MATI, Davao Oriental, April 14, 2011?More than 700 villagers coming from different barangays of Davao Oriental rallied the cause of an endangered Mother Earth during the 41st World Earth Day held on April 12.
The villagers including children cuddled by their parents, came from the barangays comprising the three gulf towns and one city of Davao Orientalâ€”Banaybanay, Lupon, San Isidro and Mati Cityâ€” converged in the City Poblacion and lined the streets crossing the side of the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral and an adjacent spacious gasoline station.
Intense noonday heat did not hamper but instead added to the fire of the impassioned environmental advocates who marked World Earth Day ten days earlier than the actual date, as April 22nd this year falls on Good Friday.
The barrio folks came out of their farm-fields and fishing grounds and assembled for an orientation at the St. Scholasticaâ€™s Enfide managed by the Order of St. Benedict sisters in Bigue, Barangay Dawan prior to the rally.
Everyone partook of an agape lunch prepared the night before by the women coordinators representing the body clusters. Afterr lunch, nine cargo trucks and two vans packed with people formed an orderly Earth caravan procession towards the makeshift stage in Mati.
Spearheading the event was Panalipdan Davao Oriental, a multi-sectoral group dedicated to Environmental protection, while other organizations and private individuals stood by to witness the activity or militantly listen and express support to the talks and messages delivered by adults and youth from the religious and civic sectors. Group singing and role playing entertained the crowd waiting for the program proper to start at 1:30 pm.
After a prayer-invocation, Panalipdan chairman Wencislao Mapa welcomed everyone present and gave a short rationale of the celebration, alluding to the PCP II Call: â€œBecause the integrity of Godâ€™s creation is violated, our people suffer the destructionâ€¦ those disasters cannot be traced merely to the uncontrollable powers of nature, but also to human greed for short-term economical gain.â€ (Acts no. 323).
Representatives from the Alyansang Magbubukid sa Sidlakang Davao Oriental (Almasid), Farmers in Sustainable Agricultural Development (Fasad), Kinaiyahan, Katungod Panalipdan (KKP), the Social Action Apostolate, youth organizations, various religious sisters, the media, and Mati Bishop Patricio H. Alo delivered challenging and provoking talks in the context of natural calamities being experienced and ecocidal crimes such as destructive logging, mining, and fishing.
A common message focused on the theme: â€œBarugan ang Kabuhatan, Panalipdan ang Nasudnong Bahandi sa Kinaiyahanâ€ (Uphold Creation, Protect the Nationâ€™s Rich Resources and Environment).
Bishop Patricio H. Alo cited the 1st chapter of the Book of Genesis on the creation of the world and man and woman, picking verse 28 which reads, â€œGod blessed them and said to them, â€˜Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue itâ€¦â€™â€
The bishop thanked everyone present for their cooperation and acknowledged the active initiative of the organizers ? Panalipdan and the Benedictine Sisters? encouraging each person and group to live the selfless love of Christ by showing respect to one another and the natural environment: air, land, forests, and springs and streams of water. The program ended with a special blessing by the bishop upon all present.
Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970 every 22nd of April. During the 1st Earth Day, around 20 million demonstrators rallied in the streets calling for a parliamentary discussion that the issue on environmental crisis be addressed in the political agenda. (Sr. Marietta Alo, OND)