New Year’s Eve is just around the corner again. Even if people look forward to the New Year, they have to survive one thing: the firecrackers that make such deafening noise and present a tremendous hazard to everyone around (heck, New Year’s Eve is the time I hate the most because of the violent noise all around). Yet this issue presents a question: why is it that in a country beset by poverty, people still burn their money on something that can blow off their fingers each year and annoy other people with noise worse than an out-of-tune videoke (or even cause a heart attack through getting startled)?
Our firecracker culture is another low point of our society; basically a symptom of the social ills. Firstly, you see how inconsiderate people are with firecrackers. You’re sleeping soundly after a tiring night and suddenly a loud bang wakes you. And after a few seconds, another, then another, then another… precious sleep was lost. And even at times like 12 midnight, 2 am or 6 am? No wonder fellow blogger Iya wrote “Filipinos are Rude.”
You also wonder what causes people to buy stuff that blows their hands off anyway. Or, even if they buy safer rockets or light ups, why spend lots of money on it (One sawa costs P2400 or P2800 I believe, and P45 on a fountain or other firework could have been one carinderia meal)? You might as well take the P1000 bill and set it on fire. But still, why the expense? Perhaps one answer to my question above is in the question itself: poverty.
Thanks to poverty, they don’t seem to know any better. Most of the people I see popping firecrackers are either street kids and people from the slums, or even jobless or underemployed adults. The poor seem to be wasting more money on it. You may see groups of raggedly-looking kids who casually toss firecrackers that cause passers by to jump even if they’re on the other side of the street. And the squatter and poor areas seem to have the most firecracker noise every day.
Of course, there are other issues, like discipline. Don’t forget the irresponsibility of our soldiers or policemen who fire into the air, using their guns as firecrackers. Heaven knows what stupidity gets into their heads when they do this (of course, alcohol is a likely explanation), but it really brings down the respectability of our institutions. Considering that the chance of getting hit by a bullet fired in the air is slim, and yet several people already are getting hit by bullets, then it means so many police or soldiers or gun wielders are irresponsibly firing in the air. What are the top brass and government doing about it?
Part of the government is trying to at least control the incidences of firecrackers and accidents. One recent step was to designate firecracker zones, while the police continue to exhort people to not use firecrackers. Duterte was reported to have successfully reduced or eliminated firecracker usage in Davao. Why don’t our local government units in Manila do something similar to this?
And while these steps may be laudable, more actually needs to be done. Some might find the firecracker thing a trivial issue, but I don’t. I actually connect it to the state of the nation. Poverty is a factor in stupid firecracker use, and so solving the economic issues is a big part of the solution. Poverty is a lack of options. Poor children may have nothing to pass the time with but firecrackers. So with the jobless people; they may be receiving handouts (like from the CCTs) that they’ll spend on firecrackers. Of course, lack of education could lead to the lack of consideration and bad manners described above. If these people could afford more worthwhile pursuits, they would look for something much less wasteful than firecrackers.
Without other options, business people in Bocaue, Bulacan may decide that they have no other livelihood than fireworks. If federalism were applied in their area, businesses could more easily be set up that sell something other than fireworks and firecrackers. Firecrackers may seem like a petty issue to some, but I see a strong connection between it and the poor economic policies and damaged culture that have hobbled our nation. Thus, the various economic and cultural solutions Antipinoy.com supports are also steps to solving the firecracker problem.
For now, we could only advise people to be safe. If they want to celebrate New Year’s Eve noisily, they had best do it without firecrackers and just use horns, noisemaking toys and even music. If someone gives you firecrackers, you may give them to someone else. The mere light-ups like luces and fountains are more tolerable; yet people should practice safety and not light the fountains so close to their homes, or they may be greeted by homelessness in the New Year. Well, you readers know what you can do.
By the way, in case people don’t believe that firecrackers can damage hands, you might want to show them this picture (which may cause them to lose whatever they ate, hehehe).
Happy New Year to all AP readers!