As in the previous years, New Year came to Davao without a bang. Since 2001, when the city created an ordinance banning firecrackers, New Year has always been celebrated with mute revelry as only the traditional torotot and banging of pots and pans can be heard around the city (of course, there are also those who use their car horns to create noise).
It is not only firecrackers that are banned in the city. Pyrotechnics are also illegal so the glow and aura of those attractive things can only be seen on TV sets in this city.
There is no use in bucking the city government. Mere possession of firecrackers and pyrotechnics is illegal in Davao. If in other cities those things are just confiscated, here in Davao it will land you in jail (and there are no prosecutors and judges to attend to your case during the long holidays). This season the city’s mayor, Rody “Dirty Harry” Duterte, even included minors for arrest in case they are found in possession of minor fireworks (so you won’t even see here small luces and watusi the children play with in other areas). Davao is really nitrate-emission free.
One result of this is a zero injury rate in fireworks-related incidents. Hospitals treat New Year’s eve here like an holiday. Some people here say that reporting yourself to the hospital can get you arrested. I wonder if a mangled finger a proper evidence in court.
Maybe it is time for the country to ban fireworks. It is probably just an unnecessary expense that we can’t really afford. For a moment of pleasure injuries (and even death) can ensure, the environment is polluted (noise and nitrates), and altercations ensue from wrongly-thrown fireworks (the bane of commuters during New Year’s eve). And if the avowed purpose of using firecrackers is to weed out malas (bad luck), certainly, decades of experience will tell us that this isn’t effective. Otherwise, we would have been a prosperous country already.
If Davao’s New Year’s bash is relatively quiet, it is not so in our nearby city, General Santos City. On New Year’s eve, hours before the year-change, a big explosion ripped the Oval Plaza injuring 26 people including 2 policemen. This is on top of an explosion the previous day in a police outpost that injured another policeman. Instead of holiday joy, General Santos City experienced quiet brought about by terror (for how can be one sure that the next bang is not the real thing?).
There is a place near the river Pasig that needs a wake-up blast and not General Santos City. Maybe some real malas removal would then happen.
[Photo credit: toto lozano, sunstar davao]