The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, decried the pervasive littering that again tarnished the mammoth observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene as it lauded waste workers and volunteers for sweeping up the trash.
The group had earlier campaigned for a “trash-less” Traslacion, which commemorates the transfer of the revered image of the Black Nazarene from Luneta to Quiapo.
When the crowd left the Quirino Grandstand for the seven-kilometer procession, the group’s Basura Patrollers found the sprawling grounds littered with assorted trash, including cigarette butts, styrofoam containers, snack wrappers, plastic bags and bottles and newspapers and carton boxes used as sitting or sleeping materials, in brazen disregard of Rizal Park’s “no smoking, no littering” policy.
“From Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church, waste workers and volunteers uncomplainingly removed the litter left by some devotees and vendors with broomsticks and dustpans,” observed Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. Some used tongs to get trash out of plant boxes and storm drains.
“Piles of rubbish dotted Quiapo streets, particularly polystyrene containers for free lunch given by goodhearted residents and dumped on street corners and gutters. Foam food containers and plastic bags were strewn everywhere. Also, portions of Evangelista and Raon Sts. were also littered with firecracker waste,” she said.
“When will we learn to pick up after ourselves?,” she asked?
“We should be responsible for our own waste notwithstanding the presence of waste workers and volunteers,” she emphasized.
“The trash scattered all over the Quirino Grandstand and the processional route regardless of its volume is still trash and deeply deplorable,” she stressed.
The group noted the damage to some of the portable toilets at Katigbak St. where some devotees stood to get a better view of the procession unmindful that the roofing could collapse and injure people. Despite the availability of portalets, the group found some plastic bottles filled with urine.
On the other hand, the EcoWaste Coalition commended the “army of street sweepers” deployed by the City Government of Manila and the Metro Manila Development Authority and the hundreds of volunteers from a number of parishes and schools, as well as the numerous waste pickers who worked hard to manage the massive fiesta trash.
While disappointed with the omnipresent litter that again defiled the Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed optimism that all Black Nazarene devotees would sooner or later make amends for the environment and respond to the message of Laudato Si.
Through his widely-acclaimed encyclical letter on environment, Pope Francis warned that “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” as he condemned throw-away culture and pleaded for ecological solutions.
“Pope Francis' message cannot be any clearer: we have to stop treating our Sister, Mother Earth, as a dumping site of all our unwanted, unnecessary and toxic trash. We have a moral responsibility to protect the Earth and all of its inhabitants by using our resources intelligently and respectfully, and by adopting a circular system of production to counter the prevalent throw-away culture.” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of Mother Earth Foundation and President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
The EcoWaste Coalition also blasted the "litter on the sky," referring to the countless tarpaulins of politicians hanging along the processional trail, particularly in the busy streets of Quiapo.
The Rector of the Quiapo Church Monsignor Hernando Coronel had earlier urged politicians to refrain from putting banners and posters for “self-promotion,” stating that “our focus is the Black Nazarene.”