Actually I was stunned. Then disgusted. A bit saddened but more perplexed.
The thought that a thirteen year old boy would travel all the way from Bataan to a mall in Pampanga to gun down a sixteen year old friend then aim the gun at himself is too incredible to believe. Even the most convoluted plots on formula-laden telenovelas would not even dream of incorporating such a scene. This is certainly not a scene from Tween Hearts or Growing Up.
What was worse was that it happened in real life.
There are no fake explosives, Karo syrup mixed with food coloring pretending as blood. What confronted us was brutal reality. A kid gunned down his lover in a fit of jealousy. There are no answers here. Just too many questions.
Now the issue has been whittled down into seemingly basic issues: homosexuality and the lax security in malls to allow this boy to just walk in carrying an illegal firearm without being noticed at the entrances by the security guards.
It is easy for others to use the issue of homosexuality as the root cause for this unlikely scenario.
A thirteen year old leaves a suicide note suggesting jealousy over an affair with a boy three years older who was planning to leave for Japan to pursue a course in hairdressing as the reason behind this carnage.
There are those who reacted to this information with disgust: there are those who blamed the so-called liberal thinking --- or what the ultra-conservatives insist as the rule of immorality or amorality responsible for the deterioration of the world's sense of right from wrong. Despite the growing trend towards mutual respect and healthy tolerance for the choices made in alternative lifestyles, incidences such as these are used as proof that same-sex relationships still point to aberrant behavior. Which is more perverse? Kids killing each other ... or young men of that age having homosexual affairs that could lead to murder.
But then again, how could one account for another version of the same incident that happened in the same chain of malls just a few days earlier? The cast of characters in that plot could have been straight from the set of Face to Face.
A wife gunned down her husband who worked as a security guard also out of spite and jealousy. She also accidentally killed another security guard trying to grab her weapon.
I, together with so many, now wonder if the previous mall attack could have inspired or given ideas to this impressionable boy to have the gall and the courage to kill in the name of love. But that is making it all too simplistic. It takes a lot of guts to pack a gun and put to mind that you are going to end another human life. It takes more than just ... a moment of borrowed inspiration. There must have been some demented grand design somewhere there.
There is more to it than just homosexuality or another cliche crime of passion.
Regardless of the sexual orientation of the teener, what can possibly drive someone so young to such acts of destruction and violence? Is it possible that the very environment he lives in has blurred his sense of reason or even warped his priorities and perception of what is truly important in his life?
A Facebook thread offered a very disturbing question: is it possible that media has played a role in distorting the values of young people to lead them to over-the-top emotionalism and a hunger for ultimate acts of drama for the sake public attention or impact?
Could all these shows that always highlight the affirmation of a young person's identity by his or her ability to have a partner to deem him or her worthy of existence push kids to mature much faster than their minds can possibly fathom? Better yet, is that maturity? If so, what kind of maturation is that?
I have heard my parents say that during my time: kids are too much in a hurry to be grown-up only to realize that being an adult isn't such a big thing. When you get there, you wonder how the hell you can get back all the fun and innocence you wanted to shed off too easily when you were much younger.
Well, now that I am of the age of parents I have come to realize that things have become worse nowadays.
With media and access to the internet available to everyone, the process of maturation has completely changed --- if not accelerated at breakneck pace. Change in the world today has become reckless and there is no stopping the endless shifts of trends and fashions. Media and the worldwide web play major roles in the everyday lives of almost everyone especially the young. What kids see and hear and absorb shape how they think, feel and react to circumstances in their awkward developmental years.
As long as media insists that you are only as good as you are accepted by someone who you choose to love or find attraction, then everything else centers on hastened if not misguided sexuality. Watching television programs that star young actors barely out of puberty centering their entire existence on gratifying their needs to be noticed and loved by their puppy loves and crushes send very definite signals to their target audience. Rejection does not teach lessons but only point to failure --- and therefore unworthiness.
Worse, seldom do these shows catering to kids ever underline the true value of education ... and the need to be informed and educated. Everything is about kilig. The settings may be schools but all these kids just want to have their first taste of being screwed --- so is it no wonder that they all end being somewhat screwed-up. And we call all this cute.
Add the manner by which reactions are pushed to excessive proportions (all that sampalan, sigawan, hagulgulan, tilian, ngawngawan, murahan and even ... yes, patayan and pagpapakamartir) and you more or less get an idea of how Filipinos are being conditioned to react to their problems.
In the arena of media where reality and entertainment have fused to be one and the same, how are we to distinguish what is merely scripted and make-believe from what is happening in real life? Reality has become entertainment --- and kids sometimes feel that their lives are actually manipulated and dictated by hidden cameras.
Every segment of your life can be uploaded to YouTube. Every millisecond of one's activities --- from waking up, to what food you eat, to who you see and what you feel can be tweeted. One's life has become The Truman Show because we no longer believe in privacy but demand our moments of fame and infamy.
So now we have this. A thirteen year old kid kills his sixteen year old lover then shoots himself.
For the record, he gave everyone fair warning. He posted messages in Facebook about his plans of action. It is all part of what he thought was the plot meted out for his life. In such a world, there can be no room for innocence ... or growing up. There can only be dramatic endings to be remembered.