Trash-lacion: Nazarene devotees leave pile of trash in Manila’s streets

Cleaners sweep the trash left by the Black Nazarene’s devotees at the Rizal Park. Photo: Jhun Dantes/ABS-CBN News
Cleaners sweep the trash left by the Black Nazarene’s devotees at the Rizal Park. Photo: Jhun Dantes/ABS-CBN News

Look at what you’ve done, people.

A Filipino environmental group yesterday expressed disappointment at the amount of trash left by the devotees of the Black Nazarene during its procession called the Traslación. 

Photos shared by the local media yesterday showed piles of garbage in various spots along the procession’s route, prompting journalists to dub the event “Trash-lacion.”

It’s admittedly a cool pun but the environmental group is not laughing at what the devotees have done. In a statement posted on its Facebook account, the Ecowaste Coalition said that they spotted yucky stuff such as urine-filled plastic bottles, baby diapers, wipes, and even spoiled food.

Before the Traslación started, the group appealed to devotees to clean up after themselves. Judging by the photos of the garbage, their call fell on deaf ears.

One of Ecowaste’s campaigners, Daniel Alejandre, said in the statement: “People seem to have no qualms about littering, a prohibited act under our 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.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) tried to enforce a no-littering policy during the procession, but GMA News reported that the police found it hard to enforce due to the sheer number of attendees.

CNN Philippines reported that the city government of Manila and the Manila Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) had to bring in a truck with “rolling brooms” to pick up the mountain of garbage.

It might be hard to believe but PNP-National Capital Region Police Office Chief Director Guillermo Eleazar said the trash left behind by devotees this year is less compared to the amount in 2018.

He told the media: “Based on our assessment if you compare this to last year it’s cleaner now.”

Eleazar said this was due to the authorities’ policy of forbidding vendors from selling near several areas along the path of the Traslación.

Government departments also reminded the devotees yesterday not to litter in Manila’s open spaces. The Pasig Rehabilitation Commission, which is responsible for cleaning up the Pasig River, slammed those who throw their trash into the body of water.

In a statement that it posted on its Facebook account, its executive director Jose Antonio Goitia addressed the devotees: “While we are amazed with (sic) your devotion, we are also appalled by the piles of garbage you leave behind after every procession. Worse, the Pasig River is not spared by the irresponsibility of many devotees. You are probably well-aware that improper disposal of garbage is illegal so allow us to enlighten you that such [an] act is likewise inconsistent with your devotion.”

GMA News reported that the procession ended today a few minutes after 2am, 21 hours after it started yesterday. It was slightly faster than the procession last year, which took 22 hours.

According to the PNP’s estimates, more than a million people welcomed the Black Nazarene when it entered the Quiapo Church.

The procession started at the Quirino Grandstand and covered a six-kilometer-long route.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said that 1,613 people sought medical assistance as of 7am today, CNN Philippines reported. They said 62 of them suffered “major cases” such as difficulty in breathing and injury from blunt instruments. 

The Traslación is one of the most important events attended by Filipino Catholics. It serves as a celebration of the arrival of the Black Nazarene, a statue of Jesus Christ, at the church of Quiapo on Jan. 9, 1787 after it was kept in different Manila churches.

During Traslación, a replica of the Nazarene is placed on top of a carriage called a carroza that is pulled across a route by barefoot devotees dressed in maroon shirts, the same shade of the icon’s robes.

Other devotees who believe the statue grants miracles line along the path of the route, with many scrambling through the crowd to touch the Nazarene. 

The chaos that ensues often results in injury and even death — in 2015, two devotees died during the event.

This year, however, the PNP reported that there were no casualties, said the Philippine Star. 

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