'Trash-lacion': Manila City gov't collects 44 trucks of trash in Traslacion's wake

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — Just like in previous years, thousands of devotees of the Black Nazarene left a trail of trash from the Quirino Grandstand up to Quiapo in Manila, totalling 44 truckloads of garbage.

Manila City Department of Public Services head Lilybelle Borromeo David said the volume of trash they collected this year was almost the same as last year's Traslacion, when the MMDA collected 385 tons of mixed garbage.

"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 of the EcoWaste Coalition.

David said littering could not be helped even if they would ban vendors as groups would still distribute water and food for devotees.

"Piyesta rin kasi ng Quiapo, so hindi natin maiiwasan 'yung basura," David said.

[Translation: It's Quiapo's feast, so we really can't prevent garbage from piling up.]

Among the pieces of trash littered at the Quirino Grandstand and on the route of the Traslacion to the Quiapo Church are flattened cardboard boxes and plastic sheets used as makeshift beddings, food containers, plastic bottles and slippers.

EcoWaste also noted that devotees left used diapers and wipes, food containers and leftovers, urine-filled plastic bottles, cup noodles, instant coffee sachets, cigarette filters and lots of plastic objects.

"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," Alejandre said.

The environmental group also observed a "similarly dreadful" situation at the Quiapo district, where foam food containers were found by its volunteers in street corners, gutters and places where devotees rest and eat.

David said the volume of trash could be reduced in future Traslacions if there will be designated dining areas near its route, with trash bins provided for devotees.

But she said placing garbage cans on all the streets where the Black Nazarene's andas or carriage would pass through poses a security risk.

"Natatakot kami na pupwedeng gamitin itong mga basurahan na ito na lagyan ng explosive," David said.

[Translation: We're afraid that explosives may be placed in these trash bins.]

Street sweepers and volunteers were on standby to immediately clear up the trash left on the streets where the andas passed through.

The Nazareno returned to its home in Quiapo Church past 2 a.m. on Thursday. The Manila City government took four hours from this time to clear up the trash left around the church.

"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 said.

The Traslacion may not have been entirely trash-free, but devotees could do their share in maintaining cleanliness.

"Mahirap bang magdala ng sarili mong garbage bag at ilagay mo sa garbage bag ang basura mo?" said Senator Win Gatchalian told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

Gatchalian is seeking heftier penalties for litterbugs, mulling to lengthen their community service term to a week from one day – at least in his home city of Valenzuela.

"One of the biggest problems of our country is really the discipline of our people. And a lot of people complain about government, complain about the lack of services, but it's really doing our share and being disciplined in terms of taking care of our environment," he said.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel, Rex Remitio and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.