to think of it… Is it still reasonable to show unedited footages of the restless driver shouting “wala nang buhay sa loob” or of the hostage taker being shot not once but multiple times? Yes, the members of the media may say that it is their duty to give people the truth and show the people what was really happening. For some, they appreciate the media’s effort of bringing a full blown coverage of the event. For most of us, it is disappointing.

Where do we draw the line? Where do these media people draw the line?

The Media and the World

It’s an issue between the Philippines and the world. We know for a fact that this event reached the world in a matter of hours. Video footages were immediately uploaded online. People started posting messages on their social networking accounts. People tweeted from time to time, about the event updates and their thoughts on the matter at hand. Conversations among networks quickly started and developed. It’s not just the Filipinos who were talking about this issue, it is the whole world.

This is clearly negative publicity for the Philippines, which can be rooted from the full blown media coverage. People had the television and the radio as sources for their conversations online. If only the media had given us partial coverage of the event, the world could not have given rash judgements against the Philippines.

Again, I ask the same questions: Where do we draw the line? Where do these media people draw the line?

Me and the Manila Mayhem

Because of the many emotions I was feeling during the entire duration of the hostage taking crisis, I posted a status message in my Facebook account. It says: “What is the implication of the hostage taking crisis to my OrCom (Organizational Communication) practice?” I’m still a student, and I know that I don’t have a big share of voice in this matter. But given the instance, I found the need to rationalize how my college degree program can actually apply in the situation. Let me enumerate my thoughts:

  1. As an Organizational Communication (OrCom) practitioner, I am task to frame messages sent to the public. Framing messages is one of the tasks that we OrCom practitioners do best. I should be able to frame the hostage taking crisis into a message that would not cause any panic to the people.
  2. As an OrCom practitioner, I should be able to handle unforeseen events such as crisis situations. OrCom is basically about “creating and exchanging messages in a network of interdependent relationships to cope with environmental uncertainties (Goldhaber, 1991).”
  3. As an OrCom practitioner, I ought to know how to deal with the international community. Since the hostage taking crisis involved Hong Kong nationals, I should know how the Chinese would react to the situation. Given so, I would be able to talk to them or face them in an acceptable way.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. baycas
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 21:13:19

    MICHAEL ROGAS: Captain Rolando Mendoza, good evening, sir…
    CAPT. ROLANDO MENDOZA: Good evening, sir.

    MICHAEL: This is Michael Rogas from RMN. Sir, you are the hostage taker, is it right?
    MENDOZA: Right, sir.
    MICHAEL: What is your plan at this juncture, sir?

    x x x x x

    (The ever hopeful Mendoza reads aloud the Ombudsman’s letter upon the request of Rogas. Note that Mendoza is already in personal contact with Orlando Yebra, the chief negotiator.)

    MENDOZA: x x x x x…for me this is trash, this letter is trash! This is not what I need!

    MICHAEL: Ok, what’s your plan, sir? Now that your demand was not met…
    MENDOZA: For me this is trash, this is not what I need. What I need is their decision, reversing or not reversing (my dismissal). That’s it! Thank you for the effort of the mayor and the vice mayor, I don’t need that letter, sir.

    MICHAEL: What is your plan now, sir, what do you want?
    MENDOZA: There’s nothing in that (letter), nothing, none whatsoever, sir. It only says a review will be done. In effect, nothing will come of it, nothing, sir. That paper is nothing to me, if it said (I am) dismissed already, nothing will happen as a result (of that letter), sir.

    MICHAEL: Captain, what’s your plan now, sir?

    MENDOZA (addressing Yebra): This one, I’ll make an example of this one, step aside, go away…I don’t need that (letter), sir, that letter has nothing to say…you, you’re a lawyer…there’s nothing in that (letter)!

    MICHAEL: Captain, wait, please calm down.
    MICHAEL: Captain, take it easy, sir…What’s your plan now, sir, inasmuch as your demand was not granted, we will call the Ombudsman at this point in time.
    MENDOZA: Most likely something bad will happen inside this bus.

    MICHAEL: Wait, through us, RMN (live radio broadcast), what is your request (from the authorities)?

    x x x x x


    Clearly, the negotiator failed MISERABLY in his job as he wasn’t able to frame a “yes-able” proposition to the hostage taker. Imagine asking an already impatient (Read: pissed off) gunman to still wait for a review???

    And adding insult to injury had the temerity to “lie” to the hostage taker (borne by his incoordination with assistant negotiator Romeo Salvador who promised to return the brother’s handgun and the extreme error of bringing along the brother whose presence is already suspect the first time this brother appeared on the scene)???

    Nonetheless, I believe a re-negotiation can still be done with a new…this time, trustworthy…negotiator.

    All demands of Mendoza are negotiable even up to the last minute: the primary demand (reinstatement) and the instant demands (pullout of the snipers, withdrawal of the SWAT team seen deploying, and stopping the arrest of his brother – regardless if Mendoza saw the “manhandling” on TV).

    If only the events were not overtaken by Rogas’ so-called “interview.” If only Rogas didn’t “harass” Mendoza. If only Rogas didn’t “promise” an effective communication to authorities. If only Rogas didn’t put upon himself and RMN the task of mediating the hostage taker’s demands…

    If only RMN (through Jake Maderazo) alerted the police early on the “interview” of their ongoing talks with Mendoza…

    If only Mendoza was given an opportunity of a TRUE DIALOGUE, then none of the innocents are dead today.


    Quote of the Year:

    The interview by (radio reporter) Michael Rogas gave the hostages an extra few hours to live,” Pimentel, a former senator, told the station.


    The politicians and the police are accountable but those irresponsible members of media, by virtue of their constitutionally-protected primary right to press freedom, are NOT. The most they will get, if ever found guilty of Grave Offense (first time) by the “self-regulatory” body of the KBP – the KBP Standards Authority – is a Php15,000 fine plus reprimand (Rogas and Tulfo) and Php30,000 fine plus censure (RMN).

    If the whole picture of the culminating events of the August 23 Hostage Incident will not be understood then those irresponsible members of media will continue with their irresponsibility…”only doing their jobs,” as they are mouthing what they did, with clean hands…when all the while they are bloodied by their insatiable hunger for news and their unquenchable thirst for fame!


    Media vilifying media should probably be a part of SELF-REGULATION.


  2. sarahforward
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 13:26:18

    This is what I really like about you Pam, at the end of it all the lessons learned has to come home–OrCom.

    The good thing about the media after they covered the hostage crisis, they made an effort to amend their rules and protocols when it comes to covering life-threatening situations. They were one of the people who had the most control of the situation because millions of people were watching it…live. Mistakes are only as good as the lessons we learn from them. It’s good that the media networks took it upon themselves to review were they have gone wrong and correct them.

    At some point, I also felt guilty because I feel like if the media did not show it on TV, I would have felt like that they were suppressing the public’s right to know. But I realized that sometimes we have to let go of personal gains for the greater good.

    Who knows Pam in the future you might work for these networks and you can share to them the things you learned in college are what they are just learning now.


  3. villongco
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 01:36:51

    this issue made people speak up. social networking sites were filled with status messages and tweets regarding the issue. people clamoured for a better police system. people shouted about the stupidy of our so-called protectors through a “shout out”. my thing about this issue isthe fact that social networking sites allow us to voice out our concerns with the whole world as our audience.


  4. shecainess
    Oct 02, 2010 @ 12:48:38

    i totally agree with you on this pam. it was really tragic what went on that day. worse part is the whole world had to share the sad news.

    very brilliant thought right there, the incident’s implication to us orcommunicologists.. we have been thought since day one – plan ahead, prepare for disaters.


  5. kimgiel
    Oct 02, 2010 @ 12:55:49

    hi pam!

    1. framing
    2. deal with unforeseen events
    3. deal with the international community

    I believe OrCom has provided us the training ground for these. Though the workplace is really different, the classroom has tried to at least give us a feel of what these three are like. I remember Sir Ed with framing and Ma’am Sarile with the third OrCom skill. Projector failure experiences at RH 3oo reminds me to be ready with unforeseen events. 🙂


  6. shakennotstirred007
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 00:21:27

    This incident reminds me of the existence of gatekeepers. Some information are not meant to be leaked. Especially to the wrong people.

    As communicators, one important thing to learn is tact. It is the ability to say the right things, at the right time, in the right manner.


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