I JUST came back from a week-long Christmas vacation in Manila as the kids wanted to spend the holidays with their Lola and cousins. A Christmas break is a good time to recharge oneself after a yearlong daily grind especially when you age beyond 50.

We were treated to a New Year's spectacle of fireworks display. The big establishments outdid each other painting the skies with kaleidoscopic mix of colorful pyrotechnics. In nearly every private homes all sorts of fireworks, rockets and sparklers exploded in deafening cadence creating thick curtains of smoke and choking phosphoric air. Hours after the strike of midnight, which ushered in the New Year the streets, were littered with fireworks debris.

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Nothing happened in the neighborhood where we stayed. But when I switched on the TV to accompany by coffee the morning after, the gruesome incidents that occurred during the new year celebration hogged the headlines. Several persons were killed, thousands were seriously injured, hundreds were rendered homeless as their houses went up in smoke caused by wayward rockets. To date, the Department of Health is still counting the casualties all around the nation.

Last Monday, the DOH apparently had enough as the casualty statistics related to the New Year fiery celebration have not abated. At the end of the day, Tuesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque strongly recommended the ban of firecrackers and all sorts of fireworks display throughout the country to put an end to the insanity of spending so much money for a brief ecstasy that have lasting imprints of devastations and loss of precious life and limbs.

Diametrically opposite the DOH recommendation, however, is the proposal of Karlo Nograles to allow fireworks in Davao City to bring back the tradition of New Year's celebration. In support of Karlo's idea, former Mayor Ben de Guzman said that City Hall should listen to the suggestion of congressional candidate Karlo so as not to deprive Davao City residents equal enjoyment as the people in Tagum and Igacos. The rationale behind the idea of restoring the tradition was that after all there were no untoward incidents that happened in Tagum City.

I am not about to believe that cavalier reasoning. Granting that it was zero casualty in Tagum, there is no guarantee that the next time around it will still be the same. Be that as it may, it is crazy for the City Government of Tagum and Igacos to spend hundreds of thousands of pesos on pyrotechnics while there are hungry mouths to be fed. Igacos needs more barrio roads than fireworks.

Pyrotechnic pleases the eyes but it aggravates hunger of the stomach. This would sound irrelevant to people born with silver spoons in their mouths and living in houses made of marbles and bricks, which are virtually fireproof. The poor who would undoubtedly would enjoy the fiery spectacle oblivious to the fact that pyrotechnics is like playing with fire. Fire that can easily eat up their ramshackle homes.

We would rather be safe and sound. If you want to celebrate, blow a horn and make a rattling sound to drive away the bad spirits of the year past if such is your belief. Sounds corny? Go ask Secretary Duque.

What is clear is that Ben and Karlo want the city authorities to reconsider the pyrotechnics ban.

We can thus assume that if Ben, through some quirk of luck, goes back to the City Council as vice mayor, he will have the ordinance ban revisited. And who knows? Having thought of that, who could stop him from also looking at the smoking ordinance since not a few smokers enjoy cigarettes in the same way that many want the traditional New Year's revelry that includes fireworks?