BACOLOD officials who were on an official visit to Keelung, Taiwan were not spared from the backlash of the recent hostage crisis that put the country to shame and exposed it to the ire of the world, particularly the Chinese.

Bacolod City Vice-Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Councilor Homer Bais, Leo Bentinganan, and former Councilor Alex Paglumotan composed the delegation that visited Keelung, Bacolod's sister city, to witness this year's staging of the Taiwanese city's famous Ghost Festival.

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Bais said they arrived in Taiwan Thursday, August 20, 2010 while the hostage crisis at the Quirino grandstand in Metro Manila happened on August 23, 2010.

While the tragic events were unfolding, Bais said all eyes were on the Philippines. He and his companions felt very conscious about the crisis because all the broadcast and print media outlets in Taiwan were focused on the hostage crisis.

Bentingan narrated an uncomfortable experience with a taxi driver in Taiwan.

When Bentingan came out of the hotel, a taxi driver asked him, "Are you a Filipino?" He confidently replied yes.

According to Bentingan, the taxi driver immediately responded, "Ah! Filipino, bang bang."

He said he just ignored the incident because he also understood the sentiments of the Taiwanese people, especially with the massive media coverage.

Another Taiwanese they met also asked one of them, "Are you Filipino?"

Bentinganan said he cannot recall exactly who among them answered but the Taiwanese reportedly said, "Okay. Thank you... Thank you..." and he immediately left.

Bais said the hostage tragedy has cast a negative shadow over Filipinos who are working abroad. He also worries on the impact the incident might have on the staging of the forthcoming MassKara Festival in Bacolod this October.

The number of foreign Chinese tourists during the Masskara Festival is not really substantial but Bais is not sure how other nationalities will view the country after the incident.

Bais hopes the negative impact of the hostage crisis will just eventually subside.