03 January 2006

Happiness Means Lots of Explosions!

We Filipinos have a warped sense of what HAPPY NEW YEAR means.

Two days before New Year's Eve, our Department of Health (DOH) Secretary offered a suggestion to prevent firecracker injuries here:
"A surefire formula for a joyous and peaceful revelry is to welcome the New Year with prayer and to practice safe alternative ways of merry making without the use of injury-causing firecrackers," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

[Mindanao Daily Mirror, 29 Dec 2005]

He termed his solution as a "four-mula" to emphasize 4 vital points:
....DOH’s four safe ways of making noise are: l) using of pots, pans and paper horns; 2) never pick firecrackers that failed to explode; 3) if wounded, immediately wash wounds with soap and water and go to the nearest hospital for treatment, and, 4) never fire guns to greet the new year.

[News Today, 26 Dec 2005]

On December 28, seasoned columnist Neal Cruz sounded pessimistic:
IN JUST THREE DAYS, THE PHILIPPINES will be transformed into something like a war zone with explosions everywhere, injured victims groaning and screaming in pain, a few fires here and there, and some deaths, a few felled by bullets, others by stab wounds, still others by fire and explosions. It will be bedlam in hospital emergency rooms as overworked doctors and nurses work to save lives, sew back severed fingers, amputate hopelessly shattered limbs and patch up other wounds. Afterwards, gun smoke will hang over everything like a fog and the smell of gunpowder will fill the air, and the streets will be littered with pieces of paper, ashes from burned tires and the remnants of fireworks.

You should have seen my neighborhood last New Year's eve.

Now, fast-forward everything to the present time, and read what happened. Japan Today said:
MANILA — Three people were killed and more than 400 injured during the Christmas and New Year holiday period in the Philippines, police said Monday.

Bangkok Post of Thailand was more accurate:
MANILA — Three people were killed and more than 600 others were injured in Christmas and New Year's celebrations in the Philippines, police and health officials said today.

Can you imagine these figures? More than 600 people injured because of unsafe handling of firecrackers. The exact number is 610, up from last year's 582, and still higher than 2004's 548.

And oh, I almost forgot. December 2005 has been described as a "fiery month," too, as local firemen "battled an average of three and a half fires a day." Do I smell fireworks as a culprit? You bet!

Neal Cruz asked in the same column:
What happens to us in this one night of the year that we go crazy, hurting ourselves willfully and taking risks that we ordinarily would not take? What is even more strange, we do all these things because we want to make merry. Along with Christmas, New Year's Eve is the happiest time of the year, but we choose that to blow up our fingers. WHY?

He said it was due to a number of reasons: the Chinese influence in our culture, the Filipino stubborness of not learning how to make safe fireworks, the negligence of authorities concerned. If you ask me, I think it is more of apathy than negligence. Nobody cares whose limbs get mangled. Nobody learns from past mistakes. And those who know better don't take any initiative to correct or help the situation.

Cruz ended by blaming the government. While he had a point there, I do not think it will solve the problem. This has been going on for years. I think the blaming game works only for those who are sensitive enough to react.

4 reactions:

eye said...

ironically, sikat na naman tayong mga pinoy sa buong mundo dahil sa katigasan ng ulo. pero sa totoo lang, hindi kumpleto ang aking bagong taon dahil sobrang tahimik dito! na-miss ko rin ang mga putukan at pagwawalis ng kalat sa tapat ng bahay.

maligayang bagong taon, doc emer! :)

rolly said...

All the while I thought incidents like these is on a continuous decline because government had succeeded in putting a stop to this useless and expensive exercise. Kasi if I base it from the time I was growing up, kokonti na lang ang nagpapaputok ngayon. Noon kasi, walang patid ang putok as soon as darkness sets in. Now adays, dumadalas lang ang putukan pag malapit na ang 12 mn.

may said...

in our neighborhood, there was a 15 second firework. i kinda like it because i don't have asthma on the new year, but i kinda miss the noisy, no sleeping till after midnight philippine new year. well...one can't have it all i guess. happy new year doc emer!

bayibhyap said...

Do the authorities get serious with the offenders? Those who store, sell and ignite fire crackers? While we can't stop the merry-making through the use of fire crackers entirely, there has to be a two-prong effort to educate the public and to take punitive action to deter such action. TV and newspaper advertisements of children losing their fingers, pictures of houses being burnt down by fireworks gone awry, etc. starting a few weeks before the New Year help to stem the practice, followed by announcements of fines and news reports of raids against those suspected of hoarding fire crackers for sale.