EcoWaste Coalition Urges the Devotees to Unite for a COVID-Safe Feast of the Black Nazarene

A waste and pollution watchdog group today urged the faithful devotees of the Black Nazarene to heed the advice of Manila City and Quiapo Church authorities to help protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

As the feast of the venerated image of the Black Nazarene on January 9 nears, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the devotees to respect the cancellation of the “Traslacion” procession and “pahalik” jointly agreed by the local government and church authorities to prevent the mass gathering of people amid the continuing threat of COVID-19 transmission.

“We join Mayor Isko Moreno and Monsignor Ding Coronel in their efforts to ensure the health and safety of the devotees by adopting precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in traditional events involving large numbers of worshippers,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As the Black Nazarene lives in the heart of the believer, we request the devotees to celebrate and renew their devotion to the Black Nazarene by praying at home or by attending masses in their local parishes instead of going to Quiapo to avoid large crowds,” he added.

“We urge the faithful to respect and follow the health and safety rules set by the authorities for the good of all,” he said.

If devotees cannot resist the passionate yearning to go to Quiapo Church, the EcoWaste Coalition requested them to strictly observe essential health protocols, including properly wearing face masks and shields, practicing good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and maintaining a safe physical distance with others.

“To avoid crowds of worshippers, devotees also have the option of attending novena masses in nearby Santa Cruz and San Sebastian Churches as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and vicinity will be more congested,” said Benosa.

The EcoWaste Coalition further appealed to the devotees visiting these churches not to leave any litter behind.

“Let it not be said that devotees braved crowds and COVID-19 risks to express their undying faith but again left a trail of garbage behind,” said Benosa.

According to the Manila Public Information Officer, 68 truckloads of 330 tons of garbage were collected by the city’s Department of Public Services during the "Traslacion 2020."  In 2019, some 99 truckloads of garbage or 387 tons were collected in "Traslacion 2019."

As "Zero Waste Month" is observed every January as per Presidential Proclamation 760, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the local government, the church and the devotees themselves to prevent and reduce the generation of trash during the feast of the Black Nazarene in line with the country’s waste law. 

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

According to the yearly monitoring by the group’s Basura Patrollers, plastic bags, cups, bottles and straws, polystyrene beverage and food containers, bamboo skewers, cigarette filters and lots of food wastes are among the most littered items during the feast of the Black Nazarene.

“This year, we may also find disposable face masks and shields littered in the streets of Quiapo and adjacent places if the public will not mind their trash,” warned Benosa.

"We therefore appeal to everyone to opt for reusable or washable fabric masks to avoid creating non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste that will only exacerbate our nation's plastic pollution woes," he added.