The city of Bocaue, Bulacan just knows how to give back – with a bang!
Known as the fireworks capital of the Philippines, Bocaue chose to welcome 2017 Jan 1 with its very own pyromusical called “Pailaw Pasasalamat”, a thanksgiving event for its fireworks manufacturers and dealers, by the 12-kilometer Bocaue River in Bulacan. The event aimed to celebrate the vibrant fireworks industry in the city, as well as showcase the work of its various manufacturing firms.
Bocaue Mayor Joni Villanueva said Pailaw Pasasalamat, featuring a spectacular fireworks display show, was originally conceptualized as a New Year’s Countdown. “But we realized everyone had work on Dec. 31, all over the country. All those major fireworks display in major cities were being manned by mostly Bocauenos not only because the fireworks are made in Bocaue, but because we have the experts who fire the pyrotechnics. Others are busy selling to people who flock to Bocaue for our fireworks,’’ Villanueva said.
Leah Alapide, past president of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association (PPMDAI), consolidated Bocaue’s nine manufacturing firms and 100 distributors to make the pyromusical happen.
The fireworks industry accounts for millions in revenue for the Bocaue and thousands of jobs generated. An impending ban on firecrackers by President Duterte threatens to weaken this age-old trade, and the PPMDAI hopes that the ban will not affect the sales of pyrotechnics, even as Alapide clarified the difference between firecrackers and fireworks.
“Fireworks, which is what the city is known for, is all about the lights and colors when it explodes in the sky. This is different from firecrackers, which is about the sound and is a lot more dangerous,” explained Alapide. “We hope the government takes that into consideration.
Alapide and the PPMDAI also insist on the safety of fireworks coming from Bocaue. “Most of firecracker injuries come from mishandling. We’re avoiding this in Bocaue through strict standard imposed by our manufacturers, but also in handling the pyrotechnics. Year-long safety seminars are being held also,” added Alapide.
Mayor Villanueva said they had hoped to start an annual tradition and attract tourists from nearby Bulacan towns and Metro Manila as they promised to make it bigger next year. The city is also undergoing a renovation of its historic and natural attractions. Currently, its old churches and houses are being restored. The city has also been reviving the Bocaue River, the traditional venue for the Bocaue Pagoda Festival. Part of these efforts is building the Bocaue River Park, the venue for Pailaw Pasasalamat.
“We want the city to be known for more than just fireworks. We also have a rich history and beautiful natural sites. This is why we chose the riverbank as our location,” said Villanueva. “Not only does it add an effect to the fireworks display but it also helps promote our natural attractions.”
This year’s celebrations are considered the launching of the event. In the future, there will be more performances from music acts, a longer fireworks show, and more surprises for families. “In the coming years, we expect Alay Pasasalamat to be an even bigger event; We hope this will attract visitors to come to Bocaue and explore the sites,” the mayor added.