A waste and pollution watch group today appealed to all Filipinos going to the cemeteries not to turn the hallowed resting places of their deceased relatives and friends into garbage dumps.
At a public information and cleanup drive for a litter-free “Undas” at the Manila North Cemetery, the EcoWaste Coalition urged cemetery goers to show genuine respect for the dead by keeping the cemetery grounds clean.
Joining the EcoWaste Coalition were the representatives of the Manila North Cemetery Administration, Manila's Department of Public Services , Ecology Ministry of the Parish of San Roque de Manila, Metro Manila Development Authority and Tzu Chi Foundation.
“Year in and year out, people visiting the graves of their dearly departed ones leave tons of garbage in both public and private cemeteries as if this is part of the tradition of remembering those who have passed on,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Visitors simply throw leftover meals, food wrappers, drinking cups, soiled papers, cigarette butts and other discards anywhere they please,” she noted.
“Littering disrespects the dead as well as the living. This bad habit must stop,” she said.
To drive home the message that littering in cemeteries and elsewhere is unacceptable, members of the group unfurled a white banner at the entrance of Manila North Cemetery that reads: “Kung hindi mo kayang linisin ang kapaligiran,huwag mo na lang dumihan.”
They also held placards that say: “Respect the cemetery. It’s not your trash can.”
To emphasize their anti-littering plea, the Malaya youth theater group presented a dance skit inspired by the song “Basura.”
They likewise performed the viral hit “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen" song, changing its lyrics to promote the use of reusable bags instead of plastic bags, and the use of lead safe paint in refurbishing tombs.
Afterwards, the group went to a gravesite and spruced up the place without burning trash and without using lead-containing paint.
To prevent a repeat of the annual trashing of cemeteries during “Undas,” the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged visitors to observe the following dos and don’ts:
1. Do put your “baon” in reusable containers and bring them home after use.
2. Do bring your own water to avoid buying bottled water or drinks in disposable cups and plastics.
3. Do use reusable carry bags instead of single-use plastic bags.
4. Do not bring too much food and drinks more than what you can consume.
5. Do not leave leftovers, used containers and other discards in the cemetery.
6. Do not burn discards; bring them with you for recycling or proper disposal.
“As abandoned food, water and flower containers can serve as breeding ground for chikugunya, dengue and zika carrying mosquitoes, we strongly urge visitors not to leave them in cemeteries ,” Tolentino said.
Health authorities have identified larval habitats for these disease carrying mosquitoes, including flower pots, plates under potted plants, cemetery vases, tin cans and other artificial or natural water containers.
“As cemeteries, especially on November 1, are filled with smoke from candle burning, we appeal to smokers not to add to the pollution by smoking, Please be considerate to young children, old people, pregnant women and others around you,” Tolentino further said.
The group also urged enterprising vendors to mind their garbage and to help in maintaining the cleanliness within and outside the cemetery premises.