“Stay alive and whole for the coming year,” is the Department of Health’s message to the Filipino people during New Year celebrations. In its Oplan Iwas Paputok Website, it reported that “about 760 Filipinos nationwide reportedly suffered from blast injuries after the Christmas festivities in 1995.”

Meanwhile, from 8:01 a.m. of December 21, 2004 to 7 a.m. today, there were already 585 injuries recorded in 50 hospitals nationwide, said Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit in an INQ7 report. Eight deaths due to firecrackers were also reported, with seven of them due to an explosion that razed firecracker stores in Bulacan early morning yesterday.

While the number of injuries haven’t yet reached 1995 record posted on the DOH site, it still makes me wonder why Filipinos keep on wasting money–firecrackers and fireworks could cost hundred of pesos nowadays– and risking their lives so just they could join the fun-and-noise-filled New Year celebrations.

It has become a tradition here in the Philippines to use paputok or firecrackers supposedly to ward off evil spirits and bad vibes at the beginning of a new year. Yet with more than 500 people starting the year with injured, or worse, missing body parts–as well as a number of fire incidents, more polluted air, and distressed pets–using firecrackers doesn’t seem a good idea after all.

If a tradition does us more harm than good, why don’t we just say goodbye to it?

Related link: Manila Times special report on firecrackers business in Bulacan

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