“We are saddened by the trashing of Luneta and Quiapo during the reenactment of ‘Translacion’ as devotees fulfilled their religious vows,” said Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
The 403rd celebration of the “Traslacion” or the transfer of the venerated image of the Black Nazarene from Recoletos Church in Intramuros to Quiapo attracted some two million devotees according to police estimates.
“The wastefulness disrespects the Black Nazarene whom believers beseech for mercy, healing and relief from hardships and ailments that are made worse by polluted surroundings,” he said.
On the spot reports from EcoWaste volunteers showed a surge in litter in Quirino grandstand in Luneta where an overnight vigil was held, along the processional route and in the communities surrounding the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.
At the post-procession cleanup organized by the EcoWaste Coalition in Plaza Miranda that lasted from 10:30 pm -12:30 am, volunteers moaned about the excessive fiesta garbage consisting mostly of plastic bags, Styrofoam, soiled paper, product packaging and food leftovers.
Among those who took part were Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation, Atty. Ron Gutierrez of Upholding Life and Nature, Anne Larracas of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Manila Councilor Numero Uno Lim and several volunteers from the EcoWaste Coalition and the Department of Public Services of the city of Manila.
Volunteers also saw mounds of garbage, mostly plastic bags and Styrofoam, in street corners, gutters and even in storm drains after the festivities have quieted down.
The EcoWaste Coalition will present the photos taken during the Quiapo fiesta to the National Solid Waste Management Commission to urge the inter-agency body led by the Environment Department to a) speed up the phase out of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials, and b) consider Quiapo as a special area for the enforcement of RA 9003 or the
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, given the national as well as global significance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which is a major news story and tourism event
“The repeat of the much-publicized littering in last year’s fiesta only reinforces the need to enhance and sustain our advocacy to green the faithful devotion to the Black Nazarene,” Calonzo said.
“As ‘katiwala’ or ‘steward’ of God’s creation, we hope that the devotees will seek to honor and glorify the Black Nazarene in a worshipful and ecological manner,” he said.
“As caretakers of Mother Earth, we need to celebrate our faith and culture without causing further stress and degradation to our fragile environment amid the unfolding climate crisis,” he further said.
While the EcoWaste Coalition finds the widespread littering in Luneta and Quiapo a let down, the group lauded the waste pickers for their valuable service for the environment.
Calonzo said the waste pickers did an amazing work by retrieving recyclables, such as carton boxes, glass beverage bottles, and plastic cups and bottles, and in preventing these resources from being dumped, burned and wasted, while generating income to support their families.
EcoWaste volunteers learned from waste pickers in Luneta that they can sell the plastic cups and bottles at ten pesos per kilo, and the carton boxes at five pesos per kilo.
To cut wasting at the Quiapo fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the devotees to bear in mind the four basic steps outlined by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin for a “zero waste celebration of life.”
These are: 1) minimize the creation of waste by using as few resources as possible at the various events, 2) avoid using plastic and disposable items, 3) separate discards into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, and 4) put them into their proper containers to facilitate recycling and make the work of the cleaners and collectors simpler.