EcoWaste Coalition: “Kalakip ng Debosyon ang Malinis na Traslacion”

6 January 2024, Manila City/Quezon City. As the church, local government, police and health authorities gear up for the massive feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9 after a hiatus of three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted devotees to express their faith in a way that is respectful of Mother Earth.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition remind Black Nazarene devotees to take care of the environment and show respect to Lord Jesus Christ by keeping the upcoming Traslacion litter-free.

In an event held today in front of the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Jesus Nazareno in coordination with the Green Brigade Team of the parish, the group unfurled a huge banner that says “Kalakip ng Debosyon ang Malinis na Traslacion” to remind the faithful of the need to keep the time-honored religious event litter-free.

As the Traslacion is commemorated in January during the “Zero Waste Month” as per Presidential Proclamation 760, series of 2014, the EcoWaste Coalition urged all sectors to ensure the cleanliness of the faith-inspired feast.

“We appeal to all devotees as people of strong faith to join hands in solidarity to make this year’s Traslacion as litter-free as possible,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “Not leaving any garbage behind along the processional route from Rizal Park to Quiapo Church will mirror our understanding of our role and responsibility as stewards of God’s creation.”

The group’s plea for a clean observance of Traslacion 2024, Tolentino said, echoes the message made by Pope Francis early in his papacy in 2013 where he invited all Catholics “to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.”

After a short program that was attended by representatives from parish-based groups, adjacent barangays and by members of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong in Tondo, Manila, participants paraded quietly through the streets of Quiapo to encourage the public to support a clean observance of Traslacion.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, past commemorations of the Traslacion were tarnished by all-out littering, an environmental offense prohibited under Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Among the most littered items are disposable food and beverage containers and wrappers made of paper and plastic, food leftovers, bamboo skewers, and cigarette butts based on the group’s trash monitoring activities.

At one point, then Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle challenged devotees in 2012 to clean up after themselves. “Patunayan natin na hindi na natin hihilahin si Poong Nazareno at ang kalikasan pababa dahil sa ating kawalan ng pagmamalasakit. Hindi mo basurahan ang buong siyudad ng Maynila. Magpakumbaba, ‘wag tayong maging mayabang,” he said in his homily. Tagle, now a Cardinal based in Vatican City, is Pro-Prefect for the Section of First Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following eco-tips to prevent and reduce the generation and disposal of garbage during the Traslacion 2024:

■ For the fiesta organizers: Remind devotees 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.

■ For the devotees: Avoid consuming items in single-use plastics, abide by Luneta’s “no littering, no smoking” regulation, and always put discards into the proper bins. Refrain from smoking and dumping cigarette butts.

■ 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.

■ For vendors: Refrain from selling snacks and drinks in plastic disposables, and properly manage discards.

■ For barangay leaders: Remind residents and visitors through the barangay’s public address system to celebrate responsibly and not to litter.

■ For all fiesta participants: Avoid all types of fiesta waste, and never abandon trash on the streets, street gutters, sidewalks, parks and plant boxes.

On January 9, the EcoWaste Coalition will deploy volunteers to assist with the clean up of Rizal Park, site of the traditional Pahalik, vigil and Fiesta Mayor preceding the re-enactment of the Traslacion.

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