EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Garbage-Free Fiesta as Church Pledges to Remind Devotees Not to Litter

(Photo by Benjie Castro)

A waste and pollution watchdog has made a ‘humble plea for environmental responsibility and care” as millions of devotees of the Black Nazarene gear up for the mammoth procession next Monday, January 9.

In an e-mail sent to Msgr. Jose Clemente F. Ignacio of Quiapo Church on December 31, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the Parish Priest for help in making the upcoming “Traslacion” garbage-free.

The annual “Traslacion” commemorates the transfer in 1767 of the highly adored image of the “Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno” (Our Father Jesus Nazarene) from Intramuros to Quiapo.

Past celebrations of the “Traslacion,” observed the group, were tarnished by rampant littering from Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

In his response dated January 1, Msgr. Ignacio assured the group “that Quiapo Church is responding to the need to love the environment” and that devotees shall be reminded not to litter.

“Through you, we earnestly request devotees of the Black Nazarene to exercise utmost environmental responsibility in the performance of their sacred vows and commitments, particularly in the manner discards are managed and disposed of,” wrote Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We believe that our nation’s deeply-rooted devotion to Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno should reflect a collective respect for our fragile environment,” Alvarez said.

“We do not glorify the Black Nazarene by leaving garbage along the processional route,” he added.

According to the group, littering is an environmental offense that is often ignored.

“Littering does not only clog storm drains and cause flashfloods, but also defaces the image of Christ that is present in all things that make up the ecosystems,” he emphasized.

In the wake of the many disasters that befell our country in 2011, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged devotees and other stakeholders to be more sensitive and proactive in reducing the environmental impacts of the “Traslacion” and other faith events.

“Please be assured that Quiapo Church is responding to the need to love the environment,” said Msgr. Ignacio in his reply to the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our Ministry for Environmental Concerns has been active not just during fiestas but the whole year round. We admit we have not been a 100% near the ideal considering the volume of devotees who come to our fiestas. But we have improved through the years. Thanks to your constant reminders and letters,” he said.

“We shall remind the devotees not to throw their garbage anywhere,” he said.

According to Msgr. Ignacio, the youth and student volunteers shall be cleaning the trash in a segregated way after the Masses.

The Metro Manila Development Authority and Manila’s Department of Public Sanitation will also be helping and following the procession route, the priest said.

He likewise invited the EcoWaste Coalition to promote their environmental advocacy by volunteering members of the group in the Ministry’s responses during the fiesta.

“We need more volunteers to remind, clean and work for love of the environment,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has provided Msgr. Ignacio with concrete suggestions on how to trim down, if not eliminate, waste generation and disposal during the ‘Traslacion.”

According to the group, the cooperation of the Black Nazarene devotees, the Church and other stakeholders such as the barangay officials, media organizations, civic groups, restaurant and shop owners, and the multitude of vendors is key to achieving an eco-friendly fiesta, which is for the common good.