Environmental Advocates Push for a Clean Traslacion, Not Trash-lacion (Devotees, as well as vendors, requested to take responsibility for their discards and not to depend on others to clean up after them)

“Ipagbunyi ang malinis na Traslacion.  Iwaksi ang makalat na Trash-lacion.”

These were the words written on the banner and placards held by church and community environmental advocates who assembled in front of the Quiapo Church two days before the re-enactment of the Traslacion on January 9.

Led by the EcoWaste Coalition, Buklod Tao, Green Brigade Committee of Quiapo Church, and the Ecology Ministry of San Roque de Manila Parish, the pro-environment assembly called attention to the primary responsibility of the Black Nazarene devotees in preventing garbage from again sullying the faith-based occasion.

To emphasize the need for waste prevention, three volunteers donning maroon and yellow Black Nazarene shirts carried a garbage-filled globe on their shoulders depicting what has become of Mother Earth due to the pervasive throw-away culture and apathy towards environmental issues.

“Hundreds of sweepers for sure will be assigned to pick up the trash left behind by the passionate believers, as well as enterprising vendors.  But why litter and expect other people to clean up after you?  As ‘cleanliness is next to godliness,’ we request all the devotees to be responsible for their discards, protect our common environment from garbage, and take care of each other as brothers and sisters in faith.  As stewards of the earth, please commit to a trash-less Traslacion,” exhorted Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The advocates for a trash-less Traslacion were joined by fellow environmentalist and “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes who shared his reflection on the theme chosen for Traslacion 2019: “Deboto ng Poong Hesus Nazareno: Hinirang at Pinili Upang Maging Lingkod Niya.”

“As a Church, we need to deepen and expand our devotion from within to without.  Our churches may be quiet and conductive to prayer inside, but outside is a different story.  The Benedictine dictum Ora et Labora can be a new form of devotion.  We pray inside our churches, but work hard to transform the streets and every corner of our towns and cities into green, clean, garbage-free and holy places of prayer and contemplation,” he said.

“Let the devotee of the Black Nazarene give praise to Jesus the Nazarene everywhere, inside and outside the church,” he said. “May we express our love and devotion to Jesus the Nazarene by making a conscious sacrifice to avoid and fight against the insolence and desecration of trash before, during and after the Traslacion,” he added.

Citing figures from the Manila City Government, the groups recalled that 385 tons of mixed garbage were collected from Traslacion 2018, which was 11% higher than the 341 tons hauled during the 2017 celebration.  The wastes were collected from Rizal Park (venue of the Pahalik and overnight vigil) and by the six-kilometer processional path.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers last year found mounds of rubbish at Rizal Park and by the processional route comprising of corrugated boxes, foils, newspapers and plastics used as sleeping mats; food and beverage packaging such as 3-in-1 coffee sachets, cup noodles, paper and plastic cups and polystyrene containers; food leftovers; plastic bags; and cigarette butts. 

The group expressed its hope that more devotees, as well as vendors, will heed their plea for a trash-less Traslacion and take conscious action not to abandon any litter during the occasion.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that most Black Nazarene devotees will this time heed our call for a trash-less Traslacion, which is in line with our faith and which is good for everyone and for Mother Earth,” stated Alejandre.