DESPITE Rains, Storms, and Bombs, PHILIPPINES Welcomes 2019 with HOPE

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On midnight of Monday this week, December 31 of the year 2018 finally transitioned into January 1 of 2019, another New Year for the world to welcome and celebrate. As 12:00 AM struck at countries along the way, dazzling fireworks displays and lightshows were unleashed from famous buildings (like Dubai’s Al-Burj Khalifa) and landmarks (Paris’ Arc de Triomphe) to usher in the year 2019, including a surprise New Year’s Eve party in Pyongyang, capital of secluded North Korea. The Philippines would not be left out of such revelry, despite some bad weather and worse news. New Years are for jubilation.

CNN Philippines has offered a nice rundown on all significant events before and after New Year’s Day 2019. First, the evening between December 31 and January 1 was rather wet in some parts of the country. In Metro Manila for instance, portions of Luneta Park, a favorite destination for families who want to picnic and eat their Media Noche meal outside the house, portions of the grounds were cordoned off due to rain. But in other locations like New Year’s concerts and parties, other than a token bringing of umbrellas, revelers were happy to dance and sing while getting soaked.

The slight inclement weather also did not stop the traditional fireworks displays, along with the expected appearances of firecracker injuries in hospitals and clinics. But according to the Department of Health (DOH), they have had an easier time of it as 2018 came to an end. They started recording statistics of firework-related injuries on December 21, and by January 1 they estimated that the total cases they have handled numbered 139, down by 68% from the 428 injuries in 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-fireworks drive and promotion of noisemakers like trumpets as alternatives has proven to be an increasing success.

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From truly happy to mostly happy news, we go now to more sobering events. First is the latest death toll of Tropical Depression Usman, the last significant weather disturbance to hit the Philippines for 2018. Formed Christmas Day December 25, it raked across the Visayas the last full week of the month, leaving 75 dead and almost P250 million in agricultural damages as of January 1. And then, on the afternoon of December 31, an improvised explosive device detonated near a major mall in Cotabato City, killing two and wounding 32. The government believes the blast is an isolated incident and called on Filipinos not to over-speculate on its motive. Rumors have opined that the IED was another attempt to delay the transition period for implementing the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Despite these two downer events, the Social Weather Station (SWS) has recorded in its latest survey that 92% of their adult Filipino respondents are hopeful for 2019, and while slightly lower than the 96% SWS rating during the 2017-18 transition, it was still mostly positive.

Images: Philippine Star and Inquirer.net

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