I was in a taxi on the edge of Rizal Park when I heard the first gunshots. My heart raced as I wondered if anybody had been shot. The taxi driver assured me that the shots were fired by police to blow out the tyres of the tour bus. I exhaled a little, thankful that the crisis had apparently not resulted in bloodshed thus far. But I realised that, by now, hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza was probably feeling cornered and desperate. As the taxi reached the car park where the tour bus had been parked for the past 10 hours or so, I sprinted to within 100 metres of the bus and leaned against a lamp post for some protection. From there, I could see the entire right side of the bus with the window curtains pulled and the front tyres deflated. A spotlight was trained on the vehicle and television camera crews and reporters had staked out positions all around me. With crowds of onlookers it felt as if the crisis had taken on a little bit of a carnival atmosphere. Maybe this will end peacefully, I thought. Without warning, there was movement at the front of the bus and a man in a white shirt sprinted out and into the open parking lot. Along with other reporters and police I ran towards him, not sure if Mendoza was taking aim at us with his M16. The man was visibly exhausted, physically and mentally, but had a wide-eyed expression, like a deer caught in the headlights. He seemed to want to speak but the words wouldn't come. He then ran towards the back of the parking lot, where, in the glare of television cameras, he uttered a few words, before being bundled into a police car and driven away. It was only then it became clear who he was: 'He's the driver. He said he ran because he was afraid he would be killed because all the people are ... ' one Filipino reporter said as he motioned his hand across his throat. I was stunned. How could all the hostages be dead? There hadn't been enough gunshots to kill them all. Maybe Mendoza had used a silencer with his M16? No, there had to be some hostages still alive. Then my thoughts turned to Mendoza. Why would he kill all the hostages, his only bargaining chip? He did not seem like a man with a death wish. Only a short while ago, on the taxi ride to Rizal Park, the taxi driver had told me he had known Mendoza since childhood, when both their families lived in Banadero, Tanauan City in the Batangas region of Luzon island. Mendoza, the driver said, was the most decorated police officer in Manila with 17 medals and had always wanted to be a policeman. This was not someone who was ready to throw it all away, I told myself. Back at my vantage point behind the lamp post, I trained my eyes on the bus. My heart still racing. From behind the bus, a phalanx of police officers in full riot gear was slowly making its way along the right side of the bus, careful to stay below the windows. The officer at the front had a sledgehammer but each attempt to smash the windows and the windscreen made little impact. Rain, first a light drizzle and then an incessant downpour, quickly reduced visibility and I sought shelter under a makeshift canopy by the spotlight. Then, more gunshots, which sent everyone diving for cover. It was difficult to tell who was shooting in what direction although I saw the shots fired from inside the bus smashing their way out through the widows. As I tried to keep count of the number of gunshots, subconsciously, I was counting the number of dead hostages. One. Two. Three, four. Silence. The atmosphere was growing increasingly tense. How could Manila's police force attempt to take on one of their own, a highly decorated and experienced officer, if they couldn't even successfully storm the bus? Mendoza probably knows their every move before they make it, I thought. You cannot give a man in his position any warning. This can only end badly. A police vehicle approached the back of the bus while more police officers edged slowly towards the right side of the vehicle in two police cars with their doors open for shielding. I was yearning for an end to the crisis but was dreading the outcome. Amid more gunshots, I saw some of the police officers enter the bus and quickly pull some people out. I was not completely sure if the crisis was over but I started running towards the bus. Police officers, M16s slung casually over their shoulders, walked with a congratulatory swagger, as if they were satisfied with a job well done. It was over.