It is painful to see the photos of dead men, women and children lying on the ground after a gruesome stampede killed more than 80 people in Manila early Saturday. For some reason, people have risked lives to join a noontime gameshow I got fond of watching during my vacation in the Philippines last December.
I featured the joys of seeing the happy faces of hopeful contestants of Wowowee last December. Even if the host isn’t my favorite, the happiness, if only material, he brings to contestants — winners or losers — is invaluable. For in a country where many citizens live in less than US$2 a day, getting a shot at winning big prizes by answering simple questions is a matter of hard work. Hard work in the sense that one has to overcome the rowdy crowds, discomforts at queues and occassionally the pushing and wrestling with fellow hopefulls before getting into the official list of participants. That’s before they dig their brains or perform wild guesses to questions asked later.
So the road is indeed bumpy to attain those dreams. But Saturday’s gory ending was too much to bear. With one irresponsible prank’s message causing massive commotion, it sowed fear to everyone. Everyone should be afraid. After all, the crowd gathered in the venue ULTRA was hoping to earn something to assure something is on the table and prolong their existence, not take it away.
Relatives looking for their beloved can be seen sobbing while examining the dead. We thought that at the end of the show another lucky person will be added in the rags-to-riches hall of fame.
Many stampedes happened before: football games, bridges falling apart, etc. I guess this is a more sad experience. People did not try to come to Wowowee to enjoy the entertainment; they came to try to see if they can win some money or other giveaways. It’s not just what they want. It is what they need — to survive.