EXCEPT for that incident in Manolo Fortich, which allegedly police checkpoints barred a group of protesting group of farmers and Indigenous Peoples, and government social workers allegedly tried to detain participating children despite the presence of their parents, the observation of Holy Week (on a “Good” Friday) was almost harmonious.
Almost - you can’t call it “peaceful” when there’s a brewing friction between government agents and progressive groups from Bukidnon who are trying to go to Cagayan de Oro and call out the government to end martial law, extra-judicial killings, and systematic poverty and labor issues.
As a consolation though, there were no reported incidents involving injuries or people seeking attention in pilgrimage sites.
But even if there were no incidents of protests and injuries, you can’t call a long holiday peaceful and brimming with harmony when revelers and tourists leave behind bulk of garbage, messing around the surroundings.
We never learned even now. It is not only in Holy Week, but in almost every events that people gather in big crowds, like festivals; after such events, people leave the grounds with all these trash, waiting for others to pick it up or clean up for them. What could be worse is that some organizers fail to give ample number of garbage disposal bins that can be visible by the public and easily accessible by them.
And to think, Macajalar and Gingoog Bays are showing signs of healthy ecosystem when sperm whales can now be frequently sighted and a potential tourism boost. This can show good potentials, but it can be also concerning.
Having these friendly giants roam close within Northern Mindanao region, also mean that we should be more careful in keeping our environment sustainable and clean. Making it a tourism destination may have positive impact in terms of revenues and jobs, but it can also invite environmental damage, especially so when operators and tourists are ignorant, and insensitive to environmental protection. There are times laws and policies are relaxed to spoil the tourists’ whims, and that’s dangerous.
While most contemplate on the spiritual aspects during the Holy Week, it’s also the best way to reflect how can we help the environment by not only keeping our garbage away from being littered everywhere, but also think of contributing to promote sustainable means to avoid it getting down the ocean and be eaten by marine animals such as the whales.
Let’s talk about these issues all over again, repetitive as it may sound, just like how we continue to be irresponsible in throwing garbage many times over. There were groups and organizations, and even individuals who have become conscious about this and started to roll out their own initiatives to reduce plastic use and garbage, but it is still not enough that many still indifferent about this - one indicator is the garbage present after big public events.
Maybe, the next time organizers of events would remind the participating public to be mindful on their garbage, and help clean the surroundings, before calling it a day?