Fireworks put emphasis and wonder in every celebration. It’s loud, bright but fleeting. It’s never a question why we love the sight of exploding colors in the sky or booming noises on the ground, but the question of what we prefer. But there is danger in beauty.
Last year, according to the data collected by the National Epidemiology Center (NCE) from 50 sentinel private and public hospitals, at least 860 cases of fireworks-related injuries occurred nationwide. These results were recorded from December 21, 2014 to January 5, 2015.
The Department of Health (DOH) launched its Iwas-Paputok campaign on December 7, 2015. Will it be as effective as the campaign of 2014 where cases dropped in comparison to 2013 which recorded 1,013 cases? But what about the fireworks industry in the Philippines? They are challenged too since the government pushes for the use of alternative means of celebrating the holiday season. Campaign against fireworks or promote responsible use of fireworks? Which campaign are we willing to support?
In Puerto Princesa City, firework dealers have built their stalls at the San Jose New Pubic Market entrance. Each stall boasts an array of fireworks. A familiar sight that appears yearly. Dealers offer affordable fireworks and kid-friendly ones like sparklers. Their most expensive fireworks are the ones in boxes which are valued at thousands of pesos. The dealers get their supply from Bulacan, the fireworks capital of the country.
According to three dealers, they undergo a grueling process to obtain appropriate permits which take months to accomplish. “Napakahirap na proseso,” said a dealer who has been in the business for more than 20 years. They have to pass requirements to numerous concerned agencies like the barangay, the fire department, the city hall, and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Aside from obtaining a permit to sell, dealers also ensure the safety of their place by having drums of water and sand and fire extinguishers. Each stall has tarpaulins saying, “No Smoking, Testing” in bold letters. They remain vigilant especially when there are customers around. Apart from safety, they also guarantee the quality of their merchandise.
The supot term known to avid buyers of fireworks can be attributed to the following: if the agent used to seal firecrackers or the fuse didn’t set properly, if the fireworks got wet, and if the buyer didn’t open the package properly. Dealers offer instructions regarding the correct way of using certain fireworks like the ones in boxes. Aside from selling fireworks, they also cater to establishments or private individuals who want to avail a fireworks show. The fee varies depending on the duration of the show and the dealer.
According to dealers, the popular fireworks are kwitis and fountains. The fireworks that can elicit a “wow” from people are the ones in boxes. These are the ones that light up the sky in varying colors and shapes. Stalls also sell torotot or horns priced at around P3.00 to P100.00 each.
It has been a tradition in our country to light up fireworks during Christmas and New Year. It is something that cannot be erased in our celebrations easily. What we can do is prepare and take fireworks seriously or come up with better alternatives.