I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year: Philippine Style

A makeshift stand just two blocks from my in-laws' house in B.F. Homes, P'que. The vendor was a little wary that I wanted to take a photo since these are illegal (law enforcement response to this tradition has been to throw their hands up and hope for the best)

BOMBS! That's what they are. Little bombs. Sold on almost every major street corner around town it seems. Not much has changed from when I was a child in the Philippines on New Year's eve. Families have a stash of firecrackers in the house. I never gave actual danger much thought as I handled the simple paper bags they came in, dusty with gunpowder shaken from each triangle of paper bound explosive. Every kid (as young as five) walked with a bag, box of matches or candles to light these bombs and God help our eardrums.

The wood table (two-thirds the size of a ping pong table)was heavy with packages wrapped in colorful cellophane like they were gift baskets. I peer under the table and there were boxes stacked like bricks and packed solid of their supply. If a stray cigarette spark were to light that stash...And this was a tiny operation compared to the gaggle just around the commercial center of town.

"Triangulo," is what we called the small triangle the size of a regular guitar pic, but the larger variety are the "5 Star" kind, now those were serious. The small dynamite shaped ones (above photo) are of a higher order, likely able to blow chunks of asphalt as it goes off. There's more. Cinturon ni Judas (Judas Belt) is a long braid of explosives designed to explode in rapid continuous fire, machine gun like. It will, in a few short hours, sound a lot like an actual war zone here in Manila.

Just a few steps ahead on my walk to my morning coffee I found a lone 5-Star laying on its side, looking quite ready to be deployed. The city irrigation truck winded its way towards me as I took this photo and rather poetically drenched it into a benign pad of wet paper and powder.

When we were young we also made our own cannons. That's right, a real cannon made of bamboo. A fire slowly stoked under the lower chamber of the long bamboo cooks fuel to a boil, releasing it as vapor. When enough is in the chamber a stick lit with fire at the end is touched to the blow hole igniting the gas and...BOOOOM! Boys. It was a lot of fun. Really dangerous and toxic. Of course we didn't think of it that way back then. We even loaded the barrel with empty milk cans as projectiles, aimed at a competing bamboo cannons manned by other kids.

But that was years ago. Apparently a modern innovation came out of Cavite (where I was born and grew up).

Went to visit relatives in Cavite City. On the way back I made a point of stopping by this shop by the road where these very convincing weapons were hanging. That's my brother-in-law, Mano, asking about the price of these "Boga" guns. We weren't buying really but just a ruse so I can snap a pic. Those boys are just like what me and my brothers were with our bamboo cannon long ago. Ahhh, meh-moh-reeez!

LUCENA CITY--A retired band member in this city has fashioned a cannon out of a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe, turning it into a hot-selling noisemaker to welcome the New Year.

John Almario, 37, got the idea from the "boga" cannon invented by the CaviteƱos.

He bought a red PVC "bazooka" in Cavite last year, tinkered with its parts and mechanisms, added some innovations and came up with his own design.

He now has a booming business selling the cannons in a makeshift stall along the main road of the Market View Village here.

"I knew I could make money from it," Almario told the Inquirer.

Two years ago, the "boga" cannon was very popular because it was a safe, cheaper and more effective noisemaker.

Like the cannon invented by the CaviteƱos, Almario uses PVC pipes and fittings as the main materials.

Have a safe New Year's eve celebration. I'll try to save my hearing by stuffing cotton in me ears. I'll also try not to have any part of me blown up. If I get any good pictures tonight I'll post them right quick.

Happy New Year!

Link to Inquirer.net
Link to Reuters India
Link to Manila Times short history of fireworks in the Philippines.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah baby, start the new Year right with a bang.

3:30 AM

Blogger Sedyas said...

Happy new year and happy bithday, Ronnie!

8:44 AM

Blogger DSK said...

sedyas beat me to it but it's certainly worth repeating:
Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

5:24 PM

Blogger Louie del Carmen said...

Talk about being oblivious to danger... we would light these babies after consuming 4 to 6 bottles of San Miguel Beer! Now that's fun dammit!!!

And yes it is like a war zone come midnight of the 31st. Consequently, there are long lines of people seeking medical attention at every emergency room in the city when it's all done. Just 2nd degree burns and missing fingers, that's all...

Have a safe trip home and Happy Birthday Bro!!

8:31 PM

Blogger Paul Tuller said...

haha, a whole post about bombs! This is awesome
Hope you and the fam are having a GREAT time!! Happy new year!

11:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup my dear classmate, been missing these for acouple of years now,miss the san miguel too, its too tamed in here...

10:39 PM


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