Monday, January 1, 2007

‘Twas the night before…

THIS MAY WELL BE one of the last posts to go online from this part of the world, or the first to be viewed in those that have already changed their calendars to 2007.

At a little over half past 10, Philippine time, the air is starting to be filled with soot and smell of gunpowder. Weren’t ‘crackers supposed to be banned again this time?

I write from the Philippines and it is a strange country indeed. If one wants to get a feel of a war zone, come to the Philippines on New Year’s eve to have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience of what it may be like in some other parts of the world that are truly at war. Perhaps soldiers of other countries should be sent here at this time for an R and R before being deployed.

Just a week ago, Filipinos were the most pious of the whole Christian lot. Next to the observance of Holy Week, Christmas is when faith-bound traditions are observed the most. We have the Christmas novena that fills churches to the brim. Really, no need for product giveaways to the Misa de Gallo virgins who, perhaps, struggled being there to avoid parents’ prodding or get a good seat, or to veterans, who check in like it was a typical day at work.

A week later, however, the other face of the Pinoy is shown, much like Janus. No different from what was; in fact, pretty much the same, save for the innate, abnormal desire to out-noise and out-blast the neighbor via ‘crackers successfully purchased, sometimes like contraband, under the noses of authorities (read: may maim or kill). By the way, it isn’t complete without the baseline thuds from super-size woofers.

The Pinoy Janus becomes like a prisoner handed absolute pardon. He feels, and is, liberated, unleashed, and will provide an unforgettable, devil may care New Year’s Eve to everyone without exception. It is, almost with sado-masochistic abandon, that the week-ago pious Filipino becomes God's gift to air and noise pollution.

OK, so there goes another blast. But that one was more like a shockwave. Thirty minutes and counting, it sounds like a contest now: biggest blast, longest frequency range, and strongest explosion.

So, this, on the night before, we have seen report after report of year enders and countdowns. The world order has changed in record time: along with the climaxing cacophony of simultaneous thunder now, previous other blasts around the world were made, enshrined in record books all falling under 31 December 2006: Madrid airport bombing, Bangkok bombing. Previous to that, the very ordinary bombings on Iraq’s streets after Saddam’s hanging killing, what, 30? 40? 60? Who knows? (Elsewhere, on the other hand, water events to douse the New Year’s Eve spirits: floods in Samar and parts Southeast Asia and a ferry sinking off Indonesia.)

I must have counted six ‘cracker debris that fell on our roof just writing the paragraph before this. The clock says 20 minutes to midnight and my eyes are starting to get teary. Meanwhile the neighbors are more and more successful at driving away the spirits, the birds and stray dogs to Netherworld. It can only get better next year, when bigger and more powerful blasts can be had for a moment’s joy.

Five minutes to midnight, and, really, countless mini debris falling on our roof. It’s kind of getting anti-climactic. If any real menace is happening in my neighborhood at this hour, one cannot tell the difference. We await what 2007 has in store for us.

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