As the church, local government and police authorities brace for the massive feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, a waste and pollution watch group today challenged the devotees to make this year’s celebration the cleanest and safest ever.
The EcoWaste Coalition, together with Buklod Tao, dared the staunch followers of Our Father Jesus Nazarene to express their devotion in a manner that will also reflect their concern for the well-being of Mother Earth, the giver and sustainer of life.
“We call upon the devoted sons and daughters of the Nazarene to conduct the re-enactment of the Traslacion from Luneta to Quiapo next Monday in a trash-less way,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We request the tens of thousands of devotees who will take part in the grand procession not to leave a trail of garbage as they profess their faith or fulfill their sacred vows,” she reiterated.
Tolentino recalled that the commemoration of the Traslacion for the past so many years has been tarnished by the tons of garbage left in Quirino Grandstand and parade ground in Luneta, the seven-kilometer processional route, and Plaza Miranda and adjoining streets in Quiapo.
For example, the Metro Manila Development Authority hauled some 30 truckloads of trash during the Black Nazarene feast in 2016 (approximately 315 tons) and 20 truckloads in 2015 (approximately 210 tons).
To hammer home their call for a trash-less Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition and Buklod Tao members paraded around Quiapo a replica of the Black Nazarene in a “kariton” or pushcart.
“The pushcart is typically used by informal waste recyclers to collect recyclables from our neighborhoods. It is a tangible symbol of our effort as humans to deal with our discards in an environmentally-sound way via recycling. By putting the Black Nazarene in a pushcart, we make a statement about the ‘godliness’ in recycling and the need for the general public, particularly the devotees, to not to litter, recycle and reduce what we throw away,” Tolentino explained.
After a short program in front of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, the groups walked around Quiapo with the pushcart to prayerfully engage the public to support a trash-less Traslacion.
The groups specifically enjoined vendors to do their share in reducing the litter along the processional trail by minding their rubbish.
The groups further urged barangay and purok leaders, particularly in the Quiapo district, to take extra measures to prevent and reduce littering during the feast day.
“As frontline implementors of Republic Act 9003, which, among other things, prohibits littering and dumping, we urge Quiapo’s local leaders not to allow their communities to drown in garbage and to make January 9 a special occasion to enforce the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” Tolentino said.
"A trash-less Traslacion will be in line with the commemoration of the national Zero Waste Month this January," she emphasized.
"A cleaner Traslacion will also be in step with the theme for this year's celebration ("Pag-ibig ang Buklod ng Ganap na Pagkakaisa") as caring for the environment is integral to forming loving relationships and communities," she added.