04 January 2018

Green Groups Campaign for a Trash-less Observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene

TRASH-LESS TRASLACION:  Environmental advocates from Buklod Tao, Green Brigade and the EcoWaste Coalition gather in front of Quiapo Church to request devotees of the Black Nazarene to observe a trash-less Traslacion ahead of the mammoth feast next Tuesday.   When we respect the environment and our fellow human beings, we also respect the Señor Nazareno, the groups reminded the devotees.

As the City of Manila braces for the massive feast of the revered Black Nazarene on January 9, pro-environment groups today staged an advocacy event outside the Quiapo Church to urge devotees to renounce littering and embrace “Zero Waste” in its place. 

The EcoWaste Coalition, Buklod Tao and the Green Brigade Committee of the Quiapo Church implored the millions of devotees who will take part in the re-enactment of the “Traslacion” to express their faith in a manner that is respectful of the environment.

According to the groups, the epic transfer (or “Traslacion”) of the image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to the Quiapo Church presents a huge garbage challenge due the sheer number of people taking part in the popular event.

“The Catholic devotion to the Black Nazarene is truly breathtaking and splendid.  Sadly, the annual ‘Traslacion’ is sullied by the unrestrained littering at the "Pahalik" and prayer vigil site in Luneta and along the processional route,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the omnipresent litter that dirtied Luneta and the streets leading to Quiapo Church in the past will be less this time around.  We are counting on the ardent devotees of the Black Nazarene to make this happen,” he said.

“With the impacts of climate worsening at a disturbing pace, it is incumbent upon us to ‘think environment’ in everything that we do, including in the way we profess and live our faith,” added Noli Abinales, Adviser, Buklod Tao, a people’s organization working for disaster resilient communities.

“We hope that our people’s devotion to the Black Nazarene will translate to a greater appreciation of the need to protect Mother Earth from littering and other acts that pollute and destroy her,” he said, stressing that “indiscriminate garbage disposal makes our communities more vulnerable to floods and diseases.” 

The groups reminded devotees that Manila, the center of the mammoth event, is already generating too much garbage estimated at 1,152 tons per day as per estimate by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).  

“Religious festivities should not exacerbate Manila’s garbage situation,” the groups emphasized.  

The groups lamented that in 2016, for example, the MMDA collected about 315 tons of garbage along the processional route.

As the feast of the Black Nazarene falls within the “Zero Waste Month” as per presidential Proclamation 760, series of 2014, the groups exhorted the Archdiocese of Manila in general and the Saint John the Baptist Parish (or Quiapo Church) in particular to instill greater environmental awareness and responsibility in the hearts and minds of the devotees.

The groups further requested the City Government of Manila to deploy environmental police to dissuade devotees from littering and ensure compliance to Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Republic Act 9003 prohibits and penalizes “the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and other public places.”

Violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000, compelled to perform community service at the local government unit where the offense was committed, or be directed to pay the fine as well as render the  community service, according to the said law.

For a trash-less Traslacion, the groups reminded the public to:

1.  Follow Luneta’s “no littering, no smoking” regulation (wearing the maroon Black Nazarene shirt does not exempt a person from observing this environmental and health policy).

2.  Refrain from smoking or vaping on January 9 as an act of penance (do not expose others to toxins from secondhand smoke, and do not throw cigarette butt on the ground).

3.  Return used beverage and food containers and food wastes, including bamboo skewers, to givers or vendors for proper disposal. 

4.  Desist from spitting and urinating in public (do not pee in a PET bottle).

5.  Bring a reusable cloth bag for “pasalubong” to avoid use of paper or plastic bags.

The groups are hopeful that Black Nazarene devotees will rise to the occasion this time around and observe a "Zero Waste Traslacion" with greater respect to fellow human beings and the environment.


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