Filipinos Brace for the Most Quiet New Year's Day as Government Discourages the Use of Torotot

No fireworks, no parties, and no torotot.
IMAGE Shutterstock

No parties, no fireworks, and no torotots. As the pandemic stretches to the end of the year, it threatens to dampen the most festive season in the Philippines. 

On December 10, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III discouraged the use of torotots or party horns, fearing this would spread the COVID-19 virus when blown or shared with another person.

For years, the government has pushed torotots as a safer alternative to fireworks and firecrackers. This year, it wants people to beat drums or blow their car horns instead. 

150 Years of Creating Noise on New Year’s Day

Traditionally, Filipinos light fireworks and firecrackers and blow party horns to welcome the New Year. The fireworks industry in the country goes all the way back to 1867 when a local friar in Sta. Maria, Bulacan would awaken his parishioners in time for the Simbang Gabi during Christmas season. 

The friar’s love for fireworks earned him a reputation, such that a Bulakenyo named Valentin Sta. Ana asked him to teach him how to make the pyrotechnics. That was the start of the beginning of what would be a giant industry in the Philippines.

Valentin perfected the friar’s fireworks, producing more than just kwitis. He likely made other innovations such as trompillos and fountains. Valentin taught his sons Valerio and Fernando how to make fireworks, and by 1938, the Sta. Ana brothers founded their own pyrotechnics manufacturing company, the Santa Ana Fireworks Factory located in Balasing Santa Maria, Bulacan. Since then, Filipinos have used fireworks in fiestas, including New Year’s Day.


Government Considers Fireworks Ban

On December 8, President Rodrigo Duterte floated the idea of banning fireworks totally in the Philippines, just like how he had done it in Davao. 

“I was toying with the idea of making it just like Davao. Let’s just do it this way: At least, you still have one year. Maybe, next December I will ban fireworks,” said the president. “It is really a dangerous thing and for reasons of public safety and health. It is a problem of health and public interest and public safety.” 

According to Duterte, he might issue an executive order totally banning all fireworks in the country by 2021. 

No Parties Allowed

On December 15, PNP Chief Debold Sinas announced people caught attending parties will be arrested. “Parties have been prohibited so, of course, we will have [partygoers] arrested,” said Police Gen. Debold Sinas. 

During the height of government lockdowns in May, Sinas drew flak after photos of him circulated online, showing him allegedly throwing a birthday party during the lockdown. It was allegedly attended by at least 50 guests. According to Sinas, what transpired was not a birthday party but a mañanita

A mañanita is actually a very simple celebration, usually attended by immediate family members only. It is simply a way of greeting a birthday celebrant by serenading him with a special song. Later additions to the tradition are eating cake and giving presents.

Will Dinner Events Be Allowed?

Dinner events are technically considered a form of party or mass gathering. Will dinner events be allowed on Christmas and New Year’s Eve? To Sinas, the answer is as vague as the difference between a birthday party and a mananita. “I will leave it to the police commanders to decide,” he said

Recommended Videos

More from

View More Articles About:
More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor
View Other Articles From Mario
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us