Well, the holidays are officially over and 2012 is well under way. I purposely waited a day or two to write this post because you never know what will happen and I wanted to make sure I could include everything.
The first thing you need to know about spending New Years in the Philippines is there are fireworks. You may be used to fireworks in the US on the 4th of July but here it’s a whole new ballgame.
Most fireworks displays in the Philippines are not organized by the city or any other government agency like they are in the USA. Instead, they are done by private citizens right outside their homes. In addition to that there are lots of people with simpler fireworks like firecrackers (M-80’s, Thunderbombs, etc….), Bottle Rockets, Roman Candles, etc….
But there is one major difference. Here in the Philippines YOUNG children are allowed to play with the firecrackers/fireworks listed above with out any parental supervision. Of course this is nothing new from what I see on a daily basis in regards to how some parents in this country deal with their children.
At any rate on January 1st 2012 The Associated Press put out an article about how 454 Filipinos were injured by firecrackers and 18 more by gunfire (remember those old western movies where they fire their guns in the air to celebrate) despite a government sponsored awareness campaign about the dangers of firecrackers. Surprising? Not if you’ve lived here for any length of time and have had the chance to observe some of the insane things that Filipinos do.
With that being said, the Philippines on New Year’s Eve is not a safe place to be and I for one recommend staying indoors. If you live in the Philippines have a fire extinguisher handy in your home and watch your neighbors carefully to ensure they are not pointing fireworks in a direction that might threaten your home or your neighbors home as fires to spread quickly.
Actually, three fires broke out in the National Capital Region (NCR) alone because of firecrackers. I remember last year my neighbors firing Roman Candles into the air and his wife actually pointed it behind her towards her house to keep the flash from her eyes. I ran outside and corrected her and told her of the danger.This year I was home alone, Jenn took the kids to her mother’s house because she was mad at me, so I kept a close eye on my neighbors through the window.
Some of the ofher effects of New Years in the Philippines were about a dozen planes had to be diverted from landing due to the smoke caused by firecrackers. In addition to that two gangs decided to slug it out in front of the main government hospital in Manila.
I want to point out that on New Years most Filipinos are out to have a good time just like people in America would do but sometimes stuff happens. It just so happens that stuff happens here quite often and usually it’s due to childish antics and stupidity on the part of young and old alike.
I remember spending New Year’s Eve in Angeles City (2004) and John warned me about how dangerous it could be and he suggested that I should lock myself up in my hotel room. As with any tourist (as I was at the time) I ignored his wisdom and I took my girl out (as it happens it was Jenn) to dinner and on the way back to the hotel we encountered some kids in the street who thought it would be funny to fire some bottle rockets at the foreigner (me). At any rate I reacted angrily and thinking back on it I am rather surprised I didn’t get myself into a sticky situation.
Many of you may be wondering about the significance of firecrackers / fireworks at New Year’s in the Philippines. Simply put there is a LARGE Chinese influence in Filipino culture and as such they believe that noisy celebrations on New Years ward off evil and bad luck.
This may seem like nonsense to you and I but Filipinos are very superstitious people. Many are also a bit childish and irresponsible which explains why so many of them get hurt or allow their children to play with firecrackers unsupervised.