Two cemeteries praised for ‘Undas’ solid waste management
Although there were improvements in cemetery garbage disposal this year, littering was still rampant, an environmentalist group says

FILTH. Garbage causes flooding in Manila Memorial Park during Undas 2013. Photo by Krista Garcia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Two Manila cemeteries were commended by environmentalists for improved solid waste management on All Saints’ Day.

Green group EcoWaste Coalition gave Manila North Cemetery in Manila and Manila South Cemetery in Makati the “Most Improved Award” for spreading awareness of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The two cemeteries posted signages in strategic areas to remind visitors of the law that prohibits littering and dumping garbage within cemetery grounds. The management of the cemeteries also installed appropriately-labelled garbage bins around the cemetery.

The group also recognized the efforts of volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation and other groups who collected disposed recyclables by giving them the “Pulot Para Sa Kalikasan Award.”

“We commend the efforts by the new management of the Manila North and South Cemeteries to increase public awareness against littering, improve cleanliness and introduce operational programs on ecological solid waste management in their respective domains of supervision, said Tin Vergara, campaigner from green group EcoWaste Coalition.

‘Bad’ awards

But not all the awards given out were worth boasting about.

The green group also gave”awards” to violators of the solid waste management law such as the “Pako Award” which went to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City for nailing the most number of trees with tarpaulin advertisements. Among the advertisers were Jollibee, Chowking, Goldilocks, Army Navy, Shakey’s, Yellow Cab, KFC, Lots’ a Pizza and Sogo Hotel.

RESPECT THE DEAD. Environmentalists urge cemetery visitors to properly dispose of trash during All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Photo by Jose Del

Nailing anything on trees violates Republic Act 3571, which “prohibits the cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.”

The “Kalat Award” was given to real estate agents whose brochures ended up littering cemetery grounds.

Rampant littering continues

Despite the improvements in garbage disposal this Undas, littering during the holiday was still rampant, grieved Aileen Lucero, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

“Although the volume of trash may not be as bad as in previous years, we find the littering that again marred the observance of Undas regrettable as cemeteries are hallowed places and should be garbage-free. Litterbugs should mind their bad habits and try recycling next time,” she said.

Among the most visible garbage left by visitors were food leftovers, disposable plates, cups, cutlery, styrofoam containers, pizza boxes, plastic bags and bottles, soiled brown bags, newspapers, candy and snack wrappers, cigarette filters and commercial leaflets.

Ash and partially burnt materials found in some street corners, vacant lots and near tombs also indicated open burning was done.

The EcoWaste Coalition patrollers visited Caloocan Public Cemetery in Caloocan City; Manila Memorial Park in Dasmariñas City, Cavite; Manila South Cemetery in Makati City; Garden of Life Public Cemetery in Mandaluyong City; Manila North Cemetery in Manila City; Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City; Loyola Memorial Park and Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Pasay Public Cemetery in Pasay City; Bagbag Public Cemetery and Holy Cross Memorial Park in Quezon City. – Pia Ranada/