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Day of the Dead leaves a terrible mess

Tons of litter dumped by cemetery goers

Piles of garbage fill the cemeteries after All Saints' Day
Piles of garbage fill the cemeteries after All Saints' Day
  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • November 2, 2012
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A pollution watchdog and a bishop have both decried the widespread littering of cemeteries as millions of Catholics flock to observe All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

The annual two-day tradition of visiting the graves of loved ones -- "Undas" as it is locally known --  has become a major family affair in the Philippines.

But while tombs are cleaned and repainted, candles are lit and flowers are offered before and during the big day, tons of garbage are also left behind at the end by many of the cemetery visitors, who turn November 1 into an overnight party.

Clean-up volunteers reported seeing large amounts of litter dropped, especially around food stalls, overflowing bins and garbage dumped in vacant lots and in broken or untended tombs.

"We grieve over the massive littering on November 1 that sullies the cemeteries and adjoining streets," said Edwin Alejo, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition watchdog.

He pointed out that not a single person was apprehended and penalized for "this most basic environmental offense," which is prohibited by law.

"Litterbugs were allowed to trash their surroundings to the max without any risk of being chastised, creating ugly mini-dumpsites in cemeteries," he said.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of the public affairs committee of the bishops’ conference earlier reminded the faithful to be aware of the environment.

"Our wasteful consumption and the tons of garbage we create defy the covenant between human beings and God the Creator. This has to change if we are to get through the environmental and health woes facing our people," he said.

"We can help downsize the waste volume during Undas by being more careful with what we consume and throw away."

With more people heading for cemeteries today, EcoWaste Coalition echoed Bishop Iñiguez’s plea for an "ecological Undas."

"It is disrespectful to litter anywhere, especially in the final resting place of our departed loved ones," said Christina Vergara, the group's zero-waste campaigner. "Cemeteries are consecrated sites, not dumpsites."

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