Boom, Boom, Ain’t It Great?: gunpowder casualties


So pretty, yet so... explosive.

If you had to estimate how many people were injured by fireworks or stray bullets on New Year’s Eve in the Philippines, what would you guess? I’ll give you a few background facts to help you narrow your answer.

  1. Right before NYE, the government allegedly ran a “scare” campaign to reduce the likelihood of death and injury. (To be fair, I never heard nor saw anything to this effect. To be more fair, I don’t speak Tagalog, watch T.V. or listen to the radio.)
  2. Two hours before midnight, while watching an Australian demolitions expert try to light his Chinese firework of megadeath, I suddenly felt pain on the top of my right foot. A nearby child – about ten years of age – wasn’t watching what happened to the fiery bits after they left the tip of his roman candle. I ducked behind a dumpster.
  3. Apparently, as many Filipinos are of Chinese descent, the Chinese custom of chasing away evil and misfortune with noise on the New Year is alive and well.

Okay, so? Your guess? (If I was a programmer, on top of already being a mega-nerd, I would have made you a little box to enter guesses and an automatic feedback to tell you higher or lower. Instead you’ll have to settle for this:)

Capsules of death and injury in the wrong hands!

The correct answer is “nearly five-hundred.” 454 from fireworks and 18 from stray bullets – numbers slightly lower than last year! Firecrackers also ignited at least three fires that “destroyed several homes in the capital area.” AND early on New Year’s day, twelve plane flights were unable to land “after dark smog caused by a night of firecracker explosions obscured visibility at Manila’s airport !“

Wow. Happy New Year!

I didn’t say, yet, that we celebrated our New Year singing private-room karaoke in Dumaguete in the Visayas. Ok, where? The Philippines is a giant group of islands (if by giant I mean like hacking California into pieces, launching it straight into the sky in southwest prevailing winds, and seeing where everything lands). We had yet to explore the smattering of small islands in the southern half of the country, known collectively as the Visayas. (Vee-sigh-uhs).

The white-colored islands are where we are now. The big island (Luzon) at the top is where we hung out for Christmas. The long, skinny, pink finger on the left is Palawan - where I was before the holidays.

So here we are. Honestly, we didn’t do much in Dumaguete. I had been sick previous to our Baguio departure. We got on a bus at 4 a.m. after only sleeping two or three hours. We arrived in Manila early afternoon, took the cheap (and therefore more difficult) transport to the airport, waited forever and a day for our flight to Cebu, crashed out a at a hotel upon arrival, jumped on a jeepney to the bus station as soon as we were fed and watered in the morning, hopped a bus all the way down the coast, rode the ferry to Dumaguete, got cranky at each other, and went to SLEEP!

When you spend more than six hours researching and executing moves from Point A to Point B to Point C on the fly, trust me, the beast of exhaustion will inhabit and take over your every cell. I like to think it’s character building. Or at least anti-Alzheimer’s conditioning. Maybe.

So, we gave ourselves a few days off to do what you do on your days off. Catch up on stuff. Read. Eat. Internet. Nothing. When we were finally ready to go back to exploring the Philippines, we packed a lunch, memorized directions to the Twin Lakes, and gathered sunscreen, camera, and bathing suits. And stepped from our windowless hovel into… the pouring rain.

I’ll tell you what we did instead next time. Be well! 🙂 ♣

Here you can see a ship wrecked by the typhoon, Pat crammed into an Asian airplane, and tropical flowers!



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