BOMB!

“Did Ayala Malls and SM Corp have a major disagreement, and that’s why they closed their bridgeway?” I asked myself in disbelief as I confronted the wall of steel blocking my way through the glass doors to Glorietta. I had just enjoyed a quick (and late) lunch at McDonald’s in SM Makati and was supposed to wend my way through Glorietta and Greenbelt before crossing Ayala Avenue on my way to the Living Asia office. I shrugged my shoulders and took an escalator down, hoping to enter Glorietta at the ground level.

As I started to exit SM, I noticed a whole lot of people just standing in front of Glorietta’s entrance. The mall’s interiors were dimly lit and the establishments inside looked closed. My stomach churned as I started to catch whispers of explosions and bombs.

Because the establishments on the perimeter of Glorietta were open, I stepped inside a Mercury Drug and asked the guard why the mall was closed. “May sumabog sa loob (Something exploded inside [the mall]),” he explained. “May patay (Someone died).”

Kailan nangyari? (When did it happen?)” I asked, feeling my lunch start to rise into my throat.

Mga 1:30 (At 1:30),” he informed me.

I walked toward Glorietta Park where several small groups of people had gathered into their own small circles gazing up at the mall’s facade. I took out my cellphone and found my parents and sister had gone nuts texting and calling me asking me to avoid Glorietta because a bomb had gone off there. And boy, did I know it. Between taking their calls and sending text messages back, I took some photos and video of the organized chaos in front of Glorietta and noted the helicopter making repeated runs in the airspace overhead.

lots of people fronting Glorietta

As I walked down Ayala Avenue and crossed toward the Makati Stock Exchange, I was walking with a group of people that included a young couple and their daughter. The father was carrying the little girl and the couple tried their best to be calm around her. Then, as we reached the Stock Exchange, the father passed their daughter into the mother’s arms as he walked inside a bank. The little girl asked the mother something, to which she replied, “E diba may sumabog sa Glorietta? Hindi ba katabi natin yun? (Didn’t something explode in Glorietta? Weren’t we standing next to it?)” I took a closer look at them. They were carrying hardly anything, and the daughter was sock-footed and holding her sole shoe in her hand.

mother carrying her daughter away

I had arrived at SM some time around 2:20pm. An MMDA truck and the ever-vigilant media (represented by ABS-CBN News) already were parked out front. The SOCO police van arrived just as I was walking away from the scene, continuing on my way. They — and I — had only missed the explosion by an hour.

SOCO arrives one hour after the explosion

I’d been delayed in my trip to Makati because of a traffic jam at Ortigas when I dropped my sister off at her meeting in Megamall, unaware that a 3-day sale had commenced today. Then, I had chosen to park in Shangri-La Mall and took the MRT from Shaw Station to Ayala Station, which connected into SM Makati. I had been so overcome by hunger that I chose to eat first before continuing into Glorietta. So I couldn’t help feeling like I’d been saved by the skin of my teeth from peril, however remote it now felt. Thank God!

UPDATE 4pm: It was a bomb, according to the police.

I’ll have photos and video up when I get home. I’m posting this from a computer workstation at the Fitness First in Makati.

UPDATE 7pm: Photos are now up. And MLQ3 has referenced this post, as well as my friend Joanne’s Multiply blog post.

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2 thoughts on “BOMB!

  • October 23, 2007 at 10:45 am
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    Oh Noelle! That’s awful. I’ve heard from a friend who grew up in the Philipines and whose sister is still there that violence has gotten worse there lately, so I’ve been praying for you more often. I’m so glad you are safe. I hope the little girl in the picture above will be okay. That’s hard to forget.

    Julie

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  • October 23, 2007 at 10:51 am
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    Thanks for the prayers, Julie. There’s a general sense that Metro Manila as a city has become more dangerous over time, but violence exists in pockets. We mostly go through life getting reports of remote happenings — at least until a major thing happens like this, where a huge number of people are affected.

    Reply

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