I was reading a magazine in the bedroom when my wife and daughter turned the TV on and asked me to watch the Miss Universe pageant. I said ” why don’t you watch downstairs at the family room ?” My wife replied ” no, I want you to watch because Miss Philippines might win this darn contest !” Okay, so we all huddled in the bed to watch Maria Venus Raj and her fellow finalists jostle their way through the last hurdle of the contest, the burdensome and exacting question and answer period. Raj was asked by actor William Baldwin a rather familiar question which some of us had been asked before, most likely in a job interview- ” What was the one big mistake that you did in your life? And what did you do to make it right?”

Raj slightly froze, evidently taken aback by such a simple sounding but loaded question. She was under extreme time pressure to draft up a spontaneous and witty reply. More importantly, she had to make a split second decision whether to tell the truth or lie without embarrassing herself in front of the millions of viewers watching the show. Her third option was to bullshit around, make people laugh and deflect the question without actually answering it but she’s no Rosie O’Donnel nor Margaret Cho. If I had tell a white lie, cook something up to get through a benign crisis such as a vainglorious beauty contest – this was it !

Possible answers :

– I shoplifted when I was a teenager ( sound familiar? πŸ˜‰ )
– I had sex with someone I didn’t like ( ayayy..)
– I once wore my dad’s briefs to school ( ugh.. )
– I cheated at my final exam in high school ( and who did not ..)
– William Baldwin, you’re a real jackass for asking me this question πŸ™‚

This was her reply : ” In my 22 years of existence there is nothing major, major problem I’ve done because I’m confident in myself and my family. Thank you for being here. Thank you, thank you very much.”

Raj’s reply was quick and spontaneous but ” inexplicable and unintelligible” according to critics from the media. Some say that with her gaffe she finally committed the big one mistake of her life πŸ™‚ Aw common now, give the girl a frigging break will you ? She didn’t want to say she poisoned a puppy with a tablespoon of monosodium glutamate ( Ajinomoto) when she was 10 πŸ™‚ In retrospect though, William Baldwin was indeed a jackass for asking such a potentially incriminating question. In our bedroom post mortem analysis of the pageant result, my daughter asked my wife ” what about you Mommy, what was the big one mistake you commited in your life ?” My wife replied ” marrying your Dad:mrgreen:


The gaffe at the Miss Universe pageant and the recent hostage taking crisis in Manila – do they have anything in common ? This journalist who lived briefly in the Philippines apparently thinks so. He compares Raj’s inability to win despite a good command of the English language – she didn’t need an interpreter – and the pathetic failure of the police to deal with the lone hostage taker as manifestations of our underperformance, the lack of commitment and pragmatism in the way we do things resulting in the subpar achievements of the of the country in the last decades. He says – “If the Philippines wants to get its act together and live up to its potential, it needs to demand more of itself. It can achieve this by stopping making excuses for its failures and ending its acceptance of the lowest common denominator

On the issue of the hostage crisis, how could someone with a reasonable amount of common sense believe that he can successfully negotiate to get his job back by holding a bunch of tourists hostage ? A police officer at that ! If I were the ombudsman I would say, OK – you’re getting your job back but only after you serve 10 years in jail for hijacking a bus, forcibly confining the passengers against their will and making death threats with an automatic weapon. Now hear this – if by some twist of fate, however farcical and prosterous this may sound, the man got his job back, alas, talk about a nasty precedent. Now anyone can commander a jeepney, or a bus, hold people hostage to get their case heard.

A blogger friend of mine posted this article in his blog.

Letter to the WORLD

15 yr old Reigno Dilao posted this letter to CNN’s IReport site after the hostage crisis:

As you are reading this letter, I bet that you have seen/heard about what happened earlier in our country.

Tourists were hostages of a policeman here, Rolando Mendoza. After a few hours of the horrible crime, some of the victims were dead including the hostage-taker. I wrote this letter not just to apologize but also to let everyone know that we Filipinos are not all like Mendoza. We are loving and good-hearted people. For so many years, our country has been standing tall and surpassing every dilemma; be it small or big. Years ago (back when I wasn’t born yet), you have watched us fight for what we think is right. We fought for the democracy of our nation.. The EDSA revolution. But that’s just one out of many.

Second. We Filipinos have been serving other countries for our families and we treat you as our own as well. With all due respect, I thank you all for giving us the trust through the years. For helping us to become what we are now.The Philippines is more than just a group of islands. We are a nation of strong and remarkable people. A country of beauty and love known to be hospitable and well-valued. I humbly apologize for what happened tonight. No one in this world would want something like that to happen for life should be valued.

I politely ask the attention of the world. Please do not judge and mistreat us just because of what happened tonight. I have been searching the net and found terrible things. Hong Kong advices to avoid travels here, China and HK bans Filipinos and that Philippines is the worst place to go. I can’t blame you for what you have decided but I hope that you could understand. Our country is now in a sea of problems. And I know for sure that we helped you in a way or another. Let peace and understanding reign this time.

I know that this letter will just be trash but I wish that you would understand. On behalf of the Philippine population.. WE ARE SORRY.

Here’s my comment on his blog :

Dunno what to say but such apology, telling the world that we are “a strong and remarkable people” is more delusional than anything given the fact that our police have no respect for life whatsoever.

There is no sense of bending over because frankly people will judge you for your actions. As one saying goes ” you can’t establish a reputation on what you plan to do “.

The only thing that can appease the victim’s families is for justice, in some shape or form, to be done after a thorough investigation. Historically though, these kinds of events will just die a natural death and very likely no one will be held responsible for the mishandling of the crisis. That’s our trademark as a people which is disgusting.


30 Responses

  1. shoplifting ? That’s funny πŸ™‚ I would have a hard time answering that question too coz I don’t want to embarrass myself.

    I’ve seen too many movies about hostage taking. we think it is easy but we don’t know how it is in real life. It is so sad that innocent people have to die.

  2. “Marrying your dad”, hahahaha!

    But really, the crown was almost hers until the Q & A. Nakakagulat naman talaga yung tanong. Mahirap sagutin, pero pwedeng malusutan. Anyway, that’s history and we’re still proud of Venus.

    Re: the hostage related issues dying like a natural death, hay, sana talaga naging matinding wake up call na’to sa lahat.

    • If my daughter asked me that question, I would have replied the same – marrying your mom- hehe πŸ™‚

      Of course, we are still proud of her. She was given the most difficult question among the 5 fnalists IMO.

      We shall see how our new president handles this episode. Back in his mind, this investigation parallels how his father Ninoy was assassinated and the subsequent investigation went nowhere. He for sure knows how it feels for justice to be denied – I hope.

  3. I had sex with someone I didn’t like… that would have been a real gutsy reply. Who knows, it could get her the win πŸ™‚

    Haven’t we learned enough hostage from taking movies? They should have called Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson instead 😦

    • LOL. that would have been a real bomb hehe πŸ™‚ Who knows how many dysfunctional judges were in the line up – she could pull a win – we will never know πŸ˜‰

      How about Steven Segal ? πŸ™‚

  4. Is my answer punishable in a court of law?

    Will my answer jeopardize my job, or romance life?

    Will I be able to answer this question, and return to my home country?

    Maybe my analysis is too intense, but how quickly can I summon an answer that is meaningful, but not make me sound socially inept? I think Mr. Baldwin may be a troublemaker…

    … but there were three women who apparently answered the question okay

    • How are you Keith ? Hope you’re doing well πŸ™‚

      those are valid questions that may have caused Raj to be very tentative with her reply. We should credit Mr Baldwin for being a jackass for asking such question πŸ˜†

      The other 4 finalists were asked different questions. The questions were – what do you think of the security scanning devices at the airport where your body could be seen, what do you think of the death penalty, how could we protect our children from the internet, what do you think of the dress code banning women to wear their religious/traditional costume. I thought these were easier to answer.

  5. Given the crazy sh*t that happens with Philippine government, the military and law enforcement, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the cop DID get his job back once he let the hostages go.

    • Know what Wil, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if local folks condoned Mendoza’s actions being an oppressed employee hitting back at his powerful employer. This is what really bothers me, that we can’t no longer discern what is legit from illegit. Shades of Erap making a “raceback” after being convicted of plunder , getting back his seat as president 😦

      Me too – I don’t think he would have gotten his job back. He was embroiled in a case where police officers shoved shabu in the mouth of a Manila hotel chef who they arrested for traffic violation, extorted 20grand from the guy to dropped the charges. Some say Mendoza was fired for command responsibility – he allegedly wasn’t involved in the transaction but his subordinates were. Suffice to say police and military rules of conduct are more stringent and different from our corporate office rules. Mendoza couldn’t accept the final and resolute decision of the ombudsman, the law of the land – that’s the real issue.

  6. I still feel that despite the Filipinos good command of the English language our beauty contestants or even Pacquiao should avail of an interpreter. Simply because this way we can have our points across more effectively. We do speak in English better than any of our neighbors in SEA, but we still think in Tagalog or our native tongues.

    I thought Venus was more regal in her bearing than Ms Mexico and Ms Mexico’s answer also did not make way too much sense, but she didn’t falter in answering because she spoke in her language.

    Again, why can we as Filipinos don’t show enough love and pride in our national language by speaking it in global/international stage??????

    • Very true. As long as the are professional interpreters who can convey the thoughts well in English – it is much better.

      Talking about boxers, Mexican champs Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales can speak conversational English adequately but they always opt to get an interpreter during intervews with the media so they could be understood well.

      • on the mexican boxers opting to use interpreters – exactly my point.

        i remember one ms universe pageant where an eastern european (?) beauty landed in top 5 and she spoke good english, but opted to use the interpreter during the question and answer portion towards the end.

        • that was a smart move for the question and answer period, where you express your thoughts in the local language and rely on the expertise of professional translators to translate them for you. For all you know, they could construct the sentences much better than you πŸ˜‰

  7. Too bad Maria Venus Raj did not win… who cares about her biggest mistake :-0

    As of the hostage crisis… only in da Pilipines.. πŸ™‚

    • I know πŸ™‚ Methinks the world is waiting for these poor contestants to err. I think they should make the rule where a contestant speaks the official language of ofher country – period and let interpreters do the translation.

      Incidentally 3 of the dead hostages had Canadian passports and are liiving in my city. There’s not much noise here though.

  8. Didn’t even know the contest was in Sin City…I’m out of touch when it comes to these shows and any celebrities…don’t even know who lady gaga or beiber were. The twat (Paris) however only got my attention since I read the crimes section of the local news, wish she gets incarcerated again, hehe….

    Any questions on those pageants are legitimate, and I agree Naypis in the future should use interpreters.

    The hostage incident took most of my energy, I’m just exhausted. Bloggers/commenters are just divided on the issue. Even China complained why Mendoza’s coffin was draped on Pinas Flag…and someone from PNoy administration apparently had it removed. It was muscle flexing by the chinese and our government once again was subservient. This whole thing didn’t really turned out good.

    • I didn’t know about it too until my wife told me it was on TV πŸ˜‰

      Hongkong sent a police team to help in the investigation. This looks like intervention and I heard news reports that say that RP will do the job and furnish the Chinese the results.

      On one hand, such apparent intervention and close surveiilance might yield results we all wanted to hear – what happened and who was accountable. The Chinese won’t rest until the grieving families are given some justice. The sad part of this saga is we need a foreign entity to coerce us to move our butts to come up with an answer since we don’t seem capable of doing it ourselves.

      • I just don’t like these things I’m reading on the net such as the chinese are giving noypis the hateful looks in their business establishments wordlwide.. Whaaat…..if this is the case, noypis should stop patronizing their restos. My wife goes for take out once in a while, so I’ve never been in a chinese resto in a looooong time.

        The chinese government haven’t apologize to that family of five (four died, mom/dad/2 daughters), a son survived (I believe) five years ago at Tiannamen Square where they were stabbed by a chinese madmen.

        • Frankly, I don’t think the Chinese will be giving a rat’s ass if the hostages were Pinoys, in short Pinoys killing Pinoys. It makes a huge difference when a group of foreigners are held hostage by locals. The Chinese are asking – why us ? Why are we being singled out of the crowd, killed for a reason that has nothing to do with us ? This is the main reason for the indignation.

          Stereotyping can never be eradicated, at least while the news is still fresh in people’s minds. But it will fade over time.

          Now it is the time for Pinas government to show accountability for their actions because the Chinese will never stop until they are satisfied with the investigation.

  9. marrying your dad? LOL! hindi na ko nagbother manuod ng miss U. ewan ko ba, it’s not my thing. sayang no, she could have won, ewan ko ba, ganun siguro talaga. at ayoko na magcomment sa hostage na yan, hmp!

    • I would have replied “marrying your mom” if my daughter asked me the same question hehe πŸ™‚ Maybe should could have won if she answered in Tagalog and allowed the interpreter to embellish her reply in English πŸ˜‰

      No problem if you can’t comment on the hostage crisis. I’ve been trolling the web and read even more ludicrous comments about Nonoy ” mishandling” the crisis, like everything that happens under the Philippine sun is Nonoy’s fault. I don’t know why these commandig officers, five star generals, admirals, chief of staff of the armed forces sit on their fat asses or even exist when they can’t even get this ONE man on a wayward bus. Beats me 😯

  10. I wasn’t aware of the Q&A gaffe in the Ms Universe pageant until two days later. Like TruBlue, my attention was on the hostage taking incident. IMO, it was such an easy question to answer and I think the candidate froze, realizing na hindi kasama sa mga tinuro sa kanya ng mga coach niya yung question, hehehe.

    As for the Luneta tragedy, even in the most successful rescue attempt, odds are high that there will be at least one fatality (whether on rescuers side or hostage), especially in such cramped target like a bus. What irked everyone, methinks, is the way the police were doing, as we say locally, urong-sugod style of approach. So many things were happening (in fact, too many to list down) that day that, when put together, became a recipe for disaster.

    • A coach for the question and answer ? LOL.. that’s funny πŸ™‚

      Clearly the emergency task force team responded poorly and seemed confused on how to deal with the situation. From the reports it seemed that there were too many managers calling the shots and it ended up with the proverbial “too many cooks can spoil the broth” kind of thing. 😦

  11. it’s appropriate for us to take corrective actions for what has happened and apologize… but no need to make hukahog sa lupa…

    quoting a Jessica Zafra:

    “Last night the Philippines was riveted by a hostage drama. This morning the Philippines was riveted by the Miss Universe pageant.

    Are we bipolar yet?

    And yet these disparate events had the same problem.


    • LOL Jeff.. I’ve been grasping for that word πŸ™‚ You’re being too brutally frank but it’s darn hard to prove you wrong πŸ˜‰

  12. I was looking at the YouTube video of the hostage bus. Blimey, when shots were fired from inside the bus, the police and snipers started firing at the general direction of the bus like they were blasting the damn vehicle to smithereens ! Did they ever think of the poor hostages ? I think the police, not the hostage taker killed most of the hostages.

    • I know, it’s so pathetic. That’s what makes people angry. The police were itching to fire at any cost, as if they haven’d had an opportunity to do any target shooting practice for years.

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