Man, doesn’t that picture say it all? Self inflicted maiming, dejected friends dragging your ignorant ass into a hospital where you will likely spend what little money the family has saved over the previous year? Welcome to New Years Eve Filipino style.
After three years of traveling to the hell hole known as the Philippines I experienced my first New Years Eve there on this last trip. The day starts with dirt poor buggers blowing horns and noisemakers of all sorts with constant firecrackers going off to scare away evil spirits. The death toll was only one, a drunk that lit a huge firecracker called Goodbye Earth or Goodbye Philippines then hugged the firecracker until it exploded. Around 380 were maimed, down from 1000 last year due to the light rain that fell in many areas.
Normally our gated subdivision is quiet, rarely even a radio blaring but on New Years Eve it was a madhouse with competing radios and loudspeakers and firecrackers going off non stop. Around 11 pm it peaked, the worst being the strings of firecrackers thrown up on the metal tile roofs. Around 2pm it started tapering off, right in time for getting up for the 4 am trip to the airport.
Thousands were left homeless in Manila alone as squatter shacks were burned to the ground after a single rocket landed in an empty hovel. Across the nation as many as 200 other shacks were burned as well.
As I left before daylight I wonder how much more additional trash is left littering the nation until it washes down into drains and out into the rivers and bays. Other superstitions are to leave as many lights on as possible, open all the doors, windows, cabinets, and drawers to let in good luck, filling your wallet with as much money as you can, throwing money into the air at midnight to ensure prosperity, cleaning and working hard the next day to bring an industrious year, buying and eating as many fruits as you can afford, and eating sticky rice on New Years Eave.
Industrious… wow, considering the amount of paid holidays that last week that is pretty silly. They get Christmas Eve off, Christmas Day, then Saturday is worked if you are in the private sector, Sunday off, then you have two days of work on Monday and Tuesday, then off for Rizal Day on Wednesday, then off again on Thursday for New Years Eve, and of course off again on New Years Day. And we aren’t done, another special non working day on January 2nd. From the 24th of December till January 4th, eleven days, there is exactly three days work and the rest is paid holidays. And the morons wonder why wages are low.
There is a total of eighteen paid holidays for those that follow the law along with the five days of service incentive leave, 23 days out of the year, nearly a month’s work lost per year for businesses. Couple that with the 13th month bonus you pay each year and you have two months wages added to your annual expenses. Zero productivity between the 24th and the 4th of January as most of the government offices are shut down or people are missing the two days of government work.
But they clean the house the next day so they have an industrious year? Some of them anyway, some believe that cleaning will clean out the good luck earned by all the noise making and superstitious practices.