Torotot Festival: Celebrating New Year the safest way

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

NEW Year celebrations in Davao City had been dormant for so long, but the recent revelry was erupted with rapturous cheers when the first "Torotot Festival" came into being.

Since the implementation of City Ordinance No. 060-02, the "use, manufacture, sale, distribution, and possession" of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices have been banned here, which made every past revelry silent but safe no less after its conception.

But even without firecrackers, this did not dampen the spirit of Dabawenyos to welcome the New Year. They still made noise by rustling up anything from empty cans, metal pots, vehicle and party horns, or whichever way they wanted them used to cast out evils and draw in positive vibes.

But New Year celebration for many Dabawenyos has gone to a higher level, with the holding of a "Torotot Festival" that gave merriment a whole new meaning for the people of Davao.

The festival seeks to set a new world record for the most number of party horn blowers in one venue, a title currently being held by Japan with 6,900.

Thousands flocked in droves to Roxas Avenue to participate in the 12-hour festival, which began at 1 p.m. on December 31 and ended at 1 a.m. of January 1, 2014.

This was the first time that the city placed its bid to have its name listed in Guinness World Records for the biggest assembly of party horn blowers.

Setting of record aside, many are hoping that the festival will make a new tradition that Dabawenyos can look forward to at the turn of the year.

Perhaps, the 7,568 people who turned up in the first "Torotot Festival" was a clear manifestation of a yearning from Dabawenyos that something new be done to usher in New Year.

Davao City's Torotot Festival
Thousands of Dabawenyos show unity as they simultaneously blow the torotot (party horns) in a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest assembly of party horn blowers during the celebration of New Year’s Eve held along Roxas Avenue in Davao City. (King Rodriguez)

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, known for his stance against the use of firecrackers, encouraged more participation from Dabawenyos to join in the festival, in which the organizers are planning to make an annual event.

"As time goes by, I hope that people will come and join the practice and maybe someday be thankful that we have the biggest number of party blowers. I encourage you to blow your horns, make noise. I'll be very happy to see you happy also," he said.

Duterte, along with Department of Tourism (DOT) assistant secretary Art Boncato Jr. and some city officials, graced the first-ever festival along Roxas Avenue on the New Year's eve.

During the previous New Year festivity in the city, Dabawenyos showed again how the safest way to start a new year be done, sans the bloodied, or worse, amputated body parts.

Department of Health (DOH) revealed that the number of firecracker-related injuries jumped to 933 as of January 3, 2014 report, a little higher as compared to last year's 919 injuries recorded from December 16, 2012 to January 5, 2013. Davao City, meanwhile, maintained zero-casualty rate over the years.

Even DOH assistant secretary Dr. Eric Tayag cited the city's strict implementation of the law against firecrackers.

"Marami ang mga bayan ang gusto nang tularan ang (firecracker) ban sa Davao," he said in a statement posted by ANC on its Facebook page.

This gained positive responses from the netizens nationwide who aired the same comments.

"It's about time," said Emmnuel Badoy.

Another netizen, James Mallorca, said "Davao City is one great example on how to celebrate New Year with a bang but without firecrackers! No casualty at all, not a single peso spent for any injured during the season! God Bless the people of Davao!"

Dellosa added the holding of "Torotot Festival" was in line with the ordinance that bans firecrackers.

"We believe in the advocacy of no firecrackers and zero casualty," he said.

Sans the blaring noise that firecrackers make, the festival is one great addition to Dabawenyos on how to usher in New Year.

"If wala tayong gagawin sa New Year, why not create one? The idea of Torotot Festival came in. Bakit hindi kaya tayo magsama-sama lahat ng taga-Davao, pumunta sa isang lugar at sabay-sabay natin salubungin ang New Year?," Dellosa added.

It's more like hitting two birds in one stone for those who were part of the event on New Year's eve. First, to welcome the coming of the 2014, and second, to set a new world record.

It's still uncertain though whether the Davao City did break a new world record with 7,568 assembly of torotot blowers as the Guinness will still have to validate the figures.

Organizers commissioned Promo Xchange Inc. (PXI), a third party agency, to gather evidences which they will submit to Guinness World Records in London.

Even this early, Dellosa is very optimistic that Davao City will make history by breaking a new world record to have the biggest assembly of party horn blowers in one venue, which will be known in three months' time.

"I am crossing my fingers till we get the final results from Guinness. But whether we get it or not, I can say that the first Davao Torotot Festival was successful because of the influx of people, and the festive and joyous mood of everyone blowing the torotots is unbelievable," he said.

"If ever we don't get it, we will try it again this year! This is always our challenge," Dellosa added.

Although the number of revelers fell short by 2,432 from the target of 10,000 party blowers, Dabawenyos are still hoping to make it to the Guinness World Records as the city with the biggest gathering of party horn blowers in the world; a title still held by Japan who got the record 6,900 in 2009.

The festival was made even livelier with events that showcased the talents and creativity of the Dabawenyos, plus the crowd also grew bigger as contingents from every barangay started coming in.

In the dance contest, Crossover placed first, trailing behind were groups MDAAA and Alternative Groove who placed second and third, respectively.
Barangay Angliongto was also named the barangay with most creative party horn who took home P25,000, Barangay 21-C at second place with P15,000, and Barangay Los Amigos at third with P10,000.

Barangay Communal, the barangay with the biggest number of contingents received P50,000, followed by Barangay Buhangin and Barangay Lapu-Lapu.
Some 30,000 party horns were made available for free during the celebration.

Meanwhile, Duterte said the holding of "Torotot Festival" was a manifestation of the 12-year-old strict implementation of Ordinance 060-02, which bans the use firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in the city.

"Ang mga tao gusto man gyud og kasadya, gamit nalang og torotot. Maayo na ang inyong ma-exercise ana kay inyong baga. Wala moy gasto. Maayo na malipay ko ana (The people want merriment, just use the party horns instead. That's good because you exercise your lungs and you don't have to spend for it. That'll make me happy)," he said.

The success of the first-ever Torotot Festival revealed the Davao way of New Year celebration that was safe and joyful.

Dellosa said he is hoping that the number of New Year revelers to join in the festival will grow to make the loudest noise at the stroke of 12 midnight. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

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