Celebrating the New Year with a Filipino invention – the electronic firecracker

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AL S. VITANGCOL III

AL S. VITANGCOL III

AS I promised last week, I will wander away from discussing national and social issues for this paper’s ultimate publication for 2016. Well, it’s almost 2017 and we should be celebrating the New Year.

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Everybody wants to celebrate the coming New Year with a bang. Some celebrate it literally with a bang—from lighting up obligatory firecrackers to illegally firing guns.

But why do we want to create ear-splitting sounds on New Year’s Eve? According to Chinese legend, in ancient times, every New Year’s Eve, a monster called nian would come out of its hiding and wreak havoc in the villages. Once, the villagers were burning bamboo to keep themselves warm. When the nian approached the village, it was frightened by the loud crackling sounds produced by the burning bamboo. Observing this, the villagers then developed firecrackers to frighten the nian and other bad spirits during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

In the Philippines, before the advent of modern pyrotechnics, Filipinos used the bamboo cannon, popularly known as kanyong kawayan or lantaka, during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. The traditional lantaka uses kerosene or calcium carbide as the explosive agent. Just like the modern firecrackers, the lantaka can cause injuries if not properly handled.

Electronic firecracker
Dr. Erick San Juan hosted a Christmas party at the Rembrandt Hotel early this month. The Filipino Inventors Society Producer Cooperative (FISPC) gave him a gift–an electronic firecracker (e-firecracker).

The e-firecracker was fired and one cannot differentiate its sounds from the sounds of a real firecracker. One of its major advantages is that it does not pose a safety hazard and cannot cause any physical injury. Likewise, it is environmentally friendly. It neither pollutes the air nor produces any carbon emission. Finally, it can be reused, time and again, year after year.

The e-firecracker is shaped like a bamboo canon and powered by electricity. It is also equipped with twinkling light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to create a cracker- lighting scenario. Once plugged to a power source, the e-firecracker can be activated by lighting up a thermal fuse at its rear end. The cannon contains pods and each pod contains a high-voltage generator, which sparks itself internally at random intervals. These high-voltage sparks create crackling soundsthat mimic firecrackers. Lastly, the LEDs at the front tip of the canon create flashing strobe lights.

The e-firecrackeris solely distributed by the FISPC, the marketing arm of the Filipino Inventors Society Inc. (FISI). The FISI is the oldest and largest organization of Filipino inventors, innovators, scientists, technologists and other intellectual property exponents recognized by the government.

The Filipino inventors law
The government, through Republic Act 7459, The Inventors and Invention Incentives Act of the Philippines, recognizes the Filipino inventor and provided incentives, which can be availed of by the latter. The Act is a consolidation of House Bill 24801 and Senate Bill 1758, which was enacted into law in 1992.

Following Section 3 of that law, an inventor refers to the patentees, heirs or assignees of an invention letters patent, utility model letters or industrial design letters patent.

According to the same law, inventors, as certified by the Filipino Inventors Society, shall be exempt from payment of license fees, permit fees and other business taxes in the development of their particular inventions. This is an exception to the taxing power of the local government units. The certification shall state that the manufacture of the invention is made on a commercial scale. Inventors shall be exempt from paying any fees involved in their application for registration of their inventions.

Further, to promote, encourage, develop and accelerate commercialization of technologies developed by local researchers or adapted locally from foreign sources including inventions, any income derived from these technologies shall be exempted from all kinds of taxes during the first ten (10) years from the date of the first sale.

The tax exemption privilege pertaining to the invention shall be extended to the legal heir or assignee upon the death of the inventor. The technologies, their manufacture or sale, shall also be exempt from payment of license, permit fees, customs duties and charges on imports.

It should be noted that the law established an Invention Development Assistance Fund (IDAF), which can be used for extending financial assistance to potential or actual inventors, who are in the initial experiments and prototype development and other inventor-development related activities for invention or innovation. The question now is, where is this fund? Is IDAF still subsisting?

Likewise, the Invention Guarantee Fund (IGF) created by Republic Act 3850, as amended, deposited with the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the interest earnings thereof, is to be made available to finance and guarantee the loan assistance of any patented Filipino invention duly certified by the Filipino Inventors Society. A continuing annual appropriation in the amount of not less than $10 million should have been provided in the annual budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for financing programs for Filipino inventions. Is this being followed by DOST?

It is distressing to see that our own Filipino inventors are neglected by the DOST. This is one of the reasons why our inventors are going abroad to have their inventions commercialized or even selling their patents to big businesses.

This is the sad state of our Filipino inventors. Meanwhile, the chairman of FISPC has high hopes for these inventors.

The FISPC is headed by Mr. Francisco “Popoy” Pagayon, an accomplished inventrepreneur (inventor/entrepreneur).

Pagayon said: “Time and again, we gather together with our loved ones and friends during the holiday season. It is a time of giving and sharing what we have with the people we know have less in life. Giving and sharing is Christ-like. He has given His life to us because He loves us so much. Today, we have the chance to share ourselves to others. Not by giving our own life but by sharing what we know can make other people happy.”

He enjoins the Filipino inventors to intensify their efforts to establish themselves and continue their creations in science, engineering and technology because he believes that soon they will have their own place under the sun.

I wish you all, my dear readers, a happy and prosperous New Year.

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