(PGMA visits and shops at Glorietta 2, the site of the deadly bombing, just 4 days after the incident.)
To project that malls are perfectly safe to visit these days, PGMA dropped by to inspect and shop at the Glorietta shopping mall complex yesterday 23 Oct 2007. The message the government strongly and loudly wants to bring forth is that it is "business as usual." Meanwhile, the underlying and real message of this brave act is this, "mindless middle-class herd, go back to your senseless shopping and window-shopping, please."
Funny, but this scene reminds me of the time when Thaksin Shinatwara, erstwhile Prime Minister of Thailand (he was unexpectedly booted out by the military) forced his ministers to eat fried chickens when the predominantly Buddhist country was ravaged by the bird flu virus. During that period, Thaksin didn't want to admit that Thailand was hit by the dreaded bird disease despite suspicious massive death of chickens in their countryside. He was adamant that the chickens died by some other disease aside and not the fatal bird flu strain. So to prove his point, he made a show of eating fried chickens publicly together with his government ministers. However, a few weeks or months later, he did admit the truth. Thailand was indeed hit by the bird flu virus, and subsequent human deaths were reported as a result of the deadly bird strain. What was going on the head of those ministers when they willingly smiled at cameras and muched those potentially life-threathening fried chickens? I can only wonder. I reckon they were forced by Thaksin to chomp those crispy fried chickens and didn't much have of a choice given that their jobs were on the line but still, what could have they been thinking?
I, myself, dropped by at the Glorietta the day PGMA arrived there. Forced by the relentless rain to the take the FX taxi bound to Landmark, I found the Glorietta mall virtually empty. The usually jampacked restaurants had only a few diners here and there. People are still obviously scared over what happened and cannot be fooled by assurances that everything is fine and dandy again. Around this time, teeming with eager early Christmas shoppers, the Glorietta shopping mall complex is almost always filled to the brim. But now, the place is unusually cold and desolate-looking. It still has a pungent smell which is perhaps caused by the unexpexted blast. Things will never be the same again. Business will never be the same as usual. No matter the amount of cajoling from government officials, including the president, I will never ever forget what took place on that unfortunate Friday afternoon. The lapse of security measures means that Glorietta can be targeted again and again. Although it is highly unlikely that it will be a target again anytime soon as the principle of "lightning not striking the same area twice" generally applies, still it is "better to be safe than sorry."