Manila park to house memorial to dead hostages
Simpson Cheung and Raissa Robles in Manila
A monument commemorating the eight Hongkongers killed in the Manila hostage crisis a year ago today will be built in the city's Rizal Park.
The visit by 20 Hong Kong tourists and their guide turned into one of the most notorious hostage incidents in recent years, leaving eight dead and the rest of the group physically and mentally traumatised.
The bloodbath, broadcast live and watched by hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people, deeply shocked the public and soured the city's relations with Manila.
A year after the tragedy, the healing has barely started.
Hong Kong still maintains a 'black' alert on travel to the Philippines - although both sides confirm they are negotiating to change that.
Philippine tourism undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin and tourism assistant secretary Benito Bengzon said the Hong Kong government had agreed to the organisation of 'familiarisation' tours for the Hong Kong media and tour companies - a hint that it may drop its highest travel warning against the country.
The Manila city government approved the building of a monument that will be funded by two commercial chambers, including one formed by ethnic Chinese.
But for the survivors and relatives of the victims, it was a gesture offering little solace. 'After one year, I still miss Masa. Even now, I still cannot forget him,' Lee Mei-chun, mother of dead tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said breaking into tears yesterday in Manila. 'I came here to fight for justice for my son.'