The local Catholic Church has apologized after a priest was filmed riding a hoverboard in church while celebrating Christmas Eve Mass.
In clips that have gone viral on YouTube and social media sites, a middle-aged man in a white cassock sings a Christmas song while riding a self-balancing electric scooter between packed pews.
The Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna said the priest rode the hoverboard inside his Miraculous Medal church in the town of Biñan “as a way of greeting his parishioners.”
“That was wrong. The Eucharist demands utmost respect and reverence… it is the Church’s highest form of worship,” a diocese statement read.
The statement was released on Wednesday by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which named the priest as Father Albert San Jose.
“Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people,” it said.
“The priest said that it was a wake-up call for him; he acknowledged that his action was not right and promised that it will not happen again.
“He will be out of the parish and will spend some time to reflect on this past event,” the statement added.
It said the priest also offered an apology.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Consumer Protection Group on Wednesday warned parents and children on the use of hoverboards amid several health and safety concerns overseas.
In a joint advisory, both agencies advised consumers who own or are planning to buy hoverboards to exercise “extreme caution” and to follow instructions on how to use them to prevent falls, fractures, concussions and other serious injuries.
“The risks of falls are highly likely as [a hoverboard]relies heavily on balance… Use appropriate safety equipment such as helmets, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads to minimize the risk of an accident,” the advisory stated.
A hoverboard is a two-wheel electronic transportation device, usually considered as a toy for children, that requires riders to keep their balance when using them.
The two agencies also advised against over-charging the device that may lead to overheating, fires and explosion.
Hoverboards run on 36 volts or higher lithium-powered batteries that are not recommended for children below 14 years old, according to the DOH-Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“It should not be given to those below 14 years old [because]many accidents and fractures have been reported [abroad]. It should be used with caution even among adults. Proper orientation as to charging and dangers of lithium batteries should also be told to prospective buyers,” Health Secretary Janette Loreto Garin told The Manila Times.
To date, there are no hoverboard-related accidents recorded in the Philippines yet.
The DTI-DOH health advisory was issued days after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) addressed the increasing number of hoverboard-related injuries and fire incidents in America.
The Australian government and the popular online shopping website, Amazon, reportedly recalled certain brands of hoverboards from China that were deemed unsafe to use.
International and local airline companies have prohibited passengers from bringing hoverboards to flights in compliance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations on transporting dangerous goods, which include lithium batteries.
In a televised interview on Tuesday evening, Trade Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba said that they will start a preemptive probe of the hoverboard’s safety, and will look into the possibility of banning it in certain public areas like malls.
He added that they will look into a possible total ban of hoverboard sales in the country under Article 10 of Republic Act 7394, or The Consumer Act of the Philippines, which allows the government to seize and prohibit sale of products if they are found to be injurious, unsafe or dangerous to consumers.