How many children need to lose a father? How many wives need to be widowed? How many fathers need to bury a son? How many more motherís need to suffer the loss of a child before something is done about these gun-wielding Neanderthals that overcompensate for their gender insecurities with big weapons just to prove their manhood? If you ask the family of Mike Llorin, one life is already far too many; too large a price to pay; too deep a pain to endure.
Last Sunday, November 13, 2005, marked the first year death anniversary of Mike Llorin, a dedicated father and husband that shared his passion for motoring through his exceptional photographs in C! Magazine.
Mike was attending a car club meeting in Quezon City on November 13, 2004, when he was gunned down for doing nothing wrong except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although the details remain sketchy, eyewitnesses recount that while the members of Grupo Toyota were chilling out at the outdoor tables of the Shell Select store swapping car stories and planning their next big event, two Honda Civics went racing past and appeared to have been involved in some sort of a traffic altercation with the driver of the Green Mitsubishi Pajero that was giving chase. Failing to catch them, the coward in the Pajero then made a U-turn and cruised past the crowded Shell service station in Congressional Ave, where Mike and his group were hanging out, and fired off a handful of shots from his firearm. One of those shots hit Mike in the head. He died instantly.
One year on, nobody has been charged for the crime.
Sadly, in situations like this, our lawmen have become so intimidated by these thugs that they simply turn a blind eye. Or, in many cases, because of some of these super-brat's social or political status, cops are left powerless to enforce anyway. It is no secret that a lot of the repeat offenders are already known by the authorities. Iím not condemning all gun owners, of course. I happen to know some very responsible ones. What Iím saying is that there is a brand of morally corrupt individuals riddled with unresolved post pubescent insecurities that are tarnishing the image of the majority with the blood of innocent victims.
If you have legitimate security concerns or you are a prime target for kidnapping, then fine Ė hire a (discreet) security force. But then, if that were the case, I guess itís fair to assume that youíre most likely not driving yourself around, which cushions you from the trivial travel irritations and reduces the road rage factor significantly. For those of you who are not chauffeured, please, do yourself and the rest of the world a favor and remove the temptation of carrying a gun. Itís only a matter of time before the combination of our bad roads, bad drivers, and that loaded weapon leads to disaster. Itís a fatal cocktail just waiting to be served cold by the side of the road over a deadly game of Russian roulette.
Let me ask you something. How many times have you been vulgarly cut off by a smoke belching bus? Or held up behind a glue-sniffing Jeepney driver that parks smack bang in the middle of the road loading and unloading passengers and stays there long enough to claim squatting rights? As sad as it is, and as illegal as it may be, this is part and parcel of driving in the Philippines. Now think about it, and be perfectly honest with yourself: if in situations like this you carried a loaded handgun in your car, wouldnít you approach the situation a lot differently? More brazenly, with a false sense of confidence, perhaps? Now, even taking into consideration the fact that those of you that read this column are decent upstanding members of our law-abiding society, how many of you out there still might have gotten angry enough to have actually used the weapon? Whether to maim, kill or just intimidate. Flash back now Ė does it seem that important now? Worth dying for?
I recall my own experience last year when I innocently went to overtake a beaten up old pick up on the service road leading to Merville and had a gun pulled on me. There was no 'incident' to speak of, the driver just didn't like the thought of being passed. It seemed that whatever his piece of crap lacked in horsepower, he felt he could make up with gunpowder. I locked up my brakes, filling up my wheel wells with thick, white smoke and tried to put as many cars in between me and Cro-Magnon man. The lunatic even had the audacity to park his car down the road and got out to wait for me. Luckily, because he was dumb enough to set up his ambush just after a turn off, I dived into the side street and kept moving. To think I had my four year old son with me.
Now give me one good reason why this guy had to do that. Forget it, donít strain yourself, there is no valid reason. And thatís the problem. This is the brand of pig-headed insolence Iím referring to Ė they need no reason, they just feel itís their birthright because they were born with small genitals.
My brother had a disturbing encounter with the driver of a Kia Pride, that in hindsight was funny, but at the time could have ended in tragedy. It was just after a heavy downpour and the roads were still left with large puddles. The driver of the Pride was smoking his lungs out with his window down when my brother went by him. Just as he got exactly along side, my brother's right front wheel dropped into a large pothole that was concealed by the standing water and unloaded a huge splash of water directly into the open window of the Pride, extinguishing the driver's lit cigarette and drenching the cabin in the process.
The Pride gave chase, which in itself is already a funny thought. My brother was obviously sorry about drenching the driver, but it was totally unintentional and while he would have been more than happy to apologize, he could see from the behaviour of the car being driven, that this guy wanted blood. A high speed (by congested, wet road condition standards) chase ensued. Just down the road was a stoplight banked up with cars. My brother had nowhere to go. He eventually let the guy get right by him and he sandwiched him by getting close enough that the driver could not open his door wide enough to get out. He bashed his door against the side of my brothers car but was unable to alight from his car. It bought just enough time for the light to turn green and my brother was finally able to break away.
All humor aside, these types of stories are plentiful. I'm sure each and every one of you reading this right now has their own harrowing tale to tell. And thats just it - our roads can be a very dangerous place. Keep a cool head. Pride and testosterone have no place on our streets. This goes for both men and women. At the end of the day, if youíve widowed a young mother; taken a son prematurely away from his parents and forced three young children to grow up without a father, does it really matter who overtook who, who cut who off, or whoís lane it was to begin with? Try explaining that to the grieving family. Or God.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the family of Mike Llorin on his first year death anniversary.