Monday, November 15, 2010


CHRISTMAS HERE IN THE Philippines is prepared earlier than usual as compared with other countries. When the “-ber” ending months starts to be displayed in wall calendars, Filipinos start to move about as if Christmas is just around the corner. Trust the shopkeepers and mall owners, they stick to traditions.

Christmas Philippine-style is celebrated by releasing or exploding firecrackers in the air or on a street pavement. In Cebu, this will start in September winding down to New Year's Day and extended further to the Sinulog Mardi Gras, usually on the third Sunday of January and the streets and neighborhoods here are a very noisy affair during these times.

There's a drawback though when you use firecrackers and like gadgets that use black gunpowder. A lot of fingers get busted and rendered to bloody pulps and stumps. In the middle of bedlam, people fire guns into the direction of the sky and I wonder why they get so riled up at their own god? Then the law of gravity catches on the bullet and there are a lot of targets.

But we Filipinos are an ingenious people and we are known to convert scrap or discarded materials for useful purposes and one of these is a noise-making contraption that is made and designed to imitate the noise made by firecrackers. But a lot safer and more manageable.

In the old days you need a mature bamboo with three segments. Punch a hole through save the endmost and make a small hole on the surface near the last part where it is kept closed and tilt it 15 degrees. You pour kerosene on the small hole and blow air through it several times so vapor and air would mix and then light a small flame above the small hole and – BOOM! - you now have a native cannon. This is called a lantaka.

Fast forward to today. The lantaka is now more mobile, very light, small, metallic and very cool-looking. The same principle with the old gadget but, instead of kerosene, you squirt a few drops of fluid lighter and, instead of blowing air, you rock up and down the tube and lit a lighter on the hole and – BOOM! It sounds and operates more like a bazooka, is it not?

Why not make one? It is so easy. All you need are five discarded softdrink aluminum cans, a can opener, a six-inch nail, a hammer and packaging tape. Later, you need a bottle of lighter fluid and a disposable lighter.

You remove the top and bottom lids of the four cans with the can opener while leaving the bottom lid of the fifth can closed. Punch a hole on the middle of the bottom lid of the fifth can with the nail and hammer.

Fuse all the cans by wrapping it with packaging tape. Leave the the fifth can with a punched hole at the bottom end. Then re-wrap the whole thing over and over again until you feel that a part will not dismember itself from the rest. If not, wrap again and make sure it is sturdy.

Now test your noise-maker. Squirt twice into the small hole at the bottom end and then rock the tube up and down several times. The purpose for this is to mix the lighter-fluid vapor with air. Grip the tube with one hand just enough to remain it in your hand when it “fires” and not so strong as to deform it. With the other hand, light a flame near the small hole and expect a recoil.

Words of Caution!

  1. Never place an object inside the tube as if you are using this as a projectile. The thin structure of an aluminum can could not withstand the force of gas pressure blocked by the object and this would shatter into splinters and you might get hurt.
  2. Do not squirt a lot of lighter fluid into the tube so you could achieve a huge explosive effect. Just the same, the thin skin of the cans could not resist the huge amount of expanding gases. You could clean instead the tube of unburnt gases or vapor by turning it upside down and sweep it with a naked flame.
  3. This is a gadget designed only for entertainment and leisure and not as an improvised weapon. It is forbidden then to point the tube to another person as if imitating a weapon.
  4. Use good common sense all the time!

Disclaimer: The author of this article, however, wishes to free himself from any damage and/or litigation resulting from damage to property, injury or death that may occur during the operation of this gadget. This is only a visual and instructional aid of how to make a noise-making device as a safer alternative to firecrackers and the like employing black gunpowder.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer


Anonymous said...

awesome post! ako ning buhaton inig pasko. salamat.

PinoyApache said...

Now you will have a truly Cebuano Christmas in far-away Puerto Rico, sir bonvito.