Monday, January 2, 2012

Deadly beauties- a photo story on pyrotechnic

As the year ends so does my third story for the year 2011...

Deadly beauties

Every time there is a big event such as New Year or fiestas people always celebrate it with a loud bang from firecrackers and exhibitions from fireworks display.They do it out of traditions or just the simple thrill of listening to its loud noise and watching the beauty it possess in the night sky. But how many people really know what's behind this complex beauty?

According to the Department of Health (DOH), a total of 476 people, including children, were injured by firecrackers and stray bullets during the Philippines’ observance of the holiday season. Out of this number, 454 are cause by pyrotechnic products. The figures already decline by 13 percent from last year's data of 536.The accidents are largely cause by firecrackers especially Piccolo, a type of pyrotechnic which is small but can cause a loud bang and severe injuries. The victims are suffering from eye injuries or loss of fingers and most of them are children. A medical personnel from Jose Reyes Memorial Medical center is saying that the government should educate the public all year-round on the dangers and hazards posed by the use of fireworks and firecrackers.

A campaign launch by DOH this year called Aksyon Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) gives warnings and alternatives in pyrotechnics such as prohibiting children to use any kinds of firecrackers and use other noisemakers such as "torotot" as a substitute.

Even though every year Filipinos are facing the same dilemma out of this products, the industry cannot be simply taken out because its been in the country since pre- Spanish era, being brought by the Chinese and taught to our ancestors.

Pyrotechnics has its origin in Santa Maria, Bulacan it started as early as 1876 by Valentin Sta.Ana. He then passed it down to his children which established the first fireworks factory in this town. As time passes by they gain more knowledge on fireworks making that the industry boom and give birth to other factories and stores in Bocaue, Baliuag, Norzagaray, Angat towns and spread all over the provinces in the country.

The industry faces a lot of difficulties from the terrible accident that occur in Meycauayan City that killed 26 people to the banning of production during the Marcos Era. But people are still pursuing this kind of business that is why in 1992 the Philippines created Republic Act 7183 - an act regulating the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices, also known as Firecrackers/Pyro Law.

Since then about 500 manufacturers can be found in the towns of Bocaue, Santa Maria and Baliuag some of them even join international competitions such as the Macau International Fireworks Display.

It cannot be denied that this line of business pose a lot of safety and health issues to the workers hence they establish a Pyrotechnics Regulatory Board to address these issues. The board duty is to make safety as a top priority of every manufacturers not just for the sake of their workers but also for the people who uses their products. They also provide ways to promote the industry by making quality a top priority of the makers rather than quantity in order to be in a competitive level to China.They also encourage the makers to produce much safer pyrotechnic product. One manufacturer and distributor called Nation Fireworks are focusing more on making fireworks display rather than firecrackers.

As of 2000, the industry is downgrading due to illegal makers and "fly by night" type of manufacturers and dealers. But groups such as Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc. (PMDAI) is working hard to professionalize the industry by mandating every makers to register their businesses legally. They also hold safety workshops and seminars all over the country to educate the makers on how they can maintain their businesses and achieve high class quality fireworks.

Even with these efforts a lot of manufacturers and dealers are thinking of giving up the business and take other jobs because of the difficulties they are facing. Its not easy to give it up especially if its been in their family for centuries and it will always remain as part of the traditions. One can never deny the yearly causalities that the country is suffering because of this industry but this can be avoided if only everyone can be responsible in making and handling this delicate products.

This photo essay showcase the two sides of this complex industry, the beauty of its creation and the danger that comes with it.

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