EcoWaste Coalition Exhorts Black Nazarene Devotees to Aim for a Trash-Free Feast

A waste and pollution watchdog group has called upon the devotees of the Black Nazarene to keep the upcoming feast on January 9 COVID-safe and trash-free, too.

With the National Capital Region under stricter Alert Level 3 due to spike in COVID-19 infections, the EcoWaste Coalition joined the local church and government authorities in reminding devotees to follow precautionary health protocols such as properly wearing a face mask, frequently washing or sanitizing hands, and maintaining safe physical distancing.

As many of the ardent devotees of the revered Black Nazarene are still expected to visit the Quiapo Church despite the cancellation of the traditional “Traslacion” and “pahalik,” the group reminded the faithful to keep the surroundings free of garbage, noting that January is also observed as “Zero Waste Month” as per Proclamation 760.

“We call upon the followers of the Black Nazarene to keep the faith-inspired celebration COVID-safe and trash-free regardless of where they will mark the feast day -- in their own homes, in local parishes or in Quiapo,” appealed Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Devotees who opt to fulfill their “panata” in Quiapo where the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is located will have a big responsibility of keeping the feast trash-free on their shoulders, the group said.

The watchdog group recalled that the celebration in 2021 held amid the COVID-19 outbreak was remarkably cleaner compared to the trashy festivities in previous years, which prompted the group to introduce the term “trashlacion” to draw attention to the enormous volume of  trash during the “Traslacion.”

“We want last year’s ‘waste-less’ celebration held amid the COVID-19 pandemic repeated for the second time,” said Benosa, who noted the lesser amount of trash left in the environs of Quiapo Church and designated satellite churches.

To prevent and reduce the generation and disposal of trash, particularly in Quiapo, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the fiesta organizers, devotees, food and water givers, and vendors to consider the following eco-tips: 
  1. For the fiesta organizers: Constantly remind devotees by announcing through the regular and novena masses and social media posts to cut back on garbage and not to litter anywhere at all times. Shun disposable plastic banderitas and minimize the use of plastic tarpaulins.
  2. For the devotees: Avoid consuming items in single-use plastics, and always put discards into their right bins.  Refrain from smoking and from littering cigarette butts.
  3. For food and water givers: Offer food or water in reusable containers, which can be washed and reused.  Refrain from giving food or water in single-use plastic bags, bottles or cups, or in polystyrene or Styrofoam containers. 
  4. For vendors: Refrain from selling snacks and drinks in plastic disposables, and properly manage discards. 
  5. For all fiesta participants: Avoid all types of fiesta waste, and never abandon trash on the streets, street gutters, sidewalks, parks and plant boxes.
The EcoWaste Coalition specifically requested political aspirants and their supporters to refrain from putting up "happy fiesta" tarpaulin banners and posters in Quiapo, stressing that "tarpaulitics" will only aggravate the fiesta garbage with the use and subsequent disposal of tarpaulins laden with hazardous chemicals like cadmium and lead.

Past celebrations of the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene have generated tons upon tons of garbage, including leftovers, paper and plastic food and water containers, plastic bags, cutlery and cups, bamboo skewers, and cigarette filters.

Manila’s Department of Public Services, for example, reported hauling some 99 truckloads or 387 tons and 68 truckloads or 330 tons of garbage during the massive celebrations in 2019 and 2020, respectively.