3 January 2020, Manila City/Quezon City. Church and environmental health groups today urged the devotees of the Black Nazarene to turn the upcoming re-enactment of the Traslacion into a trash-free celebration of Christian faith with a specific call to “cut down on plastic waste.”
Members of the EcoWaste Coalition and Buklod Tao, together with the Formation Ministry and Green Brigade Committee of Quiapo Church, assembled in Plaza Miranda for a prayerful activity to encourage the faithful to work together in preventing trash from again defiling the age-old tradition of commemorating the transfer of the revered image of the dark-skinned Christ carrying the cross from Rizal Park to Quiapo Church.
The advocacy event for a plastic-free and trash-less Traslacion, which has the full support of Monsignor Hernando Coronel (Rector of Quiapo Church), jibed with the yearly observance of January as Zero Waste Month as per Presidential Proclamation 760. After a short program of messages and prayers, the group went around the Quiapo Church for a mini-procession to drive their message home.
“We are here to elevate the issue of waste prevention and reduction as a priority concern in the conduct of the Traslacion. Sadly, we quite often overlook our moral responsibility to be good stewards of our shared environment as the Traslacion is re-enacted,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Year after year, mounds of trash sully the Quirino Grandstand Parade Ground, site of the ‘pahalik.’ Worst, trash could be seen strewn along the six-kilometer processional route for hundreds of street cleaners to pick up, sweep, shovel and load onto dump trucks. It’s high time for the devotees to take notice of the Cross of Throw-Away Culture that is harming God’s creation, and give up the wastefulness that dishonors and disrespects Christ the Black Nazarene,” he emphasized.
Monsignor Hernando Coronel for his part said: “We urge the devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno to cut down on plastic waste and other discards for a cleaner and safer Traslacion. Let us make the protection and preservation of the environment a key part of our responsibility and mission as devotees and followers of Christ.”
Last year, the “pahalik” at Rizal Park and the procession that lasted for 21 hours generated 47 truckloads of trash equivalent to 160 tons, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Among the most discarded items were single-use plastic bags, bottles, cups and plates, as well as polystyrene food containers, cigarette butts and bamboo skewers, some of which ended up clogging the storm drains in Quiapo.
In view of the global effort to stop the flow of plastic waste into the oceans and in response to a call made by Pope Francis “to confront this (plastic) emergency,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged church and local authorities and the devotees themselves to minimize the consumption and disposal of single-use plastics during the Traslacion.
It will be recalled that Pope Francis told the faithful in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation that “we cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic.”
The group added that a waste-free Traslacion will correspond to the ongoing drive by the city government of Manila led by Mayor Isko Moreno to clean up the nation’s capital.
For a plastic-free and trash-less Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following reminders:
1. To the devotees: Avoid consuming products in single-use plastics, and dispose of trash properly.
2. To vendors: Refrain from selling snacks and drinks in plastic disposables, and be responsible for your discards.
3. To food and water givers: Desist from offering water in single-use plastic bags, bottles or cups, and refrain from giving meals in polystyrene or Styrofoam containers. Go for reusable containers.
4. To fiesta organizers: Don’t use plastic bags (i.e., “plastic labo”) as banderitas, or street garlands.
5. To all fiesta participants: Prevent and reduce all forms of fiesta waste, and never leave rubbish on the road, sidewalk, street corner, park and plant box.
“We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that this year’s Traslacion will not turn into another ‘trash-lacion,’ which will be truly regrettable and deplorable,” said Benosa.