Santo Niño Revelers Urged to Cut Fiesta Garbage for Children’s Health

Quezon City. Fearing a repeat of the wasteful Quiapo fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition urged communities that will mark the popular Feast of the Santo Niño this week to pay attention to preventing and reducing their fiesta garbage.

Data secured by the EcoWaste Coalition from Manila’s Department of Public Services showed that over 140 tons of trash were collected in the aftermath of the Feast of the Black Nazarene at Luneta and adjacent areas, and in barangays surrounding the Quiapo Church.

“We hope that the joyful celebration in Pandacan, Tondo and many other places in honor of the Child Jesus will instill ecological concern and responsibility among the citizens and seek ways to cut trash to the minimum level,” said Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The Feast of Santo Niño is widely observed in the country as a special day when believers pray to the Child Jesus for divine intercession to obtain various favors such as the healing of grave ailments, deliverance from dangers and the fulfillment of life’s necessities.

“By keeping the festive celebration simple and eco-friendly, we avoid wasting material and financial resources and also prevent chemical pollutants from firecrackers, fireworks and discards from posing health and environmental hazards to vulnerable populations, especially the children,” he further said.

In Pandacan and Tondo, for example, seemingly endless banderitas line the crowded streets and alleys, while “happy fiesta” banners from local and national politicians running for 2010 polls compete for attention.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded with fiesta organizers and sponsors “not to litter the sky” with buntings, banners and balloons, which will end up trashing the communities and the oceans.

“Fiesta banners, buntings and balloons have become environmental nuisances as the sky is transformed into an instant dump for single-use plastic bags, packaging scraps, commercial advertisements and political propaganda materials,” Calonzo observed.

If buntings cannot be avoided, the EcoWaste Coalition urged revelers to fashion them out of alternative materials such as tailoring and garment factory scraps that can be washed, stored and reused for other celebrations.

The EcoWaste Coalition also cautioned the public against dumping or burning plastic buntings, banners and other fiesta discards, as this will cause further environmental degradation and pollution.

Throwing fiesta garbage in storm drains and waterways can cause flooding by blocking water paths, while burning them will discharge harmful pollutants such as dioxins that can cause a range of serious health problems including cancer, the group emphasized.

“Keeping our fiestas clean and toxic-free is one concrete way of preventing environment-related diseases from attacking helpless children as well as developing fetuses,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition said that poor sanitation and hygiene, exposure to harmful chemicals and changing weather patterns can cause adverse health impacts, particularly for young children.