National Parks Development Committee keeps Luneta as top ‘go-to spot’ on holidays

January 03, 2019

Congratulations are in order for the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), headed by its executive director Penelope Belmonte, for the successful and efficient handling of hundreds of thousands of parkgoers who trooped to the Luneta Park during the holidays.

On Christmas eve and Christmas Day, about 500,000 came to the park and on New Year’s Eve, the number of park visitors reached at least 100,000 to witness the yearly countdown to New Year’s Day.  Mind you, the latter event registered at that a lower number due to the rains.

While Belmonte is glad that Luneta remains the top ‘go-to’ place for many Filipinos during the holidays, the huge volume of trash left behind by parkgoers who spent the night in Luneta to usher in Christmas Day and those who were there the whole of Christmas Day was just so appaling and smacks of lack of discipline on the part of the visiting public.

The news and sight of trash everywhere shocked everyone and could only make one shake his head in shame for those who used the park.

It also prompted urgent calls not only on the part of Belmonte but even  Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat herself as well as various environmental watchdogs for the public not to do a repeat come New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day.

Particularly, Belmonte’s disappointment stemmed from the fact that despite the number of huge signs conspicuously put up in strategic areas of the park premises calling on visitors to help keep the park premises clean and directing them where they should throw their trash and the presence of so many huge trash bins, many of the parkgoers still opted to leave their trash behind.   What a shame!

And also despite the non-stop cleaning efforts of park utility personnel, the litter seemed endless. Belmonte was at a loss for words as she expressed pity and empathy for those tasked with cleaning after the park visitors.

Learning from this experience, Belmonte decided to close to the public several parts of the Luneta Park during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day so that the revelry  -- and the accompanying trash -- will be concentrated in certain areas only.

Besides, Belmonte said she wanted to ensure that our national park, Luneta  -- also known as Rizal Park, will be its usual ‘spic and span’ self as the New Year ushers in.

The formula proved to be effective as minimal trash was left behind by parkgoers who trooped to Luneta on New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day, compared to those who went there on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Come January 9, the park premises will once again become the venue of a gathering of mammoth crowds as it hosts the biggest religious event in the country.

The day preceding the yearly Feast of the Black Nazarene has hundreds of thousands of devotees gathering and lining up for the traditional ‘Pahalik’ or the kissing of the holy icon at the Quirino Grandstand.

This culminates on the feast day itself, where more will be gathering for an early morning mass in the same venue and from where the highlight of the celebration, which is the procession itself or ‘Traslacion,’ will be kicking off.

It’s just moronic how a few could put the blame on the park management for the mess created by the park visitors when clearly, the blame rests solely on those who used the park premises and wantonly threw their litter left and right, unmindful of the park regulations and the clean state of the area when they arrived there.

Sec. Puyat thus called on the public to be responsible and reminded everyone that ‘preserving our country’s destinations is also the duty of its citizens’.                         

The EcoWaste Coalition said it is saddened and dismayed at the trashes left by thousands of visitors of Luneta on Christmas and criticized the lack of discipline of Filipinos when it comes to throwing garbages.                                        

Those who littered the park ought to be ashamed of themselves. They are not only setting a bad example to their kids but also show their utter disrespect for simple regulations, the environment and their fellow men.

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