Four cemeteries in Metro Manila and one in Bicol were commended by an environmentalist group for being litter-free during the observance of All Saints’ Day.
The Ecowaste Coalition on Saturday said the St. John Memorial Park-San Juan City Cemetery; the Aglipay Cemetery in Marikina City; the Garden of Life-Mandaluyong City Cemetery; Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque City; and the Bicol Memorial Park in Legazpi City were observed to be litter-free “or darn near thanks to the cooperation of disciplined visitors.”
The group praised cemetery visitors for not leaving trash on gravesites even as it called out the “trashers of the tombs” —or those who leave their garbage behind—for disrespecting the dead.
“We laud caring Filipinos for leaving flowers and prayers—not trash—at the graves of their dearly departed relatives and friends. This should be the rule rather than the exception as millions gather every year in cemeteries to remember and pray for them,” said Ecowaste Zero Waste campaigner Jove Benosa.
“We hope the trashers of the tombs will make amends by not leaving their rubbish behind next time around. By keeping the graveyards clean, we show our utmost respect to the dead and the living and Mother Earth, too,” he added.
The group reported that “minimal to intense” littering was observed in 17 cemeteries in various cities in Metro Manila.
Littering was most widespread at the Bagbag Public Cemetery in Quezon City with garbage strewn all over the place.
Ecowaste said littering in this cemetery has been characterized as “intense” with visitors literally walking over or sitting next to garbage.
With the ban on vendors in place, the group observed visible reduction of food packaging waste inside the Manila North and South Cemeteries.
The situation in private cemeteries was similarly wasteful with bins overflowing with discards, especially single-use paper and plastic packaging from food concessionaires, a common sight at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque and Quezon Cities.
While alcoholic drinks are banned, some visitors sneaked in canned beers through the tight security of Manila Memorial Park (Parañaque), leaving the empty cans at the Columbarium area.
To prevent the generation of Undas garbage, Ecowaste called on all local government units and cemetery administrators to enforce good practices in waste prevention and reduction as laid out in their respective Ecological Solid Waste Management plans.
“The garbage situation in all cemeteries will further improve next year if preventive measures are effectively carried out, including enjoining all visitors to bring their discards home and declaring cemeteries as plastic-free zone, especially for single-use plastics such as plastic carry bags, plates, cups, cutlery, drinking bottles, straws, stirrers, and Styrofoam containers,” the group said.
Last year, the MMDA collected more than 57 tons of trash left by visitors in various cemeteries in the National Capital Region during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.