Saturday, January 3, 2009

The good rain

I've experienced a New Year's Eve or two in the Philippines where there was a very light rainshower (ambon in the vernacular) around midnight. But the light rain failed to dampen the fireworks that lightened the sky and the firecrackers that deafened the ears, as how Filipinos always celebrate the occasion. The brighter and more complicated the fireworks display, the better (and more expensive). The more eardrum-shattering the firecrackers, the more that Filipinos love to fire 'em up. For some people, they believe that the brightness and the loudness of the pyrotechnics will ward off bad spirits from the incoming year. Indeed, fireworks is big business in the Philippines, as we even have a "fireworks capital," that is, Bocaue town in Bulacan province, just a few miles away from the capital city. Most fireworks factories are located in Bocaue. But it seems that the brightness and, particularly, the loudness of the crackers bring bad luck, to the contrary, to many people. Before and after midnight, year after year, Philippine hospitals are filled to the brim with people bleeding to the hilt from some firecracker accident--a cracker that exploded in the hand while being lit up, a cracker that failed to lit up on the ground but fired up when handled by the reveler, a viewer of the fireworks display who had the misfortune of being in the path of a wayward boomer, a bystander who suddenly dropped to the ground after being hit by a stray bullet fired by some trigger-happy gun owner.

But this New Year's Eve of 2008/2009, thank God for the rain that fell over most of Metro Manila (where most of the Philippines' pyrotechnics seem to be fired off). There was a rainshower earlier in the day (actually even days before New Year's Eve), which continued till early evening. Just before midnight and after midnight, the rain became a bit stronger. There was therefore less pyrotechnics, and less pollution. And even the better news, the health and police authorities say that injuries were at an all-time low for the country. Although the news still carried some grim items like the young boy who lost a hand while handling an lit up but unexploded cracker, and the young girl who face got burned by the hot sparks from the a "fountain" that fell flat to the ground (facing her) from its standing position while spewing out its gunpowder and stuff.

What the authorities fail to do every year, that is, dissuade Filipinos from firing up those sometimes dangerous crackers, the rain was able to do so. Well, now, two days after the first day of the year, I can still hear loud explosions of leftover crackers around the city, as the rain has abated somehow. And the hospitals are still on heightened alert nowadays for some cracker injuries. The merrymaking goes on!!!

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