Groups Campaign for a Non-Toxic Welcome of the New Year

Manila. The dangerous, polluting and pricey ritual of blasting firecrackers to greet the New Year is grossly out of place as the country faces tough financial times amidst the record-high number of hungry families and increasingly degrading environment.

This is the joint message of the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish and the EcoWaste Coalition as they staged today a vibrant “Iwas PapuTOXIC” welcome of 2009 in front of the historic church in Malate, Manila sans toxic smoke, litter and bloodbath from perilous firecrackers.

Twenty five children from the parish community displayed their emission-free recycled noisemakers such as “torotot” from used paper, tambourines from used bottle crowns and maracas from used cans, while others held mock firecrackers that say “toxic to humans,” “toxic to animals” and “toxic to the environment.”

“Given the sad state of the economy and the environment and the growing number of hungry households, I find it totally inappropriate to be spending for costly firecrackers and fireworks while poor people forage the bins and dumps for food,” stated Father John Leydon, MSSC, the Parish Priest, who also expressed deep concern over the persistent New Year’s carnage.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey shows that 23.7% of Filipino families or 4.3 million families are suffering from involuntary hunger – the highest ever figure recorded since SWS started its quarterly reports on hunger in 1998.

“The money thrown away for few minutes of flicker and sparkle that emit toxic smoke and dirt which can cause ill health, while terrifying powerless animals, should be spent wisely for a healthy and nutritious media noche on New Year’s eve,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“Also, funds allocated for multi-million peso pyrotechnic display being planned by public and private entities are better spent to bring real food to the tables of hungry Filipinos,” Calonzo added.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the results of the random survey it conducted on December 27 on media noche favorites such as fruits and spaghetti that can be bought in Nepa Q-Mart, comparing these with the costs of firecrackers being sold in Bocaue, Bulacan.

For instance, a box of piccolo which costs P70 per box can buy 14 pieces of ponkan, while judas belt which sells at P300 per roll is more than enough to cook a full spaghetti meal for a family of six. Both piccolo and judas belt are banned, along with other equally dangerous firecrackers
such as atomic bomb, bawang, boga, kwitis, lolo thunder, og, plapla, super lolo, watusi and whistle bomb.

Both the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed support to the ongoing campaign of the Department of Health and other agencies for a non-hazardous way of hailing the New Year.

“We exhort all parents and kids to switch to non-injurious, non-wasteful and non-toxic New Year revelry to avoid the yearly scene of carnage and trash, as well as to honor and thank Mother Nature for her bountiful gifts to our nation and people,” the groups said.

The groups emphasized that firecrackers pose serious threats to life, limb, health and property, and present a climate and chemical challenge with the emission of harmful substances that can aggravate the air quality.

The loud and frightening detonations, the groups also pointed out, scare and disturb defenseless animals such as cats and dogs who have more acute sense of hearing than humans.

The groups distributed leaflets to the parishioners suggesting the adoption of the following non-injurious, non-wasteful, non-toxic and easy on the pocket replacements to costly and deadly firecrackers:

1. Blow traditional horns or “torotot.”
2. Make and shake homemade maracas from used tin cans.
3. Jiggle the tambourine made from flattened bottle caps.
4. Clang improvised cymbals using pot lids or pans.
5. Knock empty coconut shells.
6. Play the guitar or any available musical instruments.
7. Play your favorite music.
8. Beep the bicycle or car horns.
9. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
10. Sing, dance and shout “Happy New Year!”


1. Picollo at P70 per box of 10 packs; can buy 14 pieces of ponkan at P5/piece or 1 kilo of ripe mango

2. Luces at P35 per set; can buy 7 pieces of apple at P5/piece

3. Five Star at P25 per set; can buy: 4 pieces of pear at P6/piece (change of P1)

4. Crying Cow at P25 per set; can buy 2 pieces of orange at P10/piece (change of P5)

5. Judas Belt at P300 per roll; can buy 1 kilo of ground beef at P185/kilo, 1 kilo of spaghetti at P55/kilo, 1/4 kilo of hotdog at P40/kilo, plus extra P20 for condiments

6. Kwitis, 20 pieces at P3 per piece; can buy 1/2 kilo of dressed chicken at P120/kilo

7. Fountain at P35-40 per piece; can buy 1 box of regular cheese (180 grams) at P36 per piece.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376