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‘Epal’ politicians told: Keep off Quiapo fiesta

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12:31 AM January 8th, 2013

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January 8th, 2013 12:31 AM

Please don’t give in to “tarpaulitics” temptation.

An environmental watchdog yesterday urged politicians not to put up their “Happy Fiesta” tarpaulins along the processional route of the image of the Black Nazarene as they defile the solemnity of the occasion.

“Tarpaulitics,” or what is popularly called “epal,” refers to the shameless use of tarpaulins to advertise the names and faces of politicians and election candidates.

“Tarpaulins do not lead to a happy fiesta. In fact, tarpaulins are a nuisance that can confuse the spiritual message of unity,” Edwin Alejo, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator, said in a statement.

Propaganda tarpaulins also add to the enormous fiesta clutter and trash that will have to be disposed of later, the group said.

“[They] block the public view of the procession, harm the trees and mess up the bridges, electric cables, lampposts and structures where the tarps are usually fastened or hung,” Alejo said.

The feast commemorates the first procession to transfer the Black Nazarene from a church in Intramuros to the minor basilica in Quiapo held on Jan. 9, 1767.

Many take part in the annual feast to implore God for help in solving money, family or business problems. Some come to ask to be healed of maladies.

The original statue, which shows Christ bent under the weight of a heavy cross, was made by a Mexican sculptor and brought to Manila by a Recollect priest in 1607.

The image arrived from Mexico on board a ship that had caught fire. It did not entirely escape the blaze, resulting in its charcoal color.

Alejo said it was very tempting for politicians eyeing the 2013 elections to use the occasion to sell themselves through “happy fiesta” tarpaulin banners.

“We appeal to their sense of propriety and defy such a temptation,” Alejo added. “Tarpaulitics has no place in an event whose only focus, should and must be, the Black Nazarene.”

Instead of spending on tarpaulins, EcoWaste urged politicians to provide devotees with free meals in biodegradable or reusable packaging, provide waste segregation bins in appropriate spots and pay for personnel to help in the postfiesta cleanup.

Last year, the Manila police district director said 1.2 million attended a dawn Mass at Quirino Grandstand before the procession began, and 1.5 million others muscled their way through the streets to bring the icon to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

The then National Capital Region Police Office chief placed the number of devotees who attended the Mass and lined the 5-kilometer procession route at 7 million to 7.5 million. Reports from Erika Sauler and Jeannette I. Andrade

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