I wonder why people jump to conclusions far too quickly. I first read about the melee at a golf course in Antipolo that the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform Nasser Pangandaman figured in from a tabloid. Yep, I read the tabloids because I like my news unsanitized. There’s something about this kind of journalism that pumps my blood. But that’s another story.
So, I read, well, more of scanned, the story. I wasn’t particularly interested in people fighting in some fancy place when there are lots of more interesting stories to read about, like Hayden Kho’s homemade porn story for one–err–well, yeah, and a lot more. Indeed the news about a DAR bigwig’s son who happens to be a mayor of a town in Mindanao accused of mauling someone in a clubhouse was a tad too distracting–not the kind of distraction that one would most likely appreciate on a holiday where everything is splashed with a frenzy of eating, catching up and lazing away.
Where was I? Oh, the messy golf fight. And I thought they only do those messy ones in clubs not entirely related to golf. Oh well. So, I scanned the story. And I figured, yeah, the Pangandamans did it. Why? They’re powerful. They had bodyguards. They had guns. They did it. They’re Muslims after all.
Then I see Mr. Delfin dela Paz sporting a seemingly rehearsed agonized look on TV every newsflash or two. I cringe. There’s something about this guy and with what he has been saying that simply don’t add up.
Then I see another glimpse of Sec. Pangandaman and his son. Glimpse. Because they didn’t really stay that long in front of the cameras. Something about them made me want to know the three sides of the story: that of the Dela Pazes, that of the Pangandamans, and the truth.
So I read Bambee dela Paz’s heartwrenching blog entry.
The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch. Apparently not [sic]. He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight. My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head…”Sorry na po, sorry na po…tama na…tama na po…” With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.
Pretty telenovelaisc huh. It sounds very persuasive. So true. So real.
There’s something about too much drama that puts me off, really.
Now, the other side of the story. As the writer of the blog entry said,
I am posting the incident that happened at the south course of Valley Golf and Country Club that fateful day of December 26, 2008 between the families of Pangandaman and dela Paz. But this is not Delfin’s and his children’s side; I am retelling the details of the incident here on behalf of the Pangandamans.
Not a first-hand account. Not really reliable but it provided a significant piece of the puzzle.
And now the so-called recap from the so-called independent investigators of the case.
Look, I’m guilty of jumping into conclusions because the Pangandamans are moneyed, in power and Muslims. I have always been quick to object when people tend to generalize Muslims as evil, bad and ill-mannered. I come from a place where they live peacefully as traders. In grade school, I was friends with kids who taught me languages that amused my parents at home. We may have drifted apart because we lost contact through the years but I have none in my memory lane that can support the idea that they are not good people. I have learned to respect those who are different from I am. But whether we admit it or not, we have been marred by society’s prejudice. And so every now and then, I unconsciously succumb to the same prejudiced thinking. I don’t want to justify it but we are not entirely blameworthy. The exploits of the Abu Sayyaf, the September 11 bombings in the US and all others are not really helping, are they? But trust me, it’s not something that I am proud of and every time I can, I try to work on it because deep inside me I know that they do not have the monopoly of being bad.
Having said that, I believe we have just judged the Pangandamans right away because of that. I’m sure no one would admit so. I would. I’m sure in one of those unguarded moments, most of us have either uttered or thought of something about them being guilty because they are Muslims. Because Muslims can be really fierce–as if non-Muslims don’t get ferocious and reckless in the heat of the moment as well.
I’m not saying that they are not guilty. But knowing that they have guns, small ones and big ones, and the fact that they practically outnumbered the dela Pazes, I can only surmise that the restraint that they summoned at that time is way beyond commendable. I mean, let’s face it. If they wanted to hurt the dela Pazes, they could have done more damage than what has been reported. And if they wanted to hurt the dela Pazes, why did Hussein, Nasser Pangandaman Sr.’s other son suffer serious injuries as well? They were obviously with their so-called goons. So why didn’t they let them do the dirty work? I was moved at the fact that he got involved in the scuffle when the older dela Paz poked his brother with an umbrella.
Come to think of it, the 14-year-old dela Paz hit Hussein with a driver. If it were in defense, it wouldn’t have fractured the latter’s hand. And this Bambee girl who has become an overnight sensation because of her tearjerker of a blog entry, didn’t she figure in the fight as well? Yeah, she defended her dad but how come they never asked the people around them for help? Or just pull her dad out with all her might? Or shield him with her own body? Come on, the normal first move for someone’s companion who has been allegedly mauled is to try to stop the fight, scream or even go between the assailant and the loved one. Something simply does not add up. And her story, albeit really poignant the first time you read it, has far too many holes in it.
I am annoyed at how the ages of the older dela Paz and his son are seemingly used to portray them as the underdog. A 14-year old kid with a good swing is not entirely incapable of doing any damage. We’ve heard of 8 year olds and 11 year olds who go on shooting frenzy and kill many of their friends in school in cold blood. I have 8 nephews and nieces. I know what kids younger than 14 can do. My mom’s 71. She still kicks my ass in a lot of things. My dad, at 74, in his paralyzed condition can still make me feel bad about a million and one things. And 5-10 years ago, he was still a “terror” in some ways.
But really, what did the golf course’s security people and management do? I’m sure they didn’t expect such a ruckus to ensue but hey, in this day and age, anything can happen, like wives in their housedresses who storm in with knives from the other side of the fence, for instance.
It’s so easy to say that the Pangandamans have the moral ascendancy because they are public figures. The same way we look disapprovingly at celebrities who do not smile at their fans after a long day of film shoot, or get annoyed at paparazzi. The same way we look disapprovingly at clergymen who show some weaker human sides. Just because they have certain labels and positions in public does not mean they have lost their humanity. Of course hurting other people is bad, whether one is a public figure or not. All I’m saying is, nobody’s perfect and as much as we want everybody to be close to perfection, there are certain reactions and stimuli that we simply can’t control all the time.
I want to know the truth. I may lean towards the Pangandamans now but I still want to know what really happened. And when the dust clears, I want to see the right thing done.
Yeah, I got hooked on this sappy melodrama as well. And no, it doesn’t really affect me directly. However, the idea that every now and then I jump into conclusions because of my own biases or whatnots bothers me a whole lot. It tells me of the kind of influence my surroundings has on me. And looking at it from a different angle, it really doesn’t look too nice.