JMSC Students, Alumni and Staff Report on Manila Hostage Crisis

JMSC students, alumni and staff have been reporting on the recent hostage crisis in the Philippines.

On August 23, 2010, a sacked police captain in the Philippines, Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a tourist bus in Manila demanding his job back. After an 11 hour ordeal, he shot dead eight Hong Kong tourists before a police sniper killed him.

The news story made regional and global headlines.

Lorea Solabarrieta

Lorea Solabarrieta graduated from the Master of Journalism programme this summer.

She is now a correspondent for CCTV News in Hong Kong.

Solabarrieta has been doing live reports and news packages about the hijacking.

Master of Journalism student, Francis Wong, writes for the Ecumenical News International (ENI), a global news service reporting on church news.

ENI distributes religious news in English and French electronically to international and religious media, church leaders and organisations and to others who are interested. Wong wrote about how churches in Hong Kong and the Philippines are calling for forgiveness to prevent any hostility between the two communities.

He also wrote a piece for the trans-denominational Christian newspaper, Christian Today.

“In times of sorrow and anger, spirituality helps one to face these emotions positively, and reconcile with oneself and others,” Wong said.

Lorraine Lui, a current Year 3 BJ student, is interning at the Associated Press Television Hong Kong bureau. She has been assisting their news coverage of the event, attending rallies in remembrance of the victims and press conferences.

She was also at Tuen Mun hospital when a teenage survivor was rushed there for treatment on arrival back in Hong Kong, and was part of the press crew waiting on the airport tarmac when the victims’ bodies were returned to the city.

Alex Hofford

Alex Hofford, a current Master of Journalism student, is also a freelance photographer working in Hong Kong. He works for many clients including the wire agency European Pressphoto Agency (EPA).

“The Philippine bus hijack story touches on many important issues such as race, security and tourism,” said Hofford.

“It’s also an important story in terms of the regional power politics being played out between China and the Philippines. And, in turn, it is defining Hong Kong’s role (or lack of one) in regional diplomacy.”

Mabel Sieh

Mabel Sieh graduated from the part-time JMSC’s Postgraduate Diploma programme in 2004. She is now a reporter for the Young Post, the youth section of the South China Morning Post.

“The first morning after the event, with the help of our interns, we interviewed teenagers and students and also went on their Facebook groups to get their feedback,” said Sieh.

“As the main paper has run extensive pages on the incident, my goal is not to repeat the stories but to focus on the perspective of young people, that is the readers of Young Post. This is an example of writing with your readers in mind.”

Alex Hofford's photo of protesters in Hong Kong

Kevin Drew, an Honorary Lecturer at the JMSC and a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong, has also been covering the story for the paper.

“The story of the tourists’ deaths in Manila touched on several interesting themes: issues within the Manila police force and the first major test, domestically and internationally, for newly elected Philippines President Benigno Aquino III,” said Drew.

“Hong Kong citizens’ reactions to the shootings also was noteworthy – including reaction by residents, local media and the national government in Beijing.”

Another Honorary Lecturer, Rob McBride reports regularly for Al Jazeera English from Hong Kong.

“I think what makes it such a huge story is how universally tragic it was,” said McBride.

“We’ve all been on buses like that enjoying the delights of a city tour, and then to find yourself confronted with the horror of a man with an M-16 assault rifle, is the stuff of nightmares. Filming the return to Hong Kong of the coffins and seeing the grief of the victims’ relatives was heart-wrenching. I know I cried filming it, and there were a lot of other snuffles from the photographers with long lenses either side of me.”