Friday, February 24, 2006

Live: From Ayala Ave!

Yesterday morning: Received under the door of our Unit a note from the building management explaining how traffic would be shut down around the area today due to: "...Makati City hosting a confetti parade and wreath-laying ceremony..." Hey! A parade! Sounds like fun!

After Kendra left for work this morning, I needed to go out to re-load my phone with minutes and to pick up some more groceries, so I prepped myself with my camera bag, fresh batteries and a newly formatted 512 MB CF card, just in case this "confetti parade" proved interesting from a photographers point of view.

Around 10am, Kendra called and said that her senior manager, Andy, had mentioned that this "parade" would be of political design and although the overall attitude would be peacefull, it may be wise for me to stay out of the parade route until it was all over. Just what I need to hear for further incentive for getting to where the action is!

About 30 minutes later, Kendra gets an e-mail from WorldCue, the global business travel agency used by Accenture:

"This alert affects the Philippines: A State of National Emergency has been declared after a foiled coup attempt in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 24. Security situation unsettled. Avoid protests & the Malacanang Palace area.

Authorities have detained at least two military officers who were the alleged ringleaders of a group of disgruntled soldiers and police who intended to join anti-government demonstrations in Metro Manila on Feb. 24 with the apparent intention of inciting a mass uprising. The decree suspends some constitutional rights, but the decision to invoke the order indicates the perceived seriousness of the situation.

It is rare that travelers and expatriates are directly targeted during civil unrest, but they can be targeted if they work at or patronize a business or government that is the direct target of the unrest. People may also be harmed simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures to control crowds."

I get a phone call- it's Kendra, who reads me this message along with a message from my Dad who is laid up at home with the flu and has seen this situation develop on CNN. I'm forbidden (by both of them!) from taking any pictures or from being in the area at all. Andy is concerned for her saftey, seeing that she is a high-profile expat, and will sending her home early with one of the guys to walk her home.

A parade is one thing: rioters, water cannons and tear gas are quite another. (Even as this is prime quality visual human drama, I'm not being paid to put my life on the line for a good shot!). So I head in the direction of home, managing to capture only 2 good images from the gathering Philippine National Police force (See below).

At home, I turn on the local news station to follow the events and see this:
Now this wasn't terribly close to our area, but the plan was for the former President to make her way down Ayala Ave to get to the statue of her murdered husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino -right past Kendra's building. I called her and said it might be a good idea to leave NOW!

As it turns out, as Kendra and her escort Jhude exited the building, the area was becoming thick with people on the street and with military convoys in riot gear setting up barricades.

She arrived home safely and we're watching the events unfold from the confines of our building. It looks as if the thousands of people marching down Ayala and around the statue have been a pretty peaceful bunch, but were glad to not be in the middle of it (we're seeing Kendra's building surrounded by masses of people on the chopper-cam as we speak). We'll see what the next few days bring.


At 11:09 AM, Blogger Dad said...

Just viewed your blog. Thanks for the first-hand reporting. You guys are no doubt aware that Makati was a very central location in the overthrow of Marcos. Was it Aquino's home town? Did you see the "goof" on the CNN headline - should have been Arroyo instead of Aquino. Good to hear you're observing events from a (hopefully safe) distance. Given the continuing opposition to Arroyo, and now that Aquino is in the picture, this is likely to go on for a while but in what forms is anyone's guess. Hang in there and our prayers are with you.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Lame Shrill Owl said...

Did you have any idea that these type of "parades" occured when you signed up to go to Makati?

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