MANILA - At least 2,000 ecology volunteers will be mobilized to ensure that "mercy and compassion" toward the environment is observed during the papal visit from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015.
According to Lou Arsenio, programme coordinator of the Ecology Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila, the volunteers will make sure that areas around the papal routes and the venue for Pope Francis' Eucharistic celebration at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park will be kept garbage-free before, during and after the event on Jan. 18.
Tapped to implement the environmental plan dubbed "Makakalikasang Kaayusan ng Papal Visit" is the Ecology Ministry Network, the coordinating group between the government's waste management groups and other volunteers.
Arsenio said the ecology volunteers will include government groups and street people who usually assist them during similar public events, such as the feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
In a post on papalvisit.ph, the papal visit's official website, Arsenio said the ministry's goal was to "educate our people on the environment advocacies of Pope Francis, especially on (the) care for God's creation through nonwasteful lifestyles."
Bags of trash
Arsenio recalled how previous big events, like the 2003 World Meeting of Families at the Luneta attended by no less than 500,000 participants, produced around a thousand bags of trash.
Papal visit organizers expect between four and six million people at the Quirino Grandstand for the Pope's Eucharistic celebration on Jan. 18.
Meanwhile, at the papal event at the University of Sto. Tomas, also on Jan. 18, students from member schools of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) in Luzon have been invited to be part of Pope Francis' meeting with the youth in Manila.
Only students from CEAP schools in Luzon have been invited as "it might be too costly" for those from the Visayas and Mindanao to get to Manila, said Anthony Coloma, CEAP's advocacy and information management officer.
"It's more practical that way. It's best to limit (the event) to students who can travel by land," Coloma said, adding that although invitations have been sent to the more than 400 CEAP member schools in Luzon, participation in the event is still on "a first-come, first-served basis," with the CEAP sending 6,000 participants.