In the last few days, I have been trying to ignore all political or politically motivated statements about the stampede in Ultra. These do not only cheapen the lives needlessly lost last Saturday; by forcefitting reality into ideology or short-term political strategy, these also trivialize the desires, the simple dreams, that drove some 50,000 to line up outside Ultra for many hours or several days.
My main reaction to the tragedy (in these parlous times, as the Inquirer editorial on Sunday phrased it, a tragedy is something eminently avoidable) was shaped by the hour or so I spent driving from the Media Nation summit in Clark to the Inquirer office in Makati, in the early afternoon. I listened the entire time to radio reports, on dzMM and dzBB, and for a few minutes even dzRH and RMN, which covered the developing story. I was struck most forcefully by the litany of women’s names that streamed out of the radio, the names of those already confirmed dead. Except for one Ruffa and the occasional Americanized name (such as Elizabeth), many were, could only have been, names of old women: Ofelia, Dolores, Rosalinda (this was the name that kept ringing in my ear).
Seeing politicians sink their rhetorical hooks into these flesh-and-blood names makes me sick.