Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Man vs. Manila: Surviving New Year's in the Philippines.

I opened the door to Sheila’s apartment, poked my head out the door as explosions in the sky lit my face, took a couple of deep breaths, and sprinted next door while covering my ears. Looking like a soldier running for cover from enemy fire, I sought shelter next door.

It was New Year’s Eve in Manila, and it was mayhem.

For New Year’s, Filipinos exhibit their passion for making a ruckus with an impressive shock and awe firecracker extravaganza. According to one of the million superstitions that’s shared in this country, making noise on New Year’s will drive away evil spirits, which of course – I mean, let’s be honest - is an excuse to blow shit up.

It was a war zone in Manila. And as someone who’s not a fan of fireworks, I was a bit uneasy. But forget about the fireworks for one second. Because not only did I have to worry about stray bottle rockets from invading my bubble space, I had to worry about gonzo gun holders who celebrate New Year’s with celebratory gunfire.

In the end, my feelings of uneasiness warranted legitimate concern because the moment the clock struck midnight there were a reported of 546 cases of injuries due to fireworks and stray bullets – and thirty-three percent of those cases involved children between the ages of 1 and 10 years old.

There’s definitely a good reason why my father didn't allow me to use fireworks as a child . . . because fireworks – in other words, gunpowder! - and children do NOT mix! Period.

I made it next door unscathed and viewed the city’s festivities from the third floor of Tita Helen’s (Sheila’s mother) apartment. It was an amazing spectacle to watch. I was just happy my body was completely intact by the end of the night.

Happy New Year’s!