New Year is When One Begins to Know the Truth
Manila, Philippines – Award-winning evangelist says New Year is when one begins to know the truth.
New Year’s Eve in the Philippines is the eve when no one is safe outside the house. During this evening, Filipinos detonate their Sinturon ni Hudas (Judas’ Belt), Super Lolo, Bawang (Garlic Bomb), Pla-Pla, Five Star, and Whistle Bombs out in the streets. In most cities of Metro Manila, one cannot walk outside the house without caution at these hours in the middle of what seems to be a civil war.
There is more, however, to the year’s noisiest and most air-polluted night. Every year, stray bullets kill the celebrators.
In 2007 New Year’s Eve, “about 450 people were injured by stray bullets and firecrackers,” according to Raju Gopalakrishnan of Reuters (1/1/2008). Authorities said that it was most gratifying because “the number was far less than in previous years.”
In 2006, New Year’s Eve welcomed 600 wounded and at least seven killed. In 2007, “10 people were hit by stray bullets during the revelry,” according to national police Chief General Avelino Razon. Last year 2008, hospitals were again busiest the night of the celebration, as the number of victims reached up to 563, according to Xinhua.net (2/1/2009).
The after-celebration has also been a familiar scene in the country. Early morning, residents would take up their broomsticks and clean up the massive pile of garbage the New Year’s Eve left. Children would then go to the little mountains of garbage to search if there’s any firecracker left for them to blow—or to blow them.
At sunset, families would gather together to watch the news, anticipating how many have lost their fingers and have blinded their eyes. Loud cries and screams engulf the usual silent hospitals as doctors treat the victims of firecrackers and stray bullets, or as they cover with white blankets those who did not survive the night.
People with decapitated fingers and blown eyes are the common scenarios. So much for the advertisements prior to the celebration warning people to avoid accidents due to firecrackers. One television commercial a few years ago showed a child’s fingers counting to nine only; another showed a hand with bandages tainted with blood.
Sirens of fire trucks also contribute to the deafening night. People don’t enjoy seeing their houses in flames; they just want to throw firecrackers in the streets. The Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region (BFP-NCR) recorded 23 fire incidents in 2007 New Year’s Eve in Metro Manila alone, according to GmaNews.tv.
Despite campaigns to lessen accidents due to firecrackers, more fire incidents occurred at the outset of 2008, including the burning down of a church in Las Piñas City. Out of 32 incidents, 11 were caused by firecrackers.
Not only in the Philippines is the New Year’s Eve notorious. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, “at least 19 people were wounded by stray bullets during New Year's Eve celebrations,” according to The Miami Herald not very long ago.
In Orlando, Florida, a “stray bullet struck a young mother in the head,” as reported in Wftv.com on 2 January 2006. She was watching fireworks in their lakefront yard while holding her seven-month old baby in her arms when the bullet hit her eye.
In Central America, "at least 101 people died in events related to New Year celebrations," according to Chinadaily.com.cn (1/3/2009). In Nicaragua, 19 people died on January 1; one died of heavy drinking, two committed suicide, three died in traffic accidents, four were drowned and nine were killed. In Honduras, 30 people were killed in violent accidents and another 40 were injured during the celebration. In Guatemala, 38 people died during the New Year holidays; 34 were killed with fire guns, three died in traffic accidents and one was drowned.
And the list goes on.
In the United States, traffic accidents worsen during the New Year’s Eve celebration. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that New Year's Eve is by far the worst period for crashes involving alcohol. This was reported by Anthony Parenti of Mycentraljersey.com (12/29/2008).
Beyond all these, New Year’s fireworks extravaganza contributes much to air pollution. According to Stop-fireworks.org, “Health hazards caused by fireworks exceed by far the damage done as a result of explosions or burns.” Not only is our own health threatened by the revelry by exploding tons of fireworks, said the American Lung Association of Hawaii; even the environment suffers a great deal.
Not all countries celebrate New Year on January 1, however; only those that are governed by the Gregorian calendar. According to Wikipedia, the Roman calendar traditionally began on March 1, until it was later changed by Julius Caesar in 47 BC, creating the Julian calendar. Catholic Pope Gregory XIII then changed it again in 1582 to what is presently known as the Gregorian calendar, which begins on January 1.
The true New Year, on the contrary, according to Bro. Eli Soriano, host of the religious program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), is not January 1 or any other date. In his Bible Expositions being held in different parts of the globe, Bro. Eli usually encounters questions regarding the New Year. According to the preacher, in the Bible, “Christ is the New Year.”
Soriano, acclaimed by many as the only sensible preacher of our time, is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International.
Bro. Eli explains that once a person has accepted Christ in his life, to him it is the beginning of a new year. No more alcohol drinking, no more cigarette smoking and no more of the wicked ways that he formerly does. Unlike in the Gregorian calendar, a drug addict will still be a drug addict after the New Year celebration.
Instead of buying firecrackers to promote air pollution, why not build a free transient home or orphanage for the homeless? Instead of welcoming the New Year with dismembered fingers, bloody eyes and dirty nose, why not provide free feeding programs in the depressed areas of the country?
In the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila, a new free Transient Home is currently on its finishing touch. It is a sequel to the free Transient Home in Quezon City, Manila, a few blocks away from UNTV Studio, opened on October 29 through the efforts of Bro. Eli Soriano and UNTV host, Mr. Daniel Razon.
The free Transient Home is a temporary shelter from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for those who do not have a place to stay at these hours. It may serve as refuge for those who are involved in precarious cases like being victims of holdup, rape and other untoward incidents. Transients, or those who are being accommodated, are given free dinner and breakfast, comfortable beds and even personal needs. They are also provided with free medical check-ups.
In the ADD Convention Center also, an orphanage and a free hospital is located. The physically-disabled, the elderly widows and the orphans have physicians and assistants attending to their needs. Food is served on time, vitamins and all possible care is provided. This orphanage is one of the several orphanages Bro. Eli maintains in different parts of the country.
Perhaps, the best way to celebrate the New Year is to give to the needy and be a better person. January 1 is just another date in the calendar, unless we do something for the other 364 days and make the New Year more meaningful.
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