The recent Quirino Hostage Tragedy that claimed the lives of Chinese tourists in Manila is one of most depressing tragedies our nation has ever faced, because it is an event that has greatly damaged our integrity as a “friendly” nation other countries can deal with. This incident has already become one of the most discussed issues everywhere; from the cafes to the cyberspace; from classrooms to facebook and twitter accounts.
Many of us are so immersed in watching the Senate hearings, investigations, and programs on TV, radio, and in the internet that analyze the details of the incident; and where it all went wrong.
As I was watching these reports, and as somebody who is a film junkie, I just can’t help but be reminded of some of the movies that greatly resemble the grim reality of what has happened in Manila. Here are some of the movies that, for me, greatly resemble or remind me of the recent Quirino Hostage Tragedy…
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1. The Negotiator – See if this sounds familiar; a highly decorated policeman is suddenly implicated of a crime he’s not guilty of. In desperation, he takes some people hostage. Samuel Jackson plays Lt. Danny Roman, who is the police force’s hostage negotiator, but because of an embezzling case and the frame-up of a murder he did not commit he is driven to become the hostage taker himself. Now, fellow negotiator Chris Sabian (played by Kevin Spacey) tries to talk him off of the situation, but what they later unravel is the truth that exposes the corrupt elements in the police force.
2. Speed – Annie (Sandra Bullock) thought it was just a nice ordinary day as she takes her regular bus ride, unfortunately, madman Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) takes the same bus and its passengers hostage; to make matters worse, he rigs a complicated bomb mechanism that if the bus stops or even slows down, it will explode. Good thing Police Officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) forces his way onboard to stop the bad guy.
3. Die Hard – if you wanna see policemen, especially SWAT members who are just screwing up on their job, this movie has that series of sequences where the members of the law enforcement trying to extinguish a hostage situation fail.
From the moment they responded to the situation, the steps the policemen are taking are easily anticipated by the villains, in effect, the police end up looking like bungling fools. And yes, you have characters in this movie that are just groaning at how the police force is just doing everything wrong. And good thing John McClane (Bruce Willis) is there to stop the bad guys.
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4. 16 Blocks – Tell me if this is more familiar; Bruce Willis (once again) is a policeman driven in the middle of difficult circumstances, along with a convict prisoner (Mos Def) who has knowledge about the corruption in the police force, take a bus full of civilians hostage. And the policemen trying to extinguish the situation are really corrupt cops on a diabolical intent to kill them both.
This one has a scene that comes as the physically closest thing that resembles the Quirino Hostage Tragedy, as the bus passengers are being held as hostages, and that the police cannot just easily force themselves in because of the lives of the passenger hostages at stake.
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5. Fatal Vacation – this is sort of an obscure Hongkong movie, but one that is very much an art imitating life, or rather, art predicting life. In this movie, a group of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines are surprised when a group of armed rebels hijack the bus they are riding and took them as hostages, unless the government releases their leader. The rebels took them to their hideout where they were tortured, and when an encounter with the rescuing government forces ensues, the tourists gained a chance to fight back against their captors.
The most impressive and the more thought-provoking movies that focus its storyline upon a hostage situation are usually movies about people who have been battered by fate and desperation that they have found a last recourse in the crime of taking hostages, just to get their demands met. Such are the themes of the next two movies…
6. John Q. – Denzel Washington is a father who is down on financial desperation and cannot afford to pay for the medical operation of his kid who is struck with a life-threatening illness. This desperate father ends up holding a hospital emergency room as he takes some doctors and hospital staff hostage, just to get the medical attention his son needs.
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One may find that this story has a relevance in this dengue-epidemic times were experiencing lately, with a populace stricken by the death and danger that dengue brings. Desperation may be something that a great many are experiencing in these times.
7. Kapit sa Patalim: Bayan Ko – is the Lino Brocka classic and is closer to home, as this is an unfortunate tale of desperation of the working class Filipino during the 80’s (and still does happen today). Arturo (Philip Salvador) is a printing press worker who is driven into severe misfortune and ends up resorting to crime. This may not necessarily be reflective of the hostage situation we recently witnessed in Manila, but it is more reflective on the situation of unfortunate Filipinos who the cross that line of resorting to crime because of desperation. That journey from living a normal life, into misery and helplessness and finally into the darkness of crime. The main character in Kapit sa Patalim may be very different from Captain Mendoza, but they probably share one manner of thinking; that the system cannot help them anymore no matter how much they struggle within the lines of what is legal; and they take that devil’s path, which led them to an eventual tragic end. Of all the movies I have enumerated here, this is the only one that has a tragic end.
These are all just movies. Many of these flicks may have nice, redeeming happy endings. But reality is, obviously, a whole lot different. Things never go out as planned, the good guys may never get through the storm unscathed nor may they get avenged, and the bad guys may get away with it. There is no “End” except for the lives that have been lost. For the rest of us, we have to live with the consequences of the recent Quirino Hostage Tragedy. We are left with no choice but face the effects of our government’s incompetence. Our image as a nation is tarnished because of this tragedy, and it will not be easy to find a simple redemption from this. It is but human for some of us to have that moment of escapism, and wish that this incident had a happy ending. </object></object></object>