Rain experienced during the New Year holidays helped bring down, and dramatically, the number of injuries as Filipinos ushered in 2019.
According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, firecracker-related injuries dropped 68 percent to 139 cases this year from 428 last year.
Duque added that an order from Malacañang, which limited the use of firecrackers to community displays, also helped keep the number of injuries down.
This was good progress and we look forward to succeeding years when Filipinos completely do away with reckless practices for the sake of misguided superstition or thoughtless habits—even without rain to dampen their zeal.
What the rain was not able to quell, however, was revelers’ despicable habit of leaving their trash after the celebrations. The truckloads of garbage collected at Rizal Park insulted the hero the place was named after—and betrayed Filipinos’ incorrigible habit of expecting other people to clean up after them.
This was, of course, not the first time. Christmas celebrations also highlighted the same tendencies. At last 12 trucks of garbage was collected from the area on Dec. 25 and 26, according to officials of Task Force Manila Cleanup.
The National Parks Development Committee tried to put a spin on the exercise, saying the several days of work “is worth all the joy and happiness that our countrymen experienced with their loved ones and friends at the park.”
But nothing stops us from feeling joy and happiness with our loved ones and friends anywhere—certainly not a sense of responsibility and mindfulness to pick up after ourselves.
It’s not a difficult thing to do—perhaps what is difficult is shifting mindsets from one of dependence on others to one of self-reliance. In this case, Manila officials, and local executives in other places, have failed spectacularly to make people responsible for their garbage as it didn’t come naturally to them.
This failure to take responsibility for our own spheres can be extended and interpreted many ways beginning from the literal. It could be blamed for our inability to progress, or for our sorry tendency to fall back into the same patterns politically.
The New Year brings with it hope and a determination to do better. If we’re looking to start at the small, mundane details before we dare effect changes in big things, then cleaning up our own mess would be a good way to begin.