Let’s reinvent New Year’s Eve

Eddie Ilarde - The Philippine Star
Letâs reinvent New Yearâs Eve
Those were the days, my friend: The author (second from left) years ago on Student Canteen with co-host Leila Benitez and Pat Boone (who is coming for a show at the Big Dome on Tuesday, Dec. 6) and Nick Balbona (leftmost, Pat Boone of the Philippines).

MANILA, Philippines – Typical New Year’s Eve celebration is dancing and merrymaking capped by the countdown to midnight. When the clock strikes 12, the celebrators hug and kiss one another, balloons float, wine and champagne flow, loud music and paper trumpets blare, multi-colored paper strips fill the room, as more boisterous laughing and screaming continue. In more conservative countries, religious rituals and community prayer sessions are observed for Heaven’s blessings for the coming New Year. That’s somewhere on this planet. Not here.

New Year’s Eve celebration in the Philippines is the only one of its kind in the world. This is the only country where planes are diverted to other airports because of zero visibility at the international airport due to thick and toxic smoke from thousands of tons of firecrackers — firebombs if you please — exploded the night before. Every year, such mayhem continues up to dawn the next day. My niece’s husband, a member of MI6 Special Forces and a veteran of Middle Eastern conflicts while in Manila one New Year’s Eve, with obvious trepidation said: “Wow, this is Iraq 10 times over…those are not firecrackers but grenades and mortal shells.”

But habits, and stupidity die hard. Conservative estimates put the number of deaths and injured to thousands the past few years alone. Scare tactics by the government by showing mutilated hands and lacerated faces, financial hardship, even Martial Law failed to scare and intimidate or bring some sense into stupid people’s mind. This absurdity is Chinese in origin doctored for profit by some Filipino idiots — drive the evil spirits with noise and firecrackers so luck can stay. Don’t be fooled: evil is still very much around, in your barangay, in business, in church, especially in government. Despite the disappearance of the small harmless rebentador for the more powerful and saleable bawang, super lolo, plapla, sinturon ni hudas, five-star, piccolo, roman candle, whistle bomb, trompillo, crying bading, goodbye Philippines and other silly names, evil has now embedded itself in almost everything people do.

The author, Pat and Leila with co-host Pepe Pimentel (in wide hat).

Let’s reinvent New Year’s Eve celebration in this country: Local governments proclaim a Grand Fireworks Display in its plaza or in any suitable place for such an open-air sumptuous Media Noche Handaan at Kainan, prepared by the LGU with food donation from its prominent citizens. This massive exhibition of multi-colored and attractive pyrotechnics shall definitely bring the people together in a community New Year’s Eve jubilee; the people shall enjoy more in a safe and more enjoyable event such as this without spending for their own putukan in their neighborhood. MMDA can sponsor a contest with attractive prizes for The Most Colorful, The Most Attended, The Most Imaginative production, and covered by the press, radio and TV. Show the world the Filipino is not really insane or stupid.

Habits die hard, yes, but good points considered with people getting something in return can easily sell. No need to frighten with arrest or death, no need to surrender. Just enjoy without losing a finger or burning a face. That’s not only Chinese, that’s universal, that’s also very Filipino! As former President Fidel Ramos used to say “Kaya natin ito.”


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