AMDG

What did the big firework say to the little firework? 'My pop is bigger than your pop!'

I spent most of New Years day in Cebu airport waiting for a delayed flight.  The cause for the delay….. Snow? – no,  Erupting Volcanoes? – no.   Believe it or not it was because of smog caused by the clouds of smoke from the NewYear fireworks in Manila !  New Year is celebrated in style here in the Phillipines – but unlike in the UK where a lot of people will go to shared displays organised by local govt, or other bodies here they are all ‘private’ displays ( if you can ever call a firework display private).

After the simple joys of Christmas in the Mountains I enjoyed a few days of wonderful hospitality with fellow Brit Prov Jesuit Stefan Garcia’s family in Cebu.   New Years Eve was marked by a sumptuous meal and celebration with the extended family in the hills outside Cebu.  The fireworks were truly impressive – as different families were trying to outdo each other.  Stefans father, who owns the Visayan Electricity Company, explained to me that you can tell who has had a good year by their firework display – this year it seemed to be the lawyers and doctors with the biggest displays!  Instead of conspicuous consumption – this was a case of  conspicuous combustion!

As always those with less resources join in with their own (less safe) fireworks.  Very popular is the ‘judas belt’ which is are essentialy firecrackers arranged sequentially along a common fuse. . As the fuse burns, it ignites each of the explosives in turn at a rate of up to 1000 rounds per minute. The noise produced is similar to that of a machine gun, but slightly irregular due to the inherent differences between the rounds.  Due to the proximity of the individual rounds, it is possible (and common) for an unexploded round to be thrown some distance by the explosive force of the adjacent one, before exploding itself. This unpredictable nature makes the Judas belt more dangerous than it seems. This year there were only476 victims of firecracker accidents in ‘one of the world’s most raucous and dangerous New Year celebrations’.

Happy New-Year to all – good luck with all those resolutions.