By Vanessa Marjudio, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Oct. 24, 2014
OTTAWA – For a city not accustomed to terrorism, Wednesday’s shooting came as a shock to everyone.
A soldier on ceremonial duty at the National War Memorial was killed, Parliament Hill was stormed by a gunman, and Downtown Ottawa spent the day in lockdown.
Shortly after the shooting, much of Ottawa was in lockdown, including government offices, schools and malls. Phone networks were down as many people were trying to contact their families.
“We saw tactical units going up on the roof. It was surreal,” said Gracie Ramos. “People were like, ‘we feel like we’re in Homeland.’ This is not something you see every day in Downtown Ottawa.”
“Initially I thought it was a gang related shooting,” said Charles Go, a federal government employee. “I didn’t really care too much. We are due for three or four murders a year which is really safe still for a city. But once I realized it might be terrorist, it really dawned on me. I started calling family and the networks were all down, because everyone was going crazy on Facebook and Twitter, and I couldn’t reach them, so I had to go landline.”
In the wake of the events, many kababayans are feeling anger, fear, and terror, but most of all sorrow for the loss of the life of 24-year-old Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial.
“There is a mixed feeling,” said Marilou Moles, a federal government employee. “We have to be strong. We have to stay committed to what we do, to the work we have to do. At the same time, you can’t really deny the fear, that there’s a little bit of being terrified of going to work because we’re really not sure of what the situation is at this point. We don’t have the clear indication that the danger has been eliminated.”
“I even thought of calling in sick, pero life has to move on,” said Regina Sosing, another government employee, “pero life has to move on, so takot parin at kahit na hanggang ngayon, medyo lahat kami, makikita mo mga katrabaho naming, makikita mo sa mga mukha. Lahat talaga ay nagtatanong or hindi sila comfortable na pumasok ngayon.”
Why it happened, and if the shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was working with anyone else remains the biggest questions for the government as investigations continue.
“Terribly upset, because this is a home grown terrorist,” said Betty Obas, a Filipino community member. “We have no idea why they cannot do anything about it when they are all listed in the no fly list. So why are they still walking around the street of Canada?”
Many are trying to move forward and restore some form of normalcy after the shooting, and despite all that has taken place, Wednesday’s events have unified Canadians and have made them stronger.
“I hope it does not define what’s going to happen in the future,” said Jimmy Agbayani, Program Officer at International Partnerships. “Canada is considered one of the safest and one of the best places to live. To have this happen in Canada at this time really is much of a surprise to all Canadians. Prime Minister Harper is really determined to make sure that we are not intimidated and this is going to be an isolated incident. But then again, it’s all about asking the Canadians and all communities in Canada to be in this together and to make sure that this does not happen again.”