15 March 2008

EcoGroups Calls Green Celebration of Holy Week

As Christian Filipinos begin a week of remembrance, penance and charity to mark the agony, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the EcoWaste Coalition makes a pitch for a clean and green holy week.

The group releases 10 helpful hints for an eco-friendly Holy Week following the plea of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, as contained in the Pastoral Letter for Alay Kapwa Sunday, where the Manila prelate exhorted the Filipinos "to live up to our Christian responsibility to protect and preserve mother earth and commit to living a simple life."

Bishop Deogracias S. IƱiguez, Jr., Chairperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Committee, welcomed the EcoWaste Coalition's latest eco-advisory, stressing that "protecting the environment from trash and other polluting and destructive practices should form part of the renewal that we seek as we recall the blessings of redemption through the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ."

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the neighborhood "pabasa" (chant reading of the Passion of Christ), the "senakulo" (Passion play) in some communities, the pilgrimage to Antipolo City, the "visita iglesia" (church visitations) on Maundy Thursday, the Stations of the Cross, the solemn Santo Entierro (holy burial) on Good Friday, and the jubilant Easter "Salubong" can potentially yield garbage if the faithful are not mindful of their environmental responsibility.

To make this very special week holy, clean and green, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list of tips that caring and sharing Christians should find useful:

1. Make it a point to ensure that nothing is wasted nor littered as you fulfill your sacred vows.

2. To avoid having to purchase water in plastic bottles, bring your own reusable water jug as you carry on with your spiritual duties in the scorching summer heat.

3. Cut your car use to save on energy and reduce climate pollution; walk, cycle or take the public transportation for your Holy Week trips; for example, commute from one church to another for the Visita Iglesia pilgrimage.

4. Put aside plans for non-essential long distance travel and consider giving the money saved to the Alay Kapwa Lenten evangelization-action program (www.nassa.org.ph), the "Pondo ng Pinoy" (www.pondongpinoy.com.ph) or to any of your favorite charities.

5. If you intend to go nature tripping during the long weekend, please stick to the eco-creed "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time"; reduce plastic bag pollution by bringing a few handy reusable bags in case you need to pick up some stuff from the grocery store or buy souvenirs.

6. Choose reusable over disposable cups, plates and cutlery for meals and drinks served to "pabasa" readers; consider serving vegetarian meals with plain water, throat-soothing "salabat" (ginger tea) or buko juice, a natural isotonic beverage.

7. Keep the "kubol" (makeshift structure) for the "pabasa" simple, ensuring that materials can be easily disassembled for reuse or for donation to the homeless; keep the children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups, especially pregnant women and people with asthma, safe from second-hand smoke by making the "kubol" and the immediate vicinity a "no smoking" zone.

8. Refrain from overdoing the "carrozas" (floats) for the Santo Entierro, enhancing them only with biodegradable stuff like sampaguita and other natural flowers and plants.

9. Keep the "Salubong" rites eco-friendly by not blasting firecrackers and throwing confetti to mark the joyful encounter between the risen Christ and Mater Dolorosa (sorrowing mother); petals and leaves can be used in place of confetti.

10. For Easter egg hunt, color the eggs using only natural ingredients or dyes. Desist from giving children junk food and promote a healthy and balanced diet.

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