New year tradition continues in Dagupan

BY VENUS MAY H. SARMIENTO
DAGUPAN CITY – For 15 years now, residents of Pogo Grande, a village in Dagupan City, get up early on the first day of every year and prepare for a traditional revelry.
In Pogo Grande, new year strikes at 12 noon of January 1. This year, at least 100,000 firecrackers were carefully strewn together and hung in the streets along the 300-meter stretch of the village’s main road.
An hour before the main event, hundreds of spectators, not only from nearby barangays but from nearby towns like Calasiao and Sta. Barbara, gather in the street amidst the scorching heat of the sun. They each find a shaded area to cool themselves. Some come prepared with ear plugs to minimize the impact of the ear-splitting sound.
At the strike of 12, Barangay Captain George Galvan lit the first firecracker at the starting line. This signalled the rapid succession of firecrackers producing loud, explosive sounds.
For 20 minutes, a cresecendo of explosions of big-sized firecrackers and whistle bombs echoed throughout the village and the city.
A big crowd held out their camera phones to record the blast prompting a media man covering the event to say that DSLR and point and shoot cameras were outnumbered with the swarm of cell phone cameras.
After the blast, organizers were relieved to know that no one was hurt in the revelry.
“We made sure that a firetruck and an ambulance are following the route of the explosion to respond immediately to any untoward incident,” Galvan said.
He said most of the firecrackers were donated by balikbayan residents of Pogo Grande while some were brought out of personal contributions.
Barangay Kagawad Myrna Esteves said the event is a yearly tradition which aims to drive away the evil and usher in a glorious new year.
Amidst growing concerns over health and safety factors of firecrackers and other explosives, this ‘firecracker capital’ village in Dagupan vow to continue the new year noon time blast not only to provide entertainment to the people but also to carry on with the tradition that gives livelihood to most of its residents during the Christmas season. (MCA/VHS/PIA1-Pangasinan)

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