In a simple program held at the gate of the Manila North Cemetery, the advocates for eco-friendly Undas introduced a waste monster aptly named “Dumpbuhala,” representing inconsiderate litterbugs who have been turning the cemeteries into dumpsites with their wasteful habits.
Wielding oversized red boxing gloves marked with the recycling symbol, members of the pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition along with Miss Earth Philippines 2009 Sandra Seifert, Miss Earth Philippines 2009 runner-up Alexis Go and Peter Tamondong of the Manila North Cemetery Administration threw knockout punches against “Dumpbuhala,” while others held placards that say “the cemetery is not a dumpsite.”
Data obtained from the Manila City Hall show that on November 1 to 5, 2008, some 180 trucks of garbage – approximately weighing 1,145 tons – were hauled from the Manila North, Manila South and Chinese Cemeteries.
“We have come here to remind the public that our beautiful tradition of Undas can exact a major toll on public health and the environment if we continue generating avoidable trash and pollution,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).
“Given the threats of more injuries and fatalities due to changing climate patterns and more frequent calamities, we find it necessary for us to switch now to simple, climate-friendly and toxic-free lifestyle,” he added.
Cathy Untalan, Executive Director of Miss Earth Foundation, a partner group of the EcoWaste Coalition, expressed full support for a shift to sustainable lifestyle in order to clean up our surrounding and halt the further degradation of our environment.
“Let every occasion that comes our way be an opportunity to make green choices. Our beloved departed ones deserve our prayers and respect not trash. Let us honor them by not trashing the cemeteries and keeping them waste-free all the time,” she said.
Manila North Cemetery Administration Officer-In-Charge Peter Tamondong used the occasion to make a public appeal for a waste-free Undas.
“We request the full cooperation of the public in making the cemetery a clean and safe place to visit and pay homage to our departed ones. The cemetery management and staff can only do so much and we really need the people to help and be involved,” Tamondong said.
The groups distributed flyers enumerating 13 simple tips to guide the public in observing “Undas” minus the usual garbage and pollution that can turn the time-honored tradition into a dirty and unpleasant experience.
These 13 tips for a simple, climate-friendly and toxic-free commemoration of Undas are as follows.
1. Take public transportation or share a ride to the cemetery. Carpooling or taking a jeepney, bus or train can create carbon savings. Whenever applicable, walk or cycle to your destination.
2. Avoid idling your car to cut down on energy consumption and the ensuing greenhouse gas and other toxic emissions.
3. Pick clean-burning candles that do not give off black fumes or ash. Also, shun candles with metal wicks, which may contain harmful chemicals such as lead.
4. Light just enough candles to save on money and energy as well as to cut pollution. It’s the thought that counts, not the number of candles set alight and, definitely, not the dispersal of harmful by-products.
5. Offer locally-grown fresh flowers instead of imported ones that are not only costly, but also require tons of energy to get them flown to flower shops and to you.
6. Refrain from putting flowers in plastic wraps. Plastics eventually end up clogging waterways and causing floods, injuring and killing marine animals, and poisoning communities with hazardous chemicals when burned.
7. Desist from bringing or buying excessive amounts of food and beverage to the cemetery to cut on expenses and waste.
8. Bring your own water in a reusable jug. Discarded plastic bottles add up to the country’s garbage problem.
9. Pack everything you wish to bring to the cemetery in reusable bags and baskets in lieu of single-use plastic bags and containers. Instead of plastic disposables, better use banana leaves or containers that can be reused.
10. Throw all discards into the proper recycling bins and be conscious at all times that littering in the cemetery—as elsewhere—is a no-no.
11. Bring home all your discards for reusing or recycling. Give food leftovers to pet animals or turn into compost with other biodegradable waste, and reuse or recycle the non-biodegradable discards.
12. Keep the decibel level down. Refrain from creating deafening noise from loud radios, blaring music, sing-along and constant honking of horns. The occasion calls for solemnity and prayerful demeanor.
13. Offer prayers of gratitude and remembrance to your departed loved ones. Prayers are said to be the best way of thanking and honoring the people we value and love, and they cause neither garbage nor pollution.
Present at the EcoWaste Coalition’s pre-Undas event were the representatives of EARTH UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Miss Earth Foundation, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong may Taya sa Inang Kalikasan and Zero Waste Philippines.