Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong Leads EcoWaste Coalition's 9th “Iwas-Paputoxic” Drive vs Dangerous and Toxic Firecrackers

The back-to-back typhoons Nona and Onyok failed to dampen the spirit of newly-crowned Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong, the EcoWaste Coalition and over 1,000 students in promoting a safe and non-toxic way of heralding the New Year sans dangerous and polluting firecrackers.

In partnership with the school administration led by principal Gloria Huera, the EcoWaste Coalition today conducted its  “Iwas-Paputoxic” drive at the Qurino Elementary School (QES) in Quezon City with about 1,500 students and teachers in attendance.

“All firecrackers are totally unfit for kids like you because they are extremely dangerous,” Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition told the students gathered at the school’s covered court.     

“Firecrackers are not your regular toys that you can safely play with.  In fact, firecracker accidents are common resulting to physical injuries and even deaths.  From 2000 to 2014, the DOH had recorded over 10,000 cases of firecracker-related injuries from damaged eyesight to severed fingers, as well as some fatalities,” she said.

The annual event, now on its 9th year, complements the “Iwas-Paputok” program of the Department of Health (DOH), and is undertaken to raise public awareness on the risks and hazards posed by firecrackers to life, limb and property, as well as to the ecosystems.

During the event, beauty queen Angelia Ong joined EcoWaste Coalition’s leaders and DOH officials led by Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director, Bureau of Local Health Systems Development and Dr. Mario Baquilod, Director, Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, as well as representatives of the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection in urging the students to shun firecrackers for their safety and well-being.

In response, QES students together recited a “Panata” (pledge) “to celebrate Christmas and welcome the New Year in a clean and safe manner that will not cause injury to ourselves, our fellow beings and to Mother Earth.” 

To demonstrate a safe and non-toxic way of ushering in 2016, QES students held a countdown to the New Year that was capped with a lively noise barrage.  Using alternative noisemakers fashioned out of household items and recyclable junks, the students created a mixture of sounds to everyone’s delight.

Among the substitute noisemakers that the children played with gusto were the used can maracas mounted on a wooden handle; tambourine consisting of bottle caps; shakers made out of plastic bottles; pots and pot lids; and torotot (trumpet) crafted from recycled materials.   

They also performed a dance number to the tune of “Fantastic Baby” by the K-Pop band “Big Bang” as a way of ushering in the New Year without creating toxic pollution.    

“Firecrackers and fireworks are also toxic.  They are made by combining different chemicals such as potassium nitrate, sulphur, carbon, barium, copper and lead, to name a few, to produce heat and color.  The firecracker blast yields toxic fumes, including carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is bad for human health and the climate,” she said.

“Aside from the toxic smoke and smog, firecracker explosion generates lots of hazardous wastes that cannot be reused nor recycled, adding to the mountains of post-New Year revelry trash that have to be disposed of,” she added.

Instead of spending for dangerous, toxic and dirty firecrackers, the EcoWaste Coalition insisted that hard-earned money should be wisely spent to buy food for the Noche Buena and other necessities, as well as for helping poor and needy people in our midst.    

The EcoWaste Coalition’s “Iwas-Paputoxic” event held every December before the Christmas break was first conducted at Krus na Ligas Elementary School in Quezon City in 2006 and every year thereafter.

The schools that had participated in past “Iwas-Paputoxic” events include the Esteban Abada Elementary School (2007), Claret School (2008), Marcelo H. del Pilar Elementary School (2009), Kamuning Elementary School (2010), Pinyahan Elementary School (2011), Cubao Elementary School (2012), Commonwealth Elementary School (2013) – all in Quezon City- and Fernando Ma. Guerrero School in Manila (2014).