Environmental advocates do Gangnam style for garbage-free, respecful Undas

OH, taumbayan, ‘wag,‘wag, ‘wag kang magkalat (sang to the tune of Gangnam Style).

This was the entertaining, but serious reminder from some 50 environmental advocates led by the EcoWaste Coalition as they paraded in their “Zombasura” look while dancing to the phenomenal Korean song Gangnam Style. “Zombasura,” the garbage-making Zombie, symbolizes the litterbugs who spoil cemeteries and surrounding places with rubbish.

With a big green streamer that says “Igalang ang mga patay. Igalang ang kalikasan.” (Respect the dead. Respect the environment.) as backdrop, the Zombasuras parodied through mime, song and dance the litterbugs among us who irresponsibly throw their discards as if the cemetery is a big trash can.

Joining the Zombasuras were beauty titlists led by Miss Earth Philippines 2012 Stephany Dianne Stefanowitz who proudly held banners reflecting the green “3Rs” mantra “reduce,” “reuse,” “recycle,” plus “respect”as the 4th R. Also present were Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism 2012 Candice Ramos, Miss Philippines Water 2012 Samantha Purvor, and Miss Philippines Air 2012 Glennifer Perido.
The event drew participants from the Diocese of Kalookan Ecology Ministry, Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura, Miss Earth Foundation and also from the Manila North Cemetery Administration, Manila Department of Public Services, and the Sangguniang Kabataan of an adjacent barangay.

The pre-Undas event was held amid repeated reminders from national and city authorities to observe waste prevention and reduction as Filipinos prepare to pay their respects to their departed ones on November 1 and 2.

The Manila City Council, in particular, adopted a anti-littering resolution last Thursday reminding the public that the observance of Undas “must not be made as an excuse for litterbugs to pollute the surroundings, cause harm to human health and the environment, and show disregard and disrespect to the living and the dead.”

Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition said that the faithful should express homage and appreciation for departed relatives and friends in an eco-friendly and respectful way. “Honoring our loved ones is a Filipino custom that should remain in our hearts and minds. We should manifest deep respect to those who have gone before us by keeping the cemeteries waste-free, toxics free, and trouble-free,” she said.

Newly-appointed NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) Romeo Hidalgo cautioned cemetery-goers against careless disposal of trash. “Littering, open dumping and open burning are unlawful acts. I appeal to everyone, especially to cemetery visitors and vendors, to be mindful of their discards and not turn the cemeteries into instant stinking dumpsites,” Hidalgo emphasized.

Hidalgo expressed concern that Metro Manila’s burgeoning waste generation soars during popular community celebrations and holidays.

According to the NSWMC, Metro Manila produces 8,400 to 8,600 tons of garbage daily, or about one fourth of the national daily waste generation of some 35,000 tons. The average daily waste generation in the metropolis is 0.7 kilo per person.

Miss Earth-Philippines 2012 winner Stephany Dianne Stefanowitz echoed her concerns by calling on all Pinoys to shun wasteful practices. “In what has become a throw-away society like ours, we are tremendously influenced by over-consumption, as well as the unnecessary usage of disposable items which turn into wastes. In order to help Mother Earth, let us avoid or limit the use of disposable products.”

Stefanowitz reminded the people that “everything we throw away comes back to haunt us in the future.” She said,“let us avoid using plastic bags, disposable products and wrappers. These are simple ways of preserving our finite earth for ourselves and for future generations.”

As practical guides to those who will go to the cemeteries on Undas, the EcoWaste Coalition offers the following eco-friendly tips:

1. Choose clean-burning, lead-free candles that do not yield black fumes or soot. Set alight a limited number of candles to reduce heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

2. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

3. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Discarded plastic bottles add up to the country’s garbage problem. Plastic bottles, which are petrochemical products, also require lots of oil and chemicals to manufacture.

4. Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers, and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

5. Buy less or only as much as you can consume in terms of food and beverage to avoid spoilage or wastage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

6. Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastics.

7. Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery. Do not throw cigarette butts, candy wrappers, discarded packaging, fruit peels, etc. on the ground. Remember to leave the resting place of your loved ones litter-free.

8. Put your discards into the recycling bins if available. Better still, place them in your reusable bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting.

9. Relieve yourself only in the proper place where one should. Keep the urinal or toilet bowl clean as a courtesy to the next user. Do not defecate or urinate in public places.

10. Refrain from smoking in the cemetery. Be considerate to the children, the elderly, pregnant women and others around you who may be saddled with respiratory and heart ailments.


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