Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bombing in Manila

Yes, there was a bombing in Manila at the Parliament building the evening we arrived. It was (they think) targeted at the congressman that was killed in the blast, along with his driver. He represented the very south of the country where there is unrest due to Muslim extremist groups that are supposedly linked to Al Quaida. This kind of attack is rare in Manila…the southern islands, where there are recent conflicts, are a thousand miles from here. As far as our safety goes, I feel as safe as I would in any other big city. There’s no reason to think that any of the locations where we spend our days (mostly the slums and poor villages where our service sites are) would be targeted in any way. We take all the precautions we can for personal safety (like traveling in at least pairs, communicating when we plan to arrive certain places, etc.) and that’s all we can do. Ana pointed out the extra security in the city today in malls and buildings in the downtown financial district... a precautionary measure that gives some sense of security, though who knows how effective it is.

The interesting part is the perspective that Paul Whitaker, the long-time Up with People guru who has planned the last two Thai tours, our current tour, and is working on next semester’s Thai tour, offers. He explains that the travel cautionary list put out by the US and other state departments, of which the Philippines is on, is more political than it is about safety. When the last casts were in Thailand, there were bombings in Bangkok and a coup of the government. BUT the words “Al Quaida” are nowhere near this unrest in Thailand, so it hasn’t shown up on the US’ watch list. So it is not about the frequency of attacks or the risk to civilians (which is what I would think they would consider in their ratings), but rather how close the groups are to the biggest media attention “bad guys” in our world today.


Ms. Specht said...

I really like this entry, it give me an unique perspective on the political "tone" of the country, something that I find incredibly important to determine when traveling.

Laurel Lee said...

ELLEN AND SCOTT!!!! thanks for the comment! I am still waiting to have the surgery due to available doctors and needing the swelling to go down. It should happen this week though. Scott. I cant thank you enough for all your support at the hospital! I hope I get to see you both again someday and I hope Manila is everything you hoped for!