By Chito Chavez
An environmental group appealed to devotees of the Black Nazarene as “stewards of God’s Creation” to be responsible for their garbage – learning from the experience of previous years and not to rely on other people to clean their trash.
“Our public appeal for a trash-less Traslacion has again fallen on deaf ears. Many people unashamedly threw their garbage anywhere turning the parade ground fronting the Quirino Grandstand into a dumping ground,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste campaigner of the environment group EcoWaste Coalition in disgust.
“Families and barkadas who flocked to the park and even set up tents for the overnight vigil left piles of rubbish behind just like in previous years. There were many urine-filled PET bottles lying on the ground,” he added.
At the Quirino Grandstand and parade ground, EcoWaste Coalition’s volunteers who helped with the cleanup found plastic bottles with urine, soiled diapers, mucky wipes, makeshift bedding, food containers and leftovers, spoiled pancit, cup noodles, instant coffee sachets, cigarette filters, and lots of things plastic from carry bags to cutlery.
At the Quiapo district, EcoWaste Coalition noted the garbage mess was similarly dreadful with litter scattered all over the place.
The group’s Basura Patrollers reported rampant disposal of foam food containers in street corners and gutters and in places where exhausted devotees ate and rested.
“Despite the painstaking efforts of street sweepers to pick up after the devotees, rubbish can be spotted everywhere! Old habits die hard,” said Alejandre.
“People seem to have no qualms about littering, a prohibited act under local and national environmental laws that is more often disregarded than enforced. Littering, especially in godly activities, is totally unacceptable. Devotion should not lead to pollution,” he emphasized.
While critical of the litterbugs, the EcoWaste Coalition thanked the hundreds of environmental personnel and volunteers, as well as the informal waste recyclers, who all helped in cleaning up the littered streets.
The group specifically cited the round-the-clock service rendered by cleaners from the Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Manila’s Department of Public Services, and volunteers from civic and religious groups.
EcoWaste Coalition also cited the student volunteers from the Philippine College of Criminology for the cleanup work, particularly in Luneta.
“We hope that our people’s devotion to the Black Nazarene will also find its expression in the way we act toward our shared environment — with care and respect,” Alejandre ended.
Manila Police District chief Supt. Vicente Danao, Jr. said this year’s Traslacion was “better” and “more peaceful compared to previous years.
There was no major untoward incident recorded but date from the Philippine National Police showed at least 846 persons were injured with 714 seeking medical help during the 21-hour procession that started at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
This year the Traslacion joined by an estimated 1.4 million devotees ended an hour early compared to 2018.
But church officials there were more than the police estimates.
“They did not include in the count those waiting in other areas that are not along the procession route such as in Quezon Boulevard. Those who walked to join the procession as well as those in secondary roads. Next time that will be included in the count,” Monsignor Hernando “Ding” Coronel, Quiapo Church rector said.
Next year, Coronel said a working group will be created and Quiapo Church will join in estimating the crowd.
“It will be researched based…there are a lot of new ways to estimate the crowd. There is aerial imagery among others,” Coronel added.
“We are very happy. We are not after quantity but quality because we hear stories of ordinary people and their relationship with the Nazarene,” said Coronel.
As of 7 a.m., the Philippine Red Cross said 1,613 patients sought treatment for various medical emergencies.
Of this number, 62 devotees suffered from major cases such as difficulty in breathing, laceration, dizziness, body weakness, and trauma caused by blunt objects.
Four were transported to the hospital due to hypertension, fractures, deformity and chest pain while 603 patients suffered from minor cases such as fainting, sprains, burns, muscle spasms, bruises, laceration, etc.
Seven hundred forty seven patients had their blood pressure monitored and 197 devotees sought psychosocial support. (With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco, Erma R. Edera and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)