WANG-wang, a Filipino slang word, is the siren used by ambulances and fire trucks for emergencies, and by the police for special occasions. Not anymore.

Today, “wang-wang” has become synonymous with the corrupted mentality of Filipinos and a symbol of abusive government officials.

I am aware that corruption is rampant in our country. I always hear about it in the evening news programs on TV, read about it in the papers, or on the Internet. It’s saddening to discover all these news on corruption every time. Later, I found out that it’s saddening and maddening at the same time, when you actually experience it.

It was a sunny morning back in late August, my boyfriend picked me up from Makati so we could go to school together, since we had the same schedule and our schools were in the same vicinity. It was around 8 a.m. and rush hour traffic was starting to get heavy in the Manila area. As we approached the corner of San Andres Street about to turn right to Osmeña Highway, a bronze-colored and heavily-tinted Ford Expedition, with a plate number that wasn’t green and that started in “J,” cut ahead of us. As a driver’s instinct, my boyfriend blew his horn.

This act seemed to have burst the bubble of the Ford Expedition’s driver. When we finally got to turn to Osmeña Highway, the Ford steered parallel to our car. The tinted window was rolled down, revealing a dark-skinned guy wearing sunglasses and big rings who looked arrogantly at us.

We immediately thought that the man might be a government-related person or a policeman judging by his get-up and attitude.

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Finally, when the stoplights turned green in his lane, off he went, about to turn right at the intersecting Quirino Highway.

But wait, he stopped, stepped out, and unexpectedly walked towards us, who were waiting for our lane’s green light.

The man looked probably around late 40’s, plump and not very tall, sported a haircut that didn’t look stylish, and a black polo shirt with “Aguilar” embroidered on the chest in yellow letters. If it were a classic Filipino action movie, he would automatically be identified as the villain.

My heart pounded as he knocked hard on our driver’s window with an open palm, his thick rings hitting the glass.

I wished my boyfriend didn’t roll the windows down, but as soon as he did, the man started blabbing angrily at us. He pointed his fingers and threw cuss words at us in Tagalog and told us, “’Di n’yo kilala kung sino binabangga niyo!”

The next words that escaped his lips terrified me and I will never forget that that incident ever happened. He told us, “Putukan ko kayo diyan eh!” and repeated it.

Worse, he had his silver gun tucked right in his belt.

We couldn’t believe it—the stranger had just threatened to shoot us in broad daylight in the middle of a highway full of civilians. That was the first time, in my 20 years of existence that I had actually experienced abuse from a “man of power.”

Later that day I tried to report the incident: I related the incident to a friend whose father works in the army. I also texted the National Capital Region Police Office’s “Subukan N’yo Po Kami” quick police response text program—I got no reply.

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To this day, we don’t know if that man was a policeman, a government worker, a body guard, a mafia man, or just a nobody. In the end, the incident just passed us and an injustice was perpetuated.

This is the sad reality. People who think they are “up there” abuse these powers. The victims don’t get readers of grievance. If they do seek it, they are either ignored or threatened.

No matter how many times PNoy says it in his speeches, the wang-wang state of mind will not be cured anytime soon. This state of mind does not only infect government officials, but applies to anyone. We won’t be safe if people just pull out their guns and threaten to kill when they want to. Nothing’s going to be accomplished if people think greedily and want to get ahead of everyone else.

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