The traffic. The shopping rush. The noche buena preparations. The unscrupulous who take advantage of anyone who lets down their guard. These are just a few of the things that can turn your smile upside down during the holiday season.
Good thing we put together these safety tips to keep in mind when celebrating Christmas in the Philippines!
Stay updated on the weather.
On average, the Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons a year, with most of them coming in during the "ber" months. For example, as of this writing, Typhoon Nina (international name "Nock-ten") has made landfall over the country, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rainfall on Christmas Day.
To stay safe and minimize any "incidents" during this time, here's what you can do.
- Take note of what "signal" is hoisted up your area. The higher it is, the stronger the rains and winds that'll come your way. You can tune in to local news channels/the radio, or follow the updates posted by the PAG-ASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration) online.
- Re-schedule any trips you've planned within the period when the storm is estimated to stay in the country. Even if the weather looks good for the time being, you never know when you'll literally have the rain down on your parade!
- Stock up on food and supplies you'll need in case of a power outage. Ideally, the food you have on hand won't require cooking, and can last for at least a week. Also, you should have a working flashlight, batteries to power the flashlight, and candles and matches as backup light sources.
- Keep other safety tips in mind. We've listed some of them here.
Use high-quality Christmas lights.
If you want to buy Christmas lights in the Philippines, make sure they have valid ICC & PS seals. Otherwise, there's a good chance they weren't manufactured with the highest quality standards in mind, and you might have an accident on your hands come the festivities.
The best place to shop for Christmas lights are the malls. Although they're pricier compared to the ones you can buy in places like Divisoria, you can be reasonably sure that they comply with the minimum quality standards.
Use fireworks safely.
Make sure the fireworks you buy aren't prohibited in the Philippines. As of 2011, illegal fireworks include the "Super Lolo," "Atomic Big Triangulo," "Goodbye Philippines," "Giant Whistle," "Og," "Pla-Pla," "Five Star," and "Atomic Bomb."
Even if the fireworks you buy are legal, you should still be careful with them. Find a wide, open space where you can light firecrackers without harming anyone else. Keep your pets and children away from explosions. Dispose of any firecracker remains properly to avoid fires and unwanted explosions.
Stay indoors as much as possible.
Unfortunately, Christmas in the Philippines can get violent, and not just because of firecrackers. Some people use gunshots instead of firecrackers to usher in the New Year, leading to injuries caused by ligaw na bala ("stray bullet").
In that case, it's best to stay indoors until the explosions stop. If you do have to step outside, make sure you're outside the range of gunfire, or finish your trip as quickly as you can. You can always celebrate Christmas in a safer way inside your house.
Use firecracker substitutes.
The point of using firecrackers is to make enough noise to drive away the evil spirits. So if there's a safer way to do the same thing, why not take that option instead?
If you have trumpets, tambourines, and other musical instruments, you can play those to celebrate the New Year. Not only are they less likely to cause accidents, but they're also usable all year round. Essentially, you save money and your life at the same time. What's not to like?
Burglar-proof your house.
Since Christmas is a time for parties, where people from all walks of life are welcomed into Filipino homes, you have to be doubly on your guard.
Hold invitation-only parties, and enforce a strict "No invitation, no entry" policy. Lock up the rooms where you stock your valuables. Ask a household member or two to watch out for any suspicious activity from guests.
Bring extra taxi fare.
On the one hand, Manila's roads are unusually spacious during the holidays. On the other hand, drivers who ply along those roads tend to expect additional "compensation" in return for choosing work over spending time with their families.
If you want to take a taxi round trip around Metro Manila, prepare your usual taxi fare (around Php100) plus an extra 50 – 100 pesos for the driver's trouble. This may sound like too much, but if it means having a safer trip along the way, why not?
How do you stay safe during Christmas? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section below!