DAGUPAN CITY — Residents of Dagupan hailed the pledge of Mayor Belen Fernandez to stop a noon-day New Year tradition in Barangay Pogo Grande here of exploding simultaneously all firecrackers that were not sold until January 1 for the safety of the people and their guests in that village.
Fernandez said the January 1 noon-day simultaneous firecracker explosion, which is usually a crowd-drawer, runs counter to “Oplan: Iwas Pautok” launched by the Department of Health and the city government last December 12 which the city of Dagupan vowed to promote.
Supt. Neil Miro, chief of police of Dagupan City, was reported to have already talked to Pogo Grande Barangay Chairman George Galvan to relay to him the mayor’s intention to stop his village’s tradition.
He and the other village chiefs were instead enjoined by Oplan : Iwas Paputok Task Force to set up a community fireworks display on the eve of New Year and not at any other time, including noon of January 1.
The Task Force is also seeking a ban on individual and residential use of firecrackers to minimize death, injuries and loss of limbs.
Mayor Fernandez noted that in the January 1 noon tradition at Pogo Grande, powerful firecrackers such as big triangles, pla pla, Judah’s belt and even Goodbye Philippines are being tied together for them to explode one after the other in rapid succession.
Pogo Grande is noted as Dagupan’s firecracker manufacturing hub though this year, according to Bureau of Fire Protection fire marshal Romeo Tungpalan, there is only one registered firecracker manufacturer in the village.
It is still a puzzle how it came to be that one morning of January 1, a village man started collecting all unsold firecrackers and gave these to the designated village hermano mayor, who then allows these to be exploded at one time in their street to provide a sort of entertainment to residents and their guests.
This became a “tradition” in Pogo Grande that has been done for some 25 years already, starting during the administration of then Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr.
However, unlike many other traditions in Dagupan City and Pangasinan, this noon-day tradition in Pogo Grande was not associated to any myth nor legend handed down from one generation to another.
Barangay Captain Galvan himself said this is one way of helping the thriving firecracker industry in his village by assuring market for the manufacturers’ left-overs to at least enable them to at least recover their investments.
So far, only a few people were hurt in this January 1 noon firecracker explosion as the police as well as BFP, including the City Health Office which usually fields an ambulance to the firecracker explosion site, are keenly monitoring the activity.
At the same time, Fernandez cautioned his constituents against selling firecrackers on New Year’s eve but rather encouraged them to sell fruits.
Fruits enjoy brisk sale before New Year’s day anywhere in the Philippines. In fact, the parking area of the Fernandez family-owned CSI Market Square here is being opened to vendors selling all kinds of fruits on the 31st of December. Leonardo Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com