Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fireworks in Bocaue, Bulacan

Filipinos are known to celebrate New Year's eve by lighting different kinds of fireworks. Most locally made fireworks are made in Bocaue, Bulacan and people from Manila and nearby provinces travel there to buy fireworks in bulk to sell or just buy for personal use on New Year's eve. When I was a kid, fireworks were generally "safe" and I hardly remember an accident that involved kids during New Year's eve. But now, when fireworks were made to become more complex, loud and lethal, a lot of injuries are reported every year where children are the usual victims of prohibited fireworks.

Here is a list of fireworks that are still being made today and have continued to cause accidents to children:

1. Super Lolo
2. Bawang
3. Sawa or Judas Belt
4. Watusi
5. Picolo
6. Five star
7. Lolo
8. Kwitis or Baby Rocket
9. Whistle Bomb

Some accidents involve poorly manufactured "safe" fireworks that were generally expected just to provide a light show but exploded when used.

1. Fountain
2. Trompillo
3. Roman Candle
4. Lusis

My wife and I have long decided to avoid using fireworks every New Year. When we started watching news about people and children rushed to hospitals because of serious injuries caused by fireworks, we realized that we can celebrate the occasion safely by using alternative ways to make noise. Here are our suggestions:

1. Torotot or horn
2. Loud music
3. Drums or hitting steel or stainless cookware
4. Sirens
5. Vehicle horns

Or better yet, just join fireworks display by several cities around Metro Manila where the local government buys imported fireworks and are lighted by professionals from a very safe distance. Two years ago, we went to Ayala Avenue in Makati for the New Year Countdown and the place was very festive. The local government displayed a huge digital clock on a stage and people started to shout the countdown until New Year's day. Once the clock reaches 12:00 am, fireworks were lighted and people danced on the streets to celebrate the New Year. A number of the audience wore costumes and masks which made the occasion like a street party. Showbiz personalities also performed song and dance numbers to highlight the event.

Let's be safe this New Year and avoid buying dangerous fireworks. Celebrate with your love ones and welcome the New Year with a prayer to God so He will continue to bless us. Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

This year's Christmas celebration is one of the happiest and most memorable for our family. It is our first Christmas as a family of four, Me, my wife-Hahai, Leon and Maia, our youngest. We also completed the 9-day novena or Simbang Gabi/Misa de Gallo this year as a thanksgiving for all the blessings we received the past year.

We have lots to thank for most especially for our children being healthy the whole year and for our steady income to provide for our family's needs. We are looking forward for the year 2011 which we think would be better and much more productive for us. We would also like to thank our parents and relatives who are always there to help us. Friends also are a blessing and without them, life would not be interesting.

Thank you very much Jesus and we all greet you a very Happy, happy Birthday. May you continue to shower us your blessings next year and the all the years that will come.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Simbang Gabi - Misa de Gallo

Ever since I was a child, my mom always makes it a point for us to attend the 9-day novena and mass called simbang gabi during the Christmas season. She believes that it is a good way for us to be prepared for Christmas day which is the birthday of our savior, Jesus Christ. She also believes that waking up early and listening to the priest's sermon is a good sacrifice to give thanks for all the blessings we received for that year. Up to now, even though my mom is living with my aunt in our province, she still completes the 9 days dawn mass.

I was really hesitant when I was going with my mom when I was a child because it was really hard for me to wake up early and stay awake during the mass. I just follow my mom, no questions asked because once I complain, I would be given the "serious look don't ask why" from my mom. I just think that it is just 9 days and by the 10th day, it would be Christmas and I would get gifts from relatives and friends.

Now that I am an adult and have two kids of my own, I realized that my mom's teaching was really for the best for our family. I realized that going to mass early in the morning is such a small way to give thanks to all the blessings we received this year. My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful and healthy kids and a steady income for our expenses at home. Our kids have been healthy for the whole year and my wife gave birth with no complications last April. My parents' health is okay and my mother-in-law doctor's test were also good. Both of our jobs are quite difficult but our employers managed to give us good salaries and treat us well. Although not enough, we still have a small savings account which we intend to increase by next year. Everything turned out to be a blessing this year that we are very anxious to start the next year to achieve our plans. God has been so good to us that a 9-day novena and mass is such an easy thing to do to give thanks. Besides, I miss attending them since the time I transferred to my wife's place and stopped living with my mom and my sister.

2010 was a great year for our family and we are already excited to start 2011. Our son will soon attend his first year in school and our daughter will turn 1 year old this coming April. We have so many plans and we hope we achieve most of them by the end of the year. My wife and I intend to finish the 9 days Simbang Gabi Mass this year and every year after. This is to give praise and thanks to God who has given us so much and to teach this practice to our kids someday so that once they become adults, they will continue the tradition which our parents taught to us when we were still kids.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vizconde Massacre Verdict

Today was a day of mourning for Lauro Vizconde, the father and only remaining survivor of the Vizconde Family Massacre. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court and Court of Appeals ruling to implicate Hubert Webb and six other accused of the gruesome murder. The reason was the prosecution failed to prove that the accused were guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The murders happened June 30, 1991 and after 19 years, Lauro Vizconde is still seeking justice for his family.

The motion for acquittal started after the Supreme Court approved a DNA testing to be performed on the semen specimen obtained during the autopsy of the victims ( . Unfortunately the specimen was reported lost by the National Bureau of Investigation which prompted lawyers to submit the motion in reference that the evidence to prove that it was indeed Hubert's sperm found inside rape and murder victim Carmela Vizconde, will never be used to prove the accused innocence or guilt. The lower court and Court of Appeals decision entirely rests on Jessica Alfaro's testimony of what happened on the night of the murders. The Supreme Court cited several inconsistencies in the star witness' testimony which was the reason why they approved a DNA testing to be conducted.

Truly this is an example of a poor police system in our country. The NBI, with its belief that the case was closed after the lower court and Court of Appeals decision implicating the suspects, did not take care of vital evidence in their jurisdiction. They merely stated that the semen specimen was in the possession of the lower court which handled the case. But storage of vital crime evidences should be NBI's responsibility and not a trail court which handles hundreds of cases in a month. Because of this irresponsibility, the accused was freed and nobody will ever know the truth if Hubert Webb was indeed the one who raped and killed Carmela Vizconde. Although the Supreme Court handed out its decision, more than a million questions are left unanswered and people are thinking of who are really the people responsible for the murders.

I sympathize for Mr. Lauro Vizconde's situation and I pray that he will get his justice in due time. The Vizconde case is another example of how our justice system runs and how efficient our police force in doing their jobs. How many families will experience this kind of injustice? Will there be hope for the victims of unsolved crimes here in our country?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Vacation Travel

Christmas season is a time to spend quality time with your love ones. The Christmas break, usually starts on December 23 and will last until December 27 or if you have accumulated enough vacation leaves at work, you can extend your vacation until January 2, 2010. Everyone is busy and excited preparing for Christmas, going to church, buying gifts, attending parties and preparing for the traditional Noche Buena on Christmas eve. After spending Christmas day at home, families have an option to travel and relax to local tourist destinations. Instead of flying to Hong Kong Disneyland or other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, why not try nearby tourist destinations to help boost our tourism industry. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Caliraya Lake in Lumban, Laguna - Lake Caliraya is situated approximately 1,200 feet above sea level, and is perched high in the Sierra Madre. Travel from Manila will take you about 3-4 hours. The lake experiences cool climate all year round. ( Temperature here is almost as cold as Baguio City and the town is not over populated. If you are looking for first class amenities, you may check in at Caliraya Resort Club. If you are in a budget, there are other resorts around the lake that provides good accommodation and superb food.
2. San Juan, Batangas - It is located 43 kilometers east of Batangas City and 115 kilometers away from Manila. San Juan is famous for its Laiya Beach. Travel from Manila will be around 3-4 hours.

3. Alaminos, Pangasinan - Alaminos is home for the country's Hundred Islands. In fact, there are 123 islands that can be found of the coast Barangay Lucap, Alaminos City. ( From Manila, It will take you about 4-5 hours to reach the city.

These are just a few places near Manila where you can enjoy nature and travel with your family and friends. Going outdoors need not be expensive and it is a good stress reliever from the busy life we have in the metropolis. Sometimes, we need to learn to enjoy nature more for us to appreciate the gifts we have around us so we will do our part to conserve nature so our kids and grandchildren will also enjoy nature as much as it was enjoyed by our parents and grandparents.