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Valentine's Day Bombing

February 14, 2005. It's Dwayne's 5th Death Anniversary today and Valentine's Day as well. I got work today. I woke up at around 7:08 AM and I'm so happy to see all the 15 unread messages in my phone. To my surprise, most messages came from my old friends. I am so glad that they remembered me today. They all greet me a Happy Valentine's. It was thoughtful of them to spend time to send me some messages.

I immediately went to the office as soon as I got dressed. I arrived in the office at around 9:40 AM this day. I had a great class. We were happy with all the activities that we've done. Late in the afternoon, during my lunch break, Jerell dropped by to the office just to say "hi" and "Happy Valentine's". He also handed me three pieces of my favorite "YEMA". Yipee! We went back in the training after the break. My friend, Cheng, suddenly fainted and we were like in a sort of panic. We have no idea what happened to her. It was the reason why it took so long to dismiss the class whereas our training was supposed to be until 7:00 PM only.

It was 7:25 PM when we were dismissed. It was a little late. I had a satisfactory grade results when I last viewed it. My co-workers, Renz & Glenn, accompanied me to walk along Ayala Avenue up to MRT Station. By the time we got there, an unexpected thing happened...

My memories suddenly flashed. I eventually appreciate my life. I am really blessed to be alive... but what if it was really my time today? What if it was meant to be? I was there in the bombing. I saw bodies from almost everywhere. I even saw dead bodies. Three buses were burning. The whole place is in chaos. Am I lucky to be alive? I know for sure that I am supposed to be in that RRCG bus with a route going to Alabang - Pacita. Is it just coincidence that I didn't ride the bus? Am I really just lucky or did I just managed to escape a very near death experience? I don't know. All I know is that... I am blessed. I will never forget this day. If ever I died this very day... Then Dwayne and I would've died in the same day - February 14

:: THE NEWS ::
MANILA, Philippines - Three bombs jolted Manila and two other Philippine cities Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 100 others, police said. The Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the blasts.
The group said the bombings were retribution for a major military offensive against Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, where 60 people have been killed in recent clashes.
"You can attribute this to us," an Abu Sayyaf leader, Abu Solaiman, told DZBB radio 20 minutes after Monday's first two blasts.

"There is one more to come," he said before the Manila bombing.

In a second telephone call, Solaiman said the bombings were a Valentine's Day "gift" to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

National police head Gen. Edgar Aglipay ordered the 114,000-member police force to tighten security in vital installations and commercial establishments nationwide.

"These are despicable acts of terror, and we ask the people to brace themselves against these attacks on our freedom and security," presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.

"We're not going to sleep tonight," added national security adviser Norberto Gonzales.

The Manila bombing occurred about 7:30 p.m. on a bus along a busy highway just below a station for an elevated train and near the Intercontinental Hotel. Police said three people were killed and at least 60 others injured as the bus exploded in flames and sent debris that hit two other buses.

The back of the bus was destroyed by the blast and all of its windows were blown out. The charred body of one passenger was still seated with a hand holding the seat railing. President Arroyo later visited the site.

A blast outside the Gaisano Mall in southern General Santos city about an hour earlier could be heard one mile away, witnesses said. Police said at least five people were killed and at least 36 others injured.

National police chief Edgar Aglipay said the bomb was believed to have been placed in a bag at a stand for three-wheel taxis about 30 yards from the mall entrance.

Another bomb, believed to have been made from a mortar shell, killed a 12-year-old boy and injured at least eight people when it went off almost simultaneously at a bus terminal in Davao, also in the southern Philippines, home to a restive Muslim minority, terror groups and criminal gangs. Mayor Rodrigo called it "the handiwork of terrorists."

Abu Sayyaf leader Solaiman promised more attacks in the future.
"Our latest operations - planned and executed with precision by the gallant warriors of Islam - is our continuing response to the Philippine government's atrocities committed against Muslims everywhere," Solaiman said.

"We will find more ways and means to inflict more harm to your people's lives and properties, and we will not stop unless we get justice for the countless Muslims lives and properties that you people have destroyed."

Officials had expressed concerns over the prospect of a terrorist attack as the military carries out an all-out assault on Jolo island against a group of gunmen who recently attacked troops in the region, sparking clashes that have killed at least 60.

The gunmen are believed to include followers of jailed Muslim leader Nur Misuari, backed by Abu Sayyaf members.

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