26 January 2013

the scariest moment of my life! :(

And it happened two hours ago (7:40pm GMT+8). Our family of 4 had just finished dinner in the basement area of SM Megamall and was waiting for our bill. I was facing the entrance of Mannang / Mann Hann restaurant when I noticed that a lot of people were running toward the stores. I thought there was a celebrity but the running was frantic, and the security guards were also running (to the direction of the incident). I told hubby to look; the restaurant staff and the other customers noticed the commotion too. We got up to get our credit card from the counter so we can go out of the mall before something bad happens.


But then suddenly a waiter pulled down the metal door of the restaurant and we were in lockdown (pic at right). The diners were in panic mode, and we moved to the back of the resto, near the kitchen and waited for some news of what's happening. That moment I hated Globe / Blackberry coz I had no internet connection (on top of my postpaid plan, I had to subscribe to a BB internet plan which will raise my phone bill 100% and I couldn't afford it). I felt so helpless coz I cannot get any info! What if the people were running because there's a fire and we were trapped inside the restaurant?! You can't make the right survival choices without information :(


I did the next best thing and called my family to watch the news. As expected there was no news on traditional media. My brothers checked Twitter and found out there's an ongoing shooting incident. I heaved a sigh of relief, thankful it wasn't fire.

https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=megamall
https://twitter.com/gmanews/status/295136344798277632

I was relaxing at this point (10min into the incident) when there was a second wave of people running. We backed up to the kitchen area once again (pic at left). I overheard some diners saying that the incident was in the third or fourth floor of the mall, and that it was in Building B (we were in Building A). That was good news coz we were far from the shooting incident. However I cannot vouch for its veracity. For all I know the shooting was on our building AND our floor.


After 10 more minutes or so, Mann Hann finally opened its metal door and I told hubby we should go out to the nearest exit (on the first floor, facing St Francis Street) while there were lots of people going out too. They can provide cover from bullets in case we'll meet the shooters. Yeah, me thinking of using the other humans for shields. Ruthless mommy. Adrenaline does that to a protective parent. As we were going out, we noticed all the other stores were also closed, with lots of people hiding inside.

And just like that, we were out of SM Megamall. There were lots of people milling around outside and traffic was heavy. There was a SWAT (!!!) vehicle, an ambulance, and police cars. It was surreal. Hubby and I walked fast to our home. As we were getting past Building B (where the supposed shooting incident happened), people suddenly came running out to the streets. My heart was hammering so hard and told hubby to run away from SM as fast as we could. After 5 minutes of walking fast, we were finally home. Safe. There was still no news on TV about the incident but I found on +Rappler.com that it was a jewelry robbery incident on the first floor of Building B. The mall is currently back to normal operations per their Twitter account.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/20496-shooting-in-megamall-mmda https://twitter.com/smsupermalls/status/295153762002157568

So what just happened? I can't believe that five armed men go were able to go inside the mall without raising alarms! As a parent, I'm really, really angry about this. One of the reasons why we go to malls (instead of parks / open areas) for recreation is because of security. Well, the bubble just burst :( I told hubby that maybe the robbers were in cosplay outfits (there was a cosplay convention on the fifth floor of Building B which we saw a bit before we had dinner) and the mall entrance guards must have thought that the robbers' guns were part of their costumes. Still not a good excuse.

There's a lot of questions in my mind. And I have lots of analysis to do (e.g. what to do in emergency situations -- stay put or fight or flight?). But right now I'm just thankful that the Lord protected my family and all the other people in SM Megamall (there was no casualty). And I am very thankful we are safe at home. It's bedtime in our studio unit at this moment, and the "situation" to resolve right now is putting the kids to bed. Routine. Normal. Safe. And that's all I ever want.

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This post was originally posted in my Google+ account:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/106986862578384105925/posts/3AyD7JoFoqk
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