Sunday, October 21, 2012

Only Fire of Faith

(This is my personal reflections on the first anniversary of DZVT and Chancery Building burning last October 26, 2011 but the first attempt happened exactly a year ago today, October 21, 2012 -NAN)

Canon 822, Part 3 emphasizes the importance of the media in a Particular Church’s pastoral action: “All Church’s faithful, especially those who in any way have the duty of working together so that the use of the media, are to be diligent in assisting pastoral action, so that the Church can more effective exercise its office through this means…” These words from no less than the body of legislations that regulates the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church pricked my heart as I reflect on the fate of DZVT. The Church’s owned AM radio station in Occidental Mindoro successfully razed to ashes exactly five days from this day today as reported in this news item.

I have worked as an anchor of its banner public affairs and commentary program so in one way or another, the radio station became part of my life and that is the reason why I am dwelling on this issue charged with personal and emotional contents. I have been working in our local Church and other faith-based organizations for more than 25 years and that experience made me adhered to the major tenets of the Church Social Teachings (CST) including her other doctrines. Specifically, my work heavily concerns with social action: community organizing and formation, social advocacy through social communication and other tasks related to justice, peace, love and care for God’s creation, as well as charity projects. That experience, to reiterate, made me land at “Pintig ng Bayan”, the above-mentioned radio program.

Days after that tragic crime, DZVT management apparently knowing its importance as mouthpiece of the local Church that is why they promised to immediately rebuild and once again put it on air. Where are those promises now?  What made the present hierarchy of the local Church change its mind? Questions such as these likewise turned into ashes. How can she empower the laity without potent social communication tool like the radio? 

Need not to say, radio is an instrument and tool for propagating the Church’s Social Doctrine. It is, as every man of the cloth knows, is the primary concern of our era. In the document called “Christifideles Laici” it states “The lay faithful must bear witness to those human and Gospel values that are intimately connected with political activity itself, such as liberty and justice, solidarity, faithful and unselfish dedication for the good of all, a simple lifestyle and preferential love for the poor and the least” (CL, 42). On the other hand, “It is the specific task of the hierarchy to teach authoritatively what the Church believes or holds concerning the political order” (CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics, 1997).

My heart bleeds even more to the present situation : No diocesan level initiative being laid so far on the pressing and still prevailing social issues like the Occidental Mindoro power crisis, participatory citizenship and good governance, graft and corruption, the sustained political education program, anti-gambling initiatives, actions against the programs for the care of the Earth and the likes, unlike before. Even charity projects under the diocesan Social Action Center (SAC) are already gone. We no longer assist concretely the poor through Alay Kapwa (AK) program namely the College Education Assistance Program (CEAP), relief and rehabilitation assistance to indigents and calamity-stricken communities, legal and paralegal assistance, etc. Some ministries and endeavors exist at parish and religious organization levels but ‘salt-less’ structurally. It is imperative for the Church to be involved in social action works such as social communication. 

Let us all get inspiration from Jesus, the founder of our Church. It matters not how nasty and painful are our wounds and how heavy is the cross in our shoulders, let us move on to Calvary and declare salvation. For Christ-sake, let us now move on! 

Faith is incarnate and historical. All of us apparently commit sin of omission by taking no concrete and unified actions from us who proudly call ourselves Christians or believers. Such gesture is uncalled for true men and women of faith much more those who belong to priestly ministry. No less than our local prelate issued a Pastoral Letter which was read in the masses just this morning entitled "The Truth Shall Set You Free" discussing among other things, the issue of DZVT and Chancery Building burning which I have posted here if you could remember. 

In the letter, the bishop is also urging us, the faithful, to report to authorities anything "conduct unbecoming" from man of cloth we know from our diocese. This all I have to say : our priests have to be involved once again in our mission for socio-political works as mandated by the richness our Social Doctrines and prophetic roles. By the way, the letter assured us that the investigations are still on-going and we have to pray unceasingly for the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose.

The priestly ministry initiated by Christ himself purified by fire, fire of faith and not the fire ignited by evil arsonists. The former is a fire that purifies while the latter is a fire of destruction, a fire that descends from Hades…

(Photo: Virtual

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mt. Siburan’s Biodiversity

Lunito Dasa, an Alangan Mangyan tribal leader, came to Sablayan Convention Center armed with a mud stained Tagalog manual on the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA). He and the rest of his tribesmen, more or less 30 of them, attended the Project Launch of  “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation :Mainstreaming in Agricultural Landscapes” AKA “Biodiversity Partnerships Projects” or BPP. Aside from the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), also present are representatives from various NGOs and government agencies not only from Occidental Mindoro but from their respective regional offices as well. The activity was held yesterday, October 9, 2012.

The chief implementing agency for the BPP is the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). One of the roles and functions of the PAWB is to enter into MOAs with selected National Government Agencies and NGOs as implementing partners in the sites. The bureau is also responsible for over-all management , monitoring and coordination of project implementation according to UNDP rules on managing the project. All over the Philippines, there are 8 BPP projects: 2 in Mindanao, 2 in the Visayas and 4 in Luzon.

In a letter sent to this lowly blogger in his capacity as Indigenous People’s Affairs Office (IPAO)-Designate of LGU-Sablayan, Theresita Mundita S. Lim, National Project Director of BPP stated that, “Mt. Siburan is a Key Biodiversity Area being the habitat of threatened and endemic species such as the Mindoro Bleeding-heart Pigeon, Mindoro Hornbill, among others which are globally significant for biodiversity conservation”. The project aims to assist Local Government Units (LGUs) in the country’s “eco-critical” regions to incorporate the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources in their planning systems and economic growth activities.

Here in Occidental Mindoro, the national NGO partner for the BPP is the Haribon Foundation. They are tasked to provide co-financing for the project and serve as implementing partners in the sites where they are working on. One representative from Haribon also sits as member of the Project Board.

Over couple bottles of beer some weeks ago, Haribon’s Charlou Ormega told me that the target beneficiaries and on-site partners of the project are the 2 LGUs (Municipal and Provincial), the 2 IP groups in the municipality,- the SASAMA for the Alangans and FAMATODI for the Taobuids, local communities and local stakeholders like the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm or the SPPF. Haribon works in Sablayan in various projects for less than a decade now.

By the way, this year commemorate the 40th year of Haribon's existence. We are fully aware that Haribon was instrumental in the formation of other environmental organizations in the country. So my wishes to the Haribon “eaglets” I was able to rubbed elbows with yesterday like Astrid Villanueva, Lira Canals and Ma’am Annabelle Plantilla, their Chief Operation Officer. Ms. Plantilla in her keynote address stressed that then and especially now under Mayor Ed Gadiano’s watch, Sablayan is a champion for the cause of the environment.

After the BPP Presentation by UNDP-PAWBs Ms. Joy Reyes there was an open forum and it became healthy and objective. Lunito and the rest of the Alangan’s also fearlessly and actively participated and shared their views. In the afternoon, there were 2 sets of Consultation Workshops,the Biodiversity-Friendly Businesses and Market LED Opportunities for Green Economy and another for Biodiversity-friendly Agricultural Practices. I joined the IPs and the Haribon people for a separate Focused Group Discussion or FGD.

Before the Kick-Off activity for the Mt. Siburan BPP ended, Ma’am Mutia Bambalan, Regional Technical Director of DENR’s PAWCZMS synthesized its process and announced the activities for the Tamaraw Month this October.

Lunito rose from his seat and put back his mud stained IPRA Manual inside his ‘pasiking’ smiled at me and uttered, “Hindi lang ng Tamaraw, buwan din ng KATUTUBO at ng IPRA ngayong Oktubre. Nalimutan...”   


(Photo: Sablayan.Net)