There is urgency in the young man who works fast at a deadline. He is one of the fire-cracker makers in one of the busy pyrotechnics hub in Bulacan from where many fireworks on the streets come from. Dirtied by gunpowder and grime, the man rushes firecracker production in his make-shift factory during the Christmas holiday, oblivious of the risks it poses on his life and on his neighbor.
Revelers this Christmas and new year seek to buy fireworks for their rowdy celebration. By our tradition, the bang and bright display are ways to mark the coming year —the Filipino merry-making which doubles as an occasion to ward off bad luck.
According to our folk beliefs detonating firecrackers is needed to invite life’s good forces on the first day of the year. Whether this is true or not, we are thrilled by the spark and sound of firecrackers. A fast buck can be gained by trading watusi, bawang, “belt of judas, and lolo when the demand is there.
Body injuries and burns are some of fireworks’ drawbacks. Eardrums have been ruptured by the loud blasts. Explosive debris have pierced the eyes. Houses have been gutted down and many mutilations and deaths have been reported. Last year, the Department of Health (DOH,) has listed about 750 fire-cracker injuries. Public hospitals are now on alert in anticipation for those who may be brought to the emergency rooms.
As of December 21, 2008, it was reported that of the 119 holiday-related injuries documented, 115 were from firecrackers and fireworks,, 3 were gunshot wounds and 1 from ingestion of watusi.
There is obviously a need to regulate the use of pyrotechnics for the protection of the public. Shoddy manufacture of firecrackers brings problems of safety, giving a boost to the sale of the ones imported abroad. There’s little implementation of laws—even gunfires and pistol shots are recklessly substituted for fireworks at the height of celebration. Though most of us know the dangers, the relentless campaign for the safe use of fireworks during holidays remains a job in progress.(Photo Credits: _gem_s; Reuters/ Ranoco, Romeo; Reuters/Ranoco, Romeo; persesverando)=0=