01 January 2009

Black Nazarene Devotees Urged to Go “Green”

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog fears a repeat of the massive littering in last year’s Quiapo fiesta when tons of trash were casually left in Plaza Miranda and the adjoining streets, giving rise to a virtual dumpsite.

With the popular fiesta drawing nearer, the EcoWaste Coalition pleaded to the maroon-clothed “Hijos del Señor Nazareno” (Sons of the Lord Nazarene) devotees to show leadership in making the mammoth gathering clean and green.

“The unrestrained littering during the Quiapo fiesta is a disgrace to our age-old devoutness to Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno to whom many of us come begging for relief and freedom from all troubles, including life-threatening diseases that could have resulted from a polluted environment,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“While deeply touched by the timeless devotion of Catholic Filipinos to the Black Nazarene, we cannot help but notice how the wellbeing of our fragile environment is often ignored by many devotees as they fervently fulfill their rituals and vows,” Calonzo added.

During the fiesta in 2008, the EcoWaste Coalition recalled, the streets of Quiapo were strewn with tons of plastic bags, drinking straws, plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers, food wrappers, bamboo skewers and cigarette butts.

What made the situation even worse, the EcoWaste Coalition deplored, was the large number of single-use plastic buntings and “happy fiesta” banners crisscrossing the streets, which later ended up as trash.

“With the 2010 polls just around the corner, more politicians are likely to make their presence felt in the coming fiesta by adding their lot to the unsightly banner extravaganza,” the EcoWaste Coalition lamented.

Soon after the Quiapo fiesta last year, the EcoWaste Coalition provided the offices of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales (Archbishop of Manila) and Bishop Broderick Pabillo (Auxiliary Bishop of Manila) with photos of littered streets and mini-dumps in Quiapo to stir up church action on our
society's alarming throw-away culture, especially in faith-inspired festivities.

To minimize trash at the upcoming Quiapo fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition called to mind the four basic steps outlined by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin when he exhorted the faithful to make the 2003 World Meeting of Families in Luneta 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
simpler the work of cleaners and collectors.

“Let us honor the Black Nazarene by blending the “maroon” with “green” towards an eco-friendly Quiapo fiesta,” the EcoWaste Coalition said as it released a nine-point “Green Tips” for the devotees to consider.

A green fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, fits well with the bishops’ plea for “every citizen to eliminate wasteful consumption” as written in their recent pastoral letter “Upholding the Sanctity of Life.”


GREEN TIPS FOR THE “HIJOS DEL SEÑOR NAZARENO”

1. Refrain from smoking, or better still quit for keeps, to avoid butt litter and serious tobacco-related diseases that kill 10 Filipinos every hour. You also protect other devotees from getting sick by not exposing them to toxins from secondhand smoke.

2. If you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground. Cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment.

3. If you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it If there is no bin close by, put the spent chewing gum back into the wrapper and wait until you see a bin. Don’t let barefoot devotees step on your chewing gum waste.

4. Please don’t spit on walls, sidewalks and streets. Spitting in public presents a serious health risk, especially to children who are more prone to disease-causing germs and bacteria.

5. Please do not urinate on the street. Urinating in public is unhygienic and pose social, health and environmental problems.

6. Return used food and beverage containers to the vendors and do not litter them anywhere. The plastic bag for the thirst-quenching “palamig,” for example, can clog the storm drains and later cause flooding in Quiapo.

7. Give back to the vendors used bamboo skewers for barbecue, grilled corn-on-the-cob, fried banana, fishball and kikiam as devotees can accidentally step on thoughtlessly thrown sticks and cause foot injuries.

8. Put your discards into the designated bins. Quiapo (and the whole country for that matter) is NOT a dumpsite. Let us keep the shrine of the Black Nazarene, including the route of the procession, litter-free.

9.If you are planning to bring home something for the kids, reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable carry bag with you for the fruits, “kakanin” and other “pasalubong” that are plentiful in Quiapo.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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