Black Nazarene Devotees Urged: ‘Next time, please try not to litter”

“Next time, please try not to litter.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas,” made this plea following the “trashing” of Luneta and Quiapo in the city of Manila in the aftermath of the huge Black Nazarene feast yesterday.

“We again witnessed a breathtaking manifestation of Filipino people’s spirituality and we salute the devotees for their pious conviction. Unhappily, the mass veneration of the Black Nazarene has yet to transform into a more caring bond with the environment as evidenced by the pervasive littering during the feast, ” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Next time, please try not to litter for a more fitting affirmation of our faith,” he appealed to the devotees.

For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission and whose family owns a century-plus-old Santo Entierro (the Dead Christ), conveyed her hope that “our passionate devotion to the Black Nazarene would soon be matched with a shared commitment to work for a clean and safe environment for all.”

EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers lamented seeing garbage piles as countless believers flocked to Rizal Park and to Quiapo Church to pay respect to the Black Nazarene and present their petitions for good health and fortune as well as prayers for the good of the country.

In Rizal Park, the 10-hectare open field facing the Quirino Grandstand became a virtual dumpsite of garbage left by the devotees who attended an overnight vigil and a huge Mass that preceded the gruelling over 16-hour procession to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

In Quiapo, the garbage situation was worst as many residents, visitors and hawkers threw away unwanted stuff all over the area, including polystyrene food containers or what many call as “Styrofoam” that were given by good Samaritans to tired and hungry devotees.

In Carlos Palanca St., for example, Basura Patrollers were dismayed to find discards disposed of in street gutters that were already holding water due to a buildup of garbage and sludge.

In Plaza Miranda, 12 volunteers from the EcoWaste Coalition, armed with broomsticks and rakes, cleared the open space of mixed discards that created some 15 garbage mounds around the area, which were later removed by haulers.

On their way home after the cleanup, the Basura Patrollers saw the stretch of Quezon Blvd., including Quezon Bridge and the side streets, littered with mostly white garbage such as discarded plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers.

“From afar, the streets, particularly the street corners and gutters, appear to be white due to a snowstorm that pounded Quiapo,” a Basura Patroller quipped.

According to city government data, garbage collection in the Quiapo area rises to 36 tons per day during the two-day fiesta period of which 85 percent are reportedly biodegradable like food leftovers and kitchen scraps.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that next year’s feast would see the Black Nazarene devotees showing the highest concern and care for the environment that all Filipinos can extol and learn from,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.