MANILA, Philippines-Filipinos ushered in 2014, the year of the wooden horse, with the usual flair and festivity—from hearing mass, feasting on traditional media noche with family and friends to lighting fireworks and partying, as the clock struck midnight in this Catholic-dominated country.
In capital Manila, event organizers busied themselves in staging concerts, dinners, and open bars to “buoy” everyone’s spirit for the new year, synchronizing the clock also to the “10-second countdown” implemented Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa), standardizing the country’s time.
The countdown began at 11:59:50 p.m in consonance to RA 10535, or the Philippine Standard Time Act of 2013 “in a bid to implement the Juan time.”
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno led Manilenos in welcoming 2014 at Salubong 2014—Countdown ng Masa at Divisoria, with fireworks display and band concert.
While for its New Year’s countdown presentation, giant media network GMA7 with its artists lined up a nationwide televised show by the sea, along SM Mall of Asia’s Seaside Boulevard, lighting up the night with dance numbers of the different festival traditions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, coupled with ornate indigenous costumes and modern designs for the fashion show.
Top bars and hotels across Manila like Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Le Bar, Republiq Club, Solaire, Vask in Bonifacio Global City, Discovery Suites, The Peninsula Manila’s Salon de Ning, and Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay each staged their own version of countdown celebration as with the rest of the establishments across the country.
In Eastwood Mall’s Open Park, a grand fireworks display lighted up the sky at the stroke of midnight punctuated by live performances from Up Dharma Down, Bamboo, South Border, Mitoy Yonting, and American Idol Season 11 Runner-Up Jessica Sanchez, and whose proceeds from the New Year Countdown merchandise will go to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
At the Freedom Park in Davao city, aiming for world record, the local government set up a torotot festival on New Year’s Eve, as residents welcomed the New Year without lighting fireworks.
“Davao City is going one step further this year by welcoming 2014 with party horns (torotot),” the city government said on its social media account, this as residents bid for a world record “for the biggest number of people blowing party horns at the same time.”
In typhoon-struck Visayas, new year’s celebration was not also hampered despite the incessant rains for the past weeks and with the destruction around.
Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez, his cousin Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and the rest of the locals were elated over the fireworks display sponsored by a multi-awarded pyrotechnics manufacturer Dragon Fireworks, boosting the morale of the residents in welcoming 2014 with renewed hope and optimism.
People also trooped into the concert by Rico Blanco, who is from the region.
“I sincerely hope that other civic-minded and sympathetic companies out there will continue to join us in aiding and rebuilding the lives of our constituents in Tacloban City,” Cong. Romualdez said in a statement.
“We still have a lot of work to do. But I am confident that Dragon Fireworks has just set a good example for their colleagues in the business community to follow,” Romualdez added.
“We hope we can put a smile on the residents’ faces and help reassure them that a bright tomorrow still lies ahead,” Dragon Fireworks Managing Director Joven Ong said.
Romualdez, the leader of the Independent Bloc in the House of Representatives, expressed his heartfelt appreciation to DragonFireworks in behalf of the people of Tacloban City.
Palo Archdiocese its spokesperson Fr. Amadeo Alvero also sent New Year’s message to the public, bringing good tidings to the faithful.
“Many people would say that 2013 was the worst year for us here in Tacloban, Leyte, Region 8 and the rest of the country. But for me, the year 2013 was the great opportunity to make 2014 the best year for all of us to renew ourselves before God and the best year to work together for a better Tacloban, leyte, Region 8 and Philippines.”
“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Motherhood we celebrate every New Year, accompany us in achieving our hopes and aspirations for our city, province, region, and for the whole of our beloved country. God bless the Philippines! Happy New year!” Alvero said.
For her new year’s resolution, Danika Christyn Astilla, a Tacloban resident and Yolanda survivor, said she will “drop all the negativity.”
“Do what’s necessary and move forward,” she said.
Elsewhere in the globe, crowds have gathered in public spaces in major cities, greeting the new year with music, fireworks, and revelry.
In Sydney, Australia, about 1.6 million people turned up for a celebration that, for the first time in a decade, includes fireworks launched from the sails of the city’s famed waterfront opera house.
In Hong Kong, Moscow and London, big and glitzy celebrations were also prepared.
In New York City, million of people gathered in Times Square to watch the giant ball dropped at the stroke of midnight.
In Japan, some of its populace went into eating noodles and seafood — thought to bring good luck in 2014. Others offered prayers at Buddhist shrines and temples.
In Cape Town, South Africa, a particularly poignant celebration which include a tribute to anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, who died December 5, was also staged.