It’s over for ‘bin laden’ and other big bangers with funny names
BOCAUE, BULACAN—The age of powerful firecrackers with funny names is over, according to pyrotechnics industry leaders.
“Labintador”—a banger packaged as a triangle measuring 15 by 30 centimeters—is no longer sold at major fireworks outlets here, said Leah Alapide, president of the association of fireworks manufacturers and dealers in Bocaue, Bulacan province, known as the firecracker capital of the Philippines.
Alapide said people were looking for prohibited firecrackers that were named after politicians and notorious criminals, like “Bin Laden,” which was named after al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
But not a single member of the industry group had produced big bangers since President Duterte imposed strict rules on the production and sale of firecrackers, she said.
“A firecracker named Duterte will surely be a hit, but who would dare manufacture and sell it?” a firecracker enthusiast who asked not to be named said.
“I am sure no more [firecrackers that exceed safety standards] are being made. People are more fearful now that firework regulations are stricter. They fear people would rat on them. In fact, our members are ready to inform the police should they discover illegal products on the market,” Alapide said.
Mr. Duterte banned firecrackers when he was mayor of his hometown Davao City.
He promised to roll out the policy on a national scale when he ran for President in 2016.
But he did not ban firecrackers outright after he won the election.
Instead, he issued Executive Order No. 28, which required local governments to designate places where people could play with firecrackers on New Year’s Eve.
The Central Luzon Police have limited firecracker zones to 898 to reduce risk to life and property during the New Year’s Eve revelry.
Chief Supt. Joel Coronel, regional police director, said Aurora province had 23 firecracker zones; Bataan, 195; Nueva Ecija, 93; Pampanga, 30; Tarlac, 29; Zambales, 163; and Angeles City, 14.
Among the banned firecrackers were “Goodbye Philippines,” “Goodbye Earth,” “Goodbye Bading” and “Hello Columbia.”
The names were either jokes or social commentary. After a junior military officers’ mutiny in 2003, firecracker makers produced “Trillanes,” a monster banger named after Navy Lt. jg Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the leaders of the uprising against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who parlayed his public support into a successful campaign for the Senate.
The names were not always derived from controversy, though. Some powerful firecrackers were named after pop culture catchphrases like “Kapuso,” coined by GMA 7 television network, and “Kapamilya,” the response of rival network ABS-CBN.
Alapide said the industry was caught off-guard by the appearance last year of “Maute,” named after the terrorist group that had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State jihadi group in the Middle East and which, together with a faction of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf, had seized Marawi City and held it for five months before being wiped out by the military through US-backed airstrikes and ground assaults.
“We police our ranks. We issue stern warnings. We don’t know who manufactures the illegal products. But we keep a close watch. We will not tolerate [banned products that affect the industry],” Alapide said.
The Department of Health has recorded 17 firecracker-related injuries from Dec. 21 to 29. —WITH A REPORT FROM TONETTE OREJAS
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