Next Sunday, January 9, millions are expected to join in the re-enactment of “Traslacion,” or the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Luneta (the old Bagumbayan) to Quiapo in 1787.
In a letter sent to Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, Parish Priest and Rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, the EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for a garbage-free celebration befitting the solemn occasion.
“We appeal to you and all the devotees of the Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno to unite in ensuring that the splendid affirmation of our Christian faith will also mirror our shared mission of caring for the environment,” wrote Roy Alvarez, president of the waste and pollution watchdog.
“We hope this year’s ‘Traslacion’ will see the devotees from Metro Manila and afar fulfilling their spiritual vows in a way that will not aggravate the waste and sanitation problems in the Quiapo district,” he stated.
“Please take personal responsibility for your discards,” he told the devotees. “With your help, we can turn the tide of garbage that has been spoiling this great communion of the faithful.”
To remind the devotees to care for Mother Earth as God does, the EcoWaste Coalition in cooperation with local barangay leaders will hang banners near and around Plaza Miranda asking the public to prevent and reduce fiesta garbage.
The past celebrations of “Traslacion,” observed the EcoWaste Coalition, have been blighted by massive wastefulness that has nothing to do with our people’s longstanding piety towards the Black Nazarene.
“We have seen streets traversed by the grand procession carpeted with various trash as if national and city laws against littering do not matter during the mammoth religious event,” Alvarez lamented.
“The massive littering tarnishes our devoutness to the Black Nazarene that many of us beg for deliverance from life’s problems, including ailments that could have come from a polluted environment,” he continued.
A cleaner and safer “Traslacion,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, fits well the theme of this year’s celebration: “Yapak ng Poong Nazareno, Yakap ng Sambayanan sa Pagbabagong Buhay.”
“Our devotion to the Black Nazarene requires care and respect for His Creation,” Alvarez said.
“It also matches the bishops’ call for ecological stewardship and conversion,” he added.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued in 2008 a pastoral letter on ecology entitled “Uphold the Sanctity of Life”, which, among others, urged the faithful “to protect creation” and “to eliminate wasteful consumption.”
For improved waste and sanitation management, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the devotees to observe the following reminders:
1. Refrain from smoking, or better still quit for keeps, to avoid butt litter and serious tobacco-related diseases that kill 10 Filipinos every hour. You also protect other people from getting sick by not exposing them to toxins from secondhand smoke.
2. If you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground. Cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment.
3. If you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it. If there is no bin close by, put the spent chewing gum back into the wrapper and wait until you see a bin. Don’t let barefoot devotees step on your chewing gum waste.
4. Please don’t spit on walls, sidewalks and streets. Spitting in public presents a serious health risk, especially to children who are more prone to disease-causing germs and bacteria.
5. Please do not urinate on the street. Urinating in public is unhygienic and poses social, health and environmental problems.
6. Return used food and beverage containers to the vendors and do not litter them anywhere. The plastic bag for the thirst-quenching “palamig,” for example, can clog the storm drains and later cause flooding in Quiapo.
7. Give back to the vendors used bamboo skewers for barbecue, grilled corn-on-the-cob, fried banana, fishball and kikiam as devotees can accidentally step on thoughtlessly thrown sticks and cause foot injuries.
8. Put your discards into the designated bins. Quiapo (and the whole country for that matter) is NOT a dumpsite. Let us keep the shrine of the Black Nazarene, including the route of the procession, litter-free.
9. If you are planning to bring home something for the kids, reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable carry bag with you for the fruits, “kakanin” and other “pasalubong” that are plentiful in Quiapo.