FOR the wrong reasons, the Philippines got international media coverage because of two Filipinos, one in Las Vegas, the other in Manila.

The question: “What is one big mistake that you’ve made in your life and what did you do to make it right?”

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Miss Philippines, Venus Raj’s answer: “Thank you so much sir for that wonderful question. Good evening ladies and gentlemen, good evening Las Vegas. You know what, Sir, in my 22 years of existence, I can say that there is nothing major, major I mean problem I have done in my life because I am very confident with my family, with the love they are giving to me, so thank you so much that I am here. Thank you, thank you so much.”

From her stratospheric position as among the favorites to win the Miss Universe crown, Venus Raj stumbled to a fourth-runner up finish with her strange response to a difficult, not wonderful, question.

Hounded by controversy for inconsistencies in her birth certificate, Venus was stripped of her Miss Philippines title, only to be reinstated later. Said to be a farm girl from Camarines Sur, Venus had a good command of the English language, though she Filipinized it by repeating the word “major” for emphasis. It did not go well with the judges. Then there is that perception that with Raj coming from a Third World country, it is improbable that she would not have made a big mistake.

But then again, who would want to make a confession on one’s shortcoming before judges and spectators and millions of viewers? You can’t blame Venus for revealing a positive outlook in life. An American newscast that featured Venus’s controversial answer said that when they were asked the same question, other prominent individuals, including US President Barrack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush, stumbled as well. The latter said, “You should have given me advance notice of that question.”

That same question is relevant to the hostage crisis that left eight Chinese nationals and the hostage-taker dead. Dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza, who was in full battle gear, was serious when he commandeered a tourist bus in front of the Quirino Grandstand, where President Noynoy Aquino took his oath of office. For eleven hours, police, civil government officials and media feasted on the crisis until Mendoza went on a shooting rampage after learning that his brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, was arrested for alleged conspiracy.

As the Senate probe on the incident shows, nobody wants to have blood on their hands, thus all those who managed the crisis are blaming each other for the bungled operation. Most concerned are the players in the tourism industry who fear a backlash.

The bloody incident covered by the world media portrayed not just the incompetence of the police force but also the corruption that has riddled the organization.

Global Times, a major newspaper in China, had a surgical analysis: "The Philippines is one of the most chaotic countries in Southeast Asia...A culture of colonization, autocracy and rapid changes in government have created all sorts of curious grievances in this country." A commentator in Hong Kong had this observation: "This kidnapping thing or taking of hostages involving policemen have been regular issues in Philippine society locally. There are regularly Chinese businessmen being kidnapped by people, often with police involvement."

It would be unfair to drag the name of President Noynoy Aquino III into situations that he had no control of. But it should send a message to the Aquino government that it has to address deeper systemic problems that have contributed to the negative perception about our nation and people. It would be one big mistake if nothing is done.