Editorial: “Day after” mentality-A A +A
Sunday, January 13, 2013
RELIGION + tourism = garbage.
Cebuanos have long proven their devotion to the Sto. Niño, most manifest during its fiesta.
January also gathers travelers from other parts of the country and abroad who are eager to sample or revisit the whirl of cultural fare, street parties and other events laid out during the Sinulog mardi gras.
If there’s anything that still needs to be proven, it is not popular devotion to the Holy Infant or the cultural phenomenon that is the Sinulog.
It is discipline to care for the environment at the height of religious fervor and cultural and social extravaganzas.
If organizers and the person on the street disregard the aftermath of worship and celebration as a matter to be left for other people to deal with, no better proof is needed that piety and pride of place are hollow when they should be principles demanding examination, practice, even reinvention.
What’s often overlook is foresight. It’s a less demanding mentor than hindsight.
Both, though, are needed to create a “day after” mentality.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation exhibited this when, during last year’s celebration of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, the nongovernment organization (NGO) conducted waste collection, segregation and recycling at centers set up in some of the oldest and biggest cemeteries in Manila. Volunteers accepted recyclable waste from cemetery visitors. The foundation intends to use the recycled waste to help those in need.
In previous years, it could be observed how the cleaning up after crowds dispersed could be credited to the Cebu City Government’s efficient team of metro aids and the itinerant collectors of waste that can be resold for a profit.
However, in the spirit of raising the bar on individual and collective responsibility, every citizen should consider it as his or her obligation to reduce or eradicate the waste cluttering city streets, canals and gutters after major events like Christmas, New Year and Sinulog.
Personal accountability should imbue with political correctness traditions and make such worth keeping and repeating. In light of last year’s toll of destruction and loss of property and lives following flash floods and man-made disasters, our revelry—from Christmas to New Year to Sinulog—should celebrate not just the present and ephemeral but more importantly, the future.
Sustaining the ecology should be treated as connected to and inextricable from our endeavors, especially those that celebrate the here and now.
In past years, homilies of novena masses held at the Basilica Minore have called for greater commitment to preserve and manage the environment as an expression of personal piety.
Such calls need better internalization as the grand procession culminating the novena for the Sto. Niño still leaves in its wake a trail of trash and discarded mineral water bottles as long as the thousands of devotees following the processional route.
While NGOs and other volunteers can help contain and recycle trash, what’s more needed is for everyone to take up the far from gargantuan task of managing one’s waste.
This requires a mentality similar to listing the 12 things that one can do for one’s country. Devotees can bring a bag to contain the fruit skins and food packages they want to discard when there’s no trash receptacle immediately within reach. Food sellers can hang garbage bags from their stands to make it convenient for customers to drop their trash.
Some traditions require reeducation and retweaking. The practice of releasing balloons holding prayers or petitions should be stopped. After deflating, the balloons end up cluttering the earth or endangering the lives of sea animals, which cannot submerge again after ingesting these.
In previous years, post-Sinulog success was measured in terms of the speed with which government cleaners could restore the streets to serviceable condition hours after revelry.
We should raise the bar and expect it of ourselves to generate less trash requiring such a massive mobilization of personnel, garbage trucks and fuel to clear. Public funds are needed in other areas more urgently.
Finally, by greening our piety and fervor this Sinulog, we may better face the challenge of segregating and recycling in an upcoming major waste-generating event: elections.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2013.