Environmental advocates gathered near Quiapo Church to intensify their call for a clean and safe celebration of the annual feast of the Black Nazarene on Wednesday.
The EcoWaste Coalition adopted the theme for this year’s feast and called on the devotees to espouse ecological devotion through its slogan: “Debotong Mapagkalinga: Nananalig, Sumasaksi” (Caring Devotee: Believing, Bearing Witness).
In a serene action today, EcoWaste Coalition and the Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa (SPTT) held miniature images of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (NPJN) and lit green candles urging devotees to celebrate the religious festival with the good of the people and the environment in mind.
After singing the NPJN hymn, the group recited an environment-themed “Panalangin ng Bayan” (prayers of the faithful) touching on some burning problems of ecology facing the Filipino nation.
The group specifically prayed for the victims of last month’s typhoons hoping that “ang mga komunidad at pamilya na nagdurusa sa nangyaring paghagupit ng kalikasan, laluna ng bagyong Pablo sa Mindanao, ay makabangon sa kanilang pagkakalugmok at makapagsimulang muli.”
The group also rendered prayers for the safety of all devotees who will participate in the upcoming feast so that “ang nalalapit na pista ay maging ligtas sa anumang kalabisan o sakuna na maaaring makapinsala sa tao at kapaligiran,” while consequently wishing that “ang bawat deboto ay maging huwaran ng mabuting pagkalinga sa sarili, pamilya, pamayanan at kalikasan.”
The green activists paraded through C. Palanca Sr., P. Gomez, R. Hidalgo and Villalobos Streets and Quezon Boulevard requesting the public, especially the faithful devotees and the enterprising vendors, to observe an ecological fiesta.
To further reiterate their point, a “Basura Monster” clothed in a wardrobe of plastic trash joined the parade brandishing a mock shield made of garbage with a text that reads, “Huwag mo akong gayahin” (Do not imitate me).
In his homily during the Feast of Black Nazarene last year, then Archbishop and now Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila challenged the faithful to show their utmost reverence for the Black Nazarene by respecting the environment.
“Patunayan natin na hindi na natin hihilain si Poong Nazareno at ang kalikasan pababa dahil sa ating kawalang malasakit. Kakain kayo ng candy, pagkasubo ng candy, huwag ka namang napakayabang na parang ang buong Luneta ay iyong basurahan, na ang papel tapon mo lang, ang yabang mo kapatid. Hindi mo basurahan ang buong siyudad ng Manila. Magpakumbaba, huwag tayong mayabang,” Cardinal Tagle declared in his homily last year.
Echoing the Cardinal’s plea, the environmentalists reminded the public to “express our reverence and devotion for the Black Nazarene sans shameless littering.”
“The religious feast is not an excuse for litterbugs to have a field day defiling the streets of Manila without fear of being admonished and punished,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As followers of the Black Nazarene, we expect the devotees to fulfil their sacred vows in an environmentally responsible manner,” she added.
“Littering affects the quality of the environment and can even threaten the health and safety of the devotees,” she said.
For instance, improperly discarded bamboo skewers have been blamed for foot injuries among devotees many of whom walked barefoot during the procession,” Vergara said.
After a historic 22-hour procession last year, tons of garbage were left by a record eight million devotees, particularly in Luneta and Quiapo.
To address the expected bulk of fiesta garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to various sectors to commit themselves in an eco-friendly and practical waste minimization efforts.
A. For the devotees: 1) refrain from smoking to avoid cigarette 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.
B. For food and beverage providers: 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.”
C. 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.