National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
Littering again reared its ugly head leaving popular Lenten pilgrimage sites in Bulacan and Rizal provinces awash in trash.
The EcoWaste Coalition decried the perpetual littering that, for the nth time, tainted the traditional acts of devotion and penance performed by hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at the said sites.
The waste and pollution watch group monitored the trash situation at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo City on Good Friday morning.
“Just like in previous years, the Lenten pilgrimage to both religious sites left a trail of trash that is totally unbefitting of the spiritual journey that many devotees do to affirm their faith, ask forgiveness for past wrongs, and give thanks for blessings received,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
At the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Lenten campers and picnickers left heaps of garbage on the lawns and sidewalks turning the serene site into a virtual dump. “There’s literally trash everywhere,” the group observed.
Mounds of trash were also seen at the patio of the Antipolo Cathedral, home of the venerated image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. However, the nearby Sumulong Park, M. L. Quezon Street and adjacent streets were found to be generally “clean” because of the around-the-clock cleaning operations by waste and sanitation workers of the Antipolo City Government.
Carelessly discarded on the grounds, sidewalks, street corners and gutters were newspapers, corrugated boxes and other materials used by pilgrims for resting, picnicking and sleeping, snack packs, plastic bags, bottles and cups, food containers and leftovers, and cigarette stabs.
“Some of the discarded stuff is in fact reusable and recyclable. Luckily, enterprising waste pickers, especially in Antipolo City, were on hand to retrieve these valuable materials and sell them to junk shops,” Alejandre said.
From the photos posted at the group’s blog and Facebook account, it was apparent that the plea for a trash-free Holy Week aired not only by the EcoWaste Coalition but also by church and government authorities again fell on deaf ears.
“We surely are not happy with what we saw, but hope springs eternal in the human heart. We therefore reiterate our appeal to the faithful to care for Mother Earth, sustainer of all life, as they fulfill their religious vows. Faith-inspired endeavors should set a higher benchmark for environmental stewardship,” Alejandre said.
Since 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the thought-provoking pastoral letter of the Catholic bishops on ecology entitled “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged church leaders to release a new statement that will re-mobilize the entire Church and people to take further action to protect and preserve the integrity of creation, including the greening of faith activities.
Issued in 2008, the said pastoral letter was cited in the historic encyclical on the environment “Laudato Si” issued by Pope Francis in 2015.
In support of “Laudato Si,” the bishops in 2015 made a strong statement stressing: “We are not owners of the earth. We are its stewards, to keep and cherish and nurture its resources not only for ourselves but for future generations.”