Dec 212008

New Year’s Eve in the Philippines is the nearest thing to being in a war without being shot at, at least not deliberately, and the Philippine Coast Guard is getting prepared. It has issued warnings that it will be tightening up on people transporting fireworks on ferries as the Christmas Season deliquesces into 2009.

Firecrackers wil crack, M16s will open up on nothing in particular and 45 and 9mm automatic pistols will thunder. One British Ambassador told me that his family, based in the sumptuous Forbes Park area, sleep downstairs on New Year’s Eve because of the very real danger of a 50 millimetre round dropping through the roof courtesy of the Philippine Army next door.

A vast cloud of cordite will engulf Manila, the air will sting with the smell of sulphur and it will probably rain as the particulate matter of destruction seeds the clouds. Next day the streets will be knee-deep in shreds of cheap brown paper, the remains of popular ear-shatterers such as Five Stars and Super Lolos.

Fingers will be vionetly separated from their owners, of course. Party-goers filled with rum, San Miguel Beer or the vile local gin will discover that the fat from the roast suckling pig they’ve just devoured has excellent adhesive properties after they’ve lit the firework fuse and found it can’t be thrown away.

Back to fireworks and ferries: A massive exodus is currently underway to the Philippine provinces, much it by ferry. Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo reminded people carrying fireworks that they will need special permits to do so. Apparently several such shipments have already been seized, so the coast guard at least cn celebrate the New Year with a bang.

Local media quotes Tamayo as saying that the Coast Guard “ not want any accidental explosion aboard a passenger ship to mar the ongoing Christmas and New Year exodus to the provinces. Tamayo urged passengers to report such violations to the Coast Guard.

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