Pogo Grande’s January 1 celebration toned down
By Yolanda Sotelo
DAGUPAN CITY – Old habits refused to die for residents of Pogo Grande village which celebrate new year’s day at high noon of January 1 with kindling of thousands of firecrackers hanged above the main road.
But the party was of much lesser scale, and the firecrackers were exploded only in front of the houses and no longer stringed and hanged over the 400-meter road.
When in the past years, up to 100,000 “rounds” of oversized “triangles” were used, only 3,000 rounds were used in front of the house of former barangay captain Jose Jesus (Jojo) Ramos, one of those who started the tradition 17 years back, said.
Ramos said the residents longed for the revelry during which firecrackers exploded for 30 minutes to one hour, starting at mid day of the first day of the year. But the barangay officials could not defy the call of the police to stop the practice.
Many villagers could not resist exploding big firecrackers in their front yards and in the streets, although not as plenty and not as defeaning as they did in the past years.
In neighbor barangay Malued, every 300 meters, the road was lined with stringed firecrackers called Judas belt, on which oversized triangles were tied at the end.
The residents, some carrying babies, stopped vehicles passing through the area when they kindle the firecrackers that explode for about five minutes.
When the Inquirer asked a resident why the activity was still done despite the police’s order, he said, “there are no police now.”
Supt. Niel Miro, city police chief, said a police patrol was going around the barangays where the residents have the unique new year celebration.
“Malungkot ngayon,” a resident said of the stoppage of the tradition. “It was like a fiesta here every January 1. Now its very quiet.”
But others are thankful. Charisse Fajardo said some residents leave the village on January 1 because they could not bear the noise and the air pollution created by the firecracker explosions.
Another elderly lady, who refused not to be named, said he would cover her ears as she cuddled her pets during the one-hour “putukan.”
She was not entirely against the celebration but gets afraid that accidents like fire could occur.
But it may not be the end of unique merrymaking for the Pogo Grande residents in the coming years.
Ramos said he would convince the village leaders to come up with another noise-creating event – the use of torotot (trumpets) by every resident.
“It may be too late to implement the torotot event this year. But maybe we would do it next year,” he added.
Village chair George Galvan said the village leaders decided to cancel the spectacle after the police asked them to put it to end.
“They have not shown us any document that the national leadership banned the use of firecrackers, but we agreed to stop the practice because we do not want to go against the law,” he said.
Days before January 1, he had bought 10,000 one-star triangles for the high noon revelry which a worker is stringing together. He said he would use them at midnight or give them away to his friends.
He said some villagers and their friends from other towns asked the village officials about the sudden termination of the unusual festivity, “but I explained to them that we have to abide by the law.
For almost two decades now, Pogo Grande did not produce thunderous noise when the clock strikes 12 at midnight of December 31.
But when the clock strikes 12 at noon on the first day of the year, all hell break loose, with about 100,000 of firecrackers ignited above the road, creating a series of deafening explosions that shake the ground and send thick, black smoke into the sky.
Cats and dogs are seen whimpering in anguish as their owners clap and cheer everytime a major explosion occurs in between smaller explosions, created by firecracker much bigger than the already illegal five-star triangles. A firetruck and an ambulance are parked nearby, ready for any emergencies.
After an hour of continuous explosions, residents and their visitors partake of tables lain with goodies.
But the unique celebration is no more.
Ramos, one of those who started the tradition and who yearly contributed thousands of firecrackers, said he did not order anymore when talks started about the national leadership banning firecrakers .
“I usually order up to 20,000 pieces of five star triangles and 5,000 much bigger ones, from two local manufacturers,” he said.
But when his “sukis” approached him last September, he told them about the possibility of cancellation of the High Noon revelry.
Ramos recalled how the practice started in the late 1990s: “We gathered unsold firecrackers and fired them at noon of January 1. We did not intend to invent a tradition but through the years, residents were getting more interested in what we were doing and we were attracting more spectators. And then we seemed to challenge ourselves to make the lines longer and the firecrakers, bigger.”
If there are people affected by the sudden stop of the boisterous party, it is the manufacturers who lost a “market” for their products.
Ramos said he usually advanced the payment for the firecrakers he ordered so they need not borrow from usurious money lenders.
“I told them I won’t be buying anymore,” he said.
Entry filed under: News.