Environmentalists Stage “Silent Action” in Quiapo to Promote Clean and Safe Black Nazarene Feast

A waste and pollution watchdog has stepped up its drive for a clean and safe celebration as the 404th feast of the Black Nazarene this weekend gets nearer.

EcoWaste Coalition’s volunteers in maroon and yellow shirts today staged a “silent action” in front of the historic Quiapo Church where the Black Nazarene is enshrined to request the devotees to commit to a garbage-free fiesta.

Led by actor Roy Alvarez, president of the environmental watchdog, who was holding a miniature image of the Black Nazarene, they quietly campaigned for a clean and safe fiesta as stated in their placards.

“We have gathered here today in silence in the hope that our plea for an ecological feast of the Black Nazarene will be heard and heeded by all caring citizens,” said Alvarez.

“We strongly believe that the faithful, led by the Hijos del Nazareno, can reverse the deluge of garbage that has been messing up the mammoth celebration,” he continued.

“Together, let us honor the Black Nazarene to whom we pray for cleansing and healing by keeping Quiapo and the entire country safe from pernicious trash,” he added.

Among the groups who took part in the “silent action” were the Alaga Lahat, Ang Nars, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives and the Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan.

Citing information it obtained from Manila’s Department of Public Services (DPS)-Operation Division, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented that garbage generation in Quiapo area rises from 18 tons to 36 tons per day or 72 tons during the two-day fiesta period on January 8 and 9 of which 80-85% are biodegradable discards.

“The waste data from DPS tell us that the biggest chunk of fiesta garbage is comprised of organic discards that can be fed to animals or composted to produce soil conditioner or fertilizer,” noted Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

‘By segregating the biodegradable from the non-biodegradable discards and turning them into animal food or compost, we avoid creating filthy mounds of mixed garbage in Quiapo and elsewhere,” she pointed out.

Biodegradable discards include kitchen scraps, food leftovers, soiled paper, plant and other organic matters.

To address the anticipated fiesta garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition has appealed to various sectors to get involved in practical waste minimization efforts.

For the Parish: 1) plug waste prevention and reduction reminders before and after every Mass; and 2) involve all the 30 parish-based organizations for a parish-wide campaign to green the Black Nazarene feast.

For food and beverage givers: 1) pack meals in biodegradable packaging such as banana leaves and paper or serve meals, as well as drinks, in reusable containers; and 2) collect all food leftovers for “kaning baboy.”

For vendors: 1) refrain from using single-use disposable containers; 2) bring your own “sako” for your discards; and 3) make a final sweep of your vending area before you leave.

For the devotees: 1) refrain from smoking to avoid butt litter; 2) if you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground; 3) if you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it; 4) do not spit on walls and other spots; 5) do not urinate on the streets, 6) return used food and beverage containers, including bamboo skewers, to the vendors; 7) put your discards into the designated bins; and 9) bring a reusable bag if you are planning to buy some “pasalubong” from Quiapo.

For the barangay and city authorities: 1) provide and maintain more portable toilets for the convenience of the devotees; 2) place trash sacks in littering hotspots; and 3) enforce national and city regulations against littering.