Green Activists Rally in Quiapo to Promote Clean and Safe Fiesta

Few days before the longest procession of barefoot and maroon-clad devotees of the Black Nazarene begins, environmental advocates assembled in front of Quiapo Church to make a pitch for a garbage-free fiesta.

EcoWaste Coalition members led by Buklod Tao held an image of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (NPJN) as well as placards urging devotees to work together for an ecological celebration of our shared devotion and faith.

After singing the NPJN hymn and reciting an environment-focused “Panalangin ng Bayan” (prayers of the faithful), the green activists paraded through Carriedo, P. Gomez, R. Hidalgo, Villalobos and C. Palanca Streets inviting the public, particularly the devotees and the enterprising vendors, to cut the volume of fiesta waste.

To further drive their point, a “Basura Monster” wearing a mask and wardrobe of plastic trash took part in the event holding a placard that says “huwag mo akong gayahin” (don’t do like I did).

“We join the Church in appealing to all people of faith and goodwill to give their all-out support toward a garbage-free and injury-free fiesta,” said Noli Abinales, President of Buklod Tao, an affiliate of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Preventing the creation of litter and waste will improve sanitation and hygiene during the mammoth affair, save precious resources and avoid garbage disposal costs,” he added.

Based on data obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from Mr. Juan de la Cruz, head of the Operations Division of Manila’s Department of Public Services, the Plaza Miranda-Quiapo area generates 58 cubic meters of garbage on normal days.

On December 26, 2011 and January 1, 2012, the waste hauled from the area rose to 82.5 cubic meters per day, with 37.5 cubic meters collected from C. Palanca St., 30 cubic meters from R. Hidalgo and 15 cubic meters from Carriedo St.

“We hope that the planned vigil in Rizal Park prior to the procession will be free of litter as well,” Abinales also said.

According to Ms. Tita Laraya of the National Parks Development Committee, some 72 cubic meters of garbage were hauled last January 1, 2012 from Luneta where hundreds of thousands of visitors spent the New Year’s Eve.

To promote environmental awareness and responsibility, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with practical tips to prevent and reduce garbage during the famed Black Nazarene feast:

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

II. 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.

III. 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.

IV. 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.”

V. 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.