“Ang Sementeryo ay Dasalan, Hindi Basurahan” (“Running Priest,” Environmentalists Run for Garbage-Free Cemeteries)

Over 100 environmental advocates for clean air and zero waste today staged a “BasuRUN” to remind the public not to leave any garbage behind when they visit the cemeteries to pay respects for their dearly departed loved ones on November 1 and 2.

Led by “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes and the EcoWaste Coalition, the “BasuRUN” was held to instill in the hearts and minds of caring Filipinos that littering despoils the hallowed burial grounds and that litterbugs should cease from treating the cemeteries as their trash bins.

After a brief prayer service at the entrance of the Manila North Cemetery, Fr. Reyes and fellow runners, armed with tongs and carrying used rice sacks, ran around the vast memorial park and collected garbage.  Each participant wore a running bib with the message “ang sementeryo ay dasalan, hindi basurahan” printed on it.

Members of the Our Lady of the Angels Seminary, Ecology Ministry of the Parish of San Roque de Manila, EcoWaste Coalition, Eco-Marino Organization of the Malabon National High School,  Manila Community Emergency Response Team, Piglas Kababaihan, Tzu Chi Foundation and the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates were among those who took part in the “BasuRUN.”

Representatives of the Manila City Government, including the Department of Public Services and the Manila North Cemetery led by Administrator Daniel Tan also graced the event.

“My heart breaks when I see people throw away trash on the ground without any feeling of guilt or shame.  Even sanctified places like the cemeteries are not spared.  It’s high time that we acknowledge that we sin against Mother Earth and other creatures who inhabit this planet every time we litter and desecrate our shared home,” said Fr. Reyes.

“As Pope Francis has painfully reminded us through his encyclical Laudato Si, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’, and we need to take action now to stop this creeping environmental destruction,” he said.

For her part, Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner at the EcoWaste Coalition, appealed to the public to be guided by the 3Rs (respect, reduce, reject) when they visit the cemeteries:

1.  Respect the dead, as well as the living, by keeping the cemetery clean and not leaving any trash behind.

2.  Reduce what you bring to the cemetery, from candles, flowers to meals, to what is only necessary and bring leftovers and discards home for proper recycling or disposal.

3.  Reject practices that contribute to waste and pollution in the cemetery such as unrestrained consumption of single-use plastic bags and other disposables, the open dumping and burning of trash, and smoking.

“Observing these 3Rs will surely lessen the environmental impact of our age-old tradition of paying homage to the dead,” Vergara said.

“The massive ‘Undas’ littering year in, year out is a gross disrespect for the dead and Mother Earth.  We need to kick this filthy littering habit and remember our deceased relatives and friends in an earth-friendly and respectful manner,” the group reiterated.