EcoWaste Coalition Regrets Pervasive Littering as Pilgrims Perform Penitential Acts in Popular Lenten Sites (“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid the changing climate”)

An environmental advocacy group espousing a trash-free observance of the Holy Week has lamented the ubiquitous litter that sullied two popular Lenten pilgrimage sites outside Metro Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its disappointment over the unbridled acts of littering that befouled the surroundings of the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Antipolo City, Rizal Province and the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan Province.

In the early morning of Good Friday, the group’s Basura Patrollers went to these pilgrim sites to check on the garbage situation following the penitential pilgrimage that attracted millions of devotees from the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.

Photos of the littered sites can be viewed at the EcoWaste Coalition’s blog.  

“We regret that the lack of discipline in the proper management of discards has again marred the penitential pilgrimage that many Filipinos do to atone for past mistakes and shortcomings,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“The roads leading to the holy sites, particularly the long expanse of Ortigas Avenue Extension leading to the shrine of the venerated image of the Virgin of Antipolo, were littered with candy, snack and fast food wrappers, plastic bags and bottles, and cigarette filters,” she said.

“The situation could have been worse if not for the hundreds of street sweepers deployed by the local government units of Pasig, Cainta, Taytay and Antipolo who worked around the clock to clean the streets of trash,” she emphasized.

“The informal waste pickers also contributed to reducing the volume of trash to be hauled by removing recyclable materials to be sold to junk shops,” she added.

At the Antipolo Cathedral, many pilgrims who spent the night at the patio after the tedious walk simply left the soiled kraft papers, newspapers, posters and other improvised sleeping pads lying on the ground.  

“The oft-repeated reminder from the church aired over the public address system for pilgrims to bring home or properly disposed of such sleeping materials was ignored,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

In addition to the ‘usual’ trash, the group also reported finding used disposable diapers and Red Horse beer in the patio.

The group likewise saw some pilgrims smoking or vaping while resting at the patio.

At the vicinity of Lourdes Grotto, the group found piles of trash consisting mostly of polystyrene food containers, plastic bottles, cups and bags and chip wrappers.

“We hope that pilgrims will mind their trash next time, and embrace the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart, especially when they carry out penitential acts,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“The activities in remembrance of the Passion of Christ, which is commemorated during the Holy Week, should not generate ‘holitrash.”  Instead of adding to our garbage and climate woes, the solemn week should inspire us to clean our hearts and strengthen our respect for Mother Earth and other beings,’ the group added.

“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid changing climate,” the group said.