[For a news report, click here]
Tragic events always reveal what stuff people are made of. All those directly or indirectly involved in and even those affected and unaffected by these occurrences -- be they bystanders and kibitzers, looters and scoffers, rescue workers and other volunteers, victims and sympathizers -- show by their verbal and non-verbal reactions the value systems and worldview they adhere to.
The UB tragedy has given us another peek into human nature through the various reactions of people to it.
Stories of heroism have started to be told, like this account of a working student named Jao de Leon who was assigned to the College of Liberal Arts. Instead of immediately scampering away to safety when the blaze erupted, he chose to stay on for a while to secure the Dean's office and to salvage some office equipment. Thankfully, although he ended up blackened and perhaps almost suffocated by the billowing smoke, he was able to save himself after performing his duty.
Then there were accounts of volunteerism and generosity primarily exemplified by the owners of Sunshine Supermarket who were said to have been among the first ones to respond to the emergency call by sending their own firetruck to the fire scene. Without being asked, they also sent in that afternoon a load of food for the volunteers.
Sadly, there were also accounts of villainy or callousness. Reports of a faculty member's missing laptop and some other school equipment's unexplained disappearance seemed to evidence small-scale looting. Unsavory comments have also been made via text message and other media making fun of the UB Family's troubles. It is sad to note that while we Filipinos are known for our resilience in times of tests primarily due to our sense of humor, many of us are also known for our unbridled feasting upon the misfortune of others.
The heroes in this incident deserve our kudos; the kotrabidas, our katós!