Celebrating the Season of Creation in the Philippines

John Din is a Columban Lay Missionary who works in the area of ecology in the Philippines. He provides an update of how the Season of Creation will be celebrated in his homeland.

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Since the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched their National Laudato Si’ Program, many things have already changed. Before, the Laudato Si’ Movement Pilipinas (formerly Global Catholic Climate Movement – Pilipinas) used to lobby to get the endorsement from the CBCP for Laudato Si’ Week and the Season of Creation celebrations. Now, these two Laudato Si’ related events are already endorsed by CBCP so that now most of the work we are presently doing is about providing a platform for coordination between the church and civil society organizations.

For Laudato Si’ week, it was great to see an interfaith celebration opening the week-long activities. Religious leaders from different faiths, together with the indigenous people in the Philippines, were in unison decrying the Philippine government’s decision to lift the mining ban.

Around the world, the Season of Creation is celebrated starting on September 1st and ending on October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In the Philippines, the Season of Creation has been extended to the second Sunday of October, which is Indigenous People’s Sunday. This is an affirmation of the role indigenous people’s wisdom, traditions, and practices play in responding to the current crises of biodiversity loss and climate emergency. (Indigenous 12 peoples comprise 10-20% of the Philippine population.) Certainly, there is a similarity between St. Francis’ worldview and indigenous peoples’ worldview.

For the Season of Creation 2021, the Philippine church, under the leadership of the National Laudato Si’ Program, will launch the roll out of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. Working committees for the seven sectors (families, parishes and dioceses, educational institutions, hospital and health care centers, economy, organizations and groups, religious orders) are organizing webinars to introduce and explore how each sector can engage in the journey towards living out the vision of Laudato Si’. According to Fr. Tony Labiao, executive secretary of CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice, and Peace and head of the National Laudato Si’ Program, the CBCP will operationalize the different episcopal commissions to roll out the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

During the celebration of the Season of Creation, we will also intensify the promotion of the Healthy Planet Healthy People Petition. Before the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Philippines gathered around 800,000 signatures of the more than 900,000 submitted to influence the participants of COP21.

This year we will again gather signatures to influence two major and interrelated meetings on biodiversity loss and climate change. We hope to gather more than one million online signatures.

The climate emergency is here. So too is biodiversity loss, the threats of natural disasters, the Covid-19 pandemic, human rights violation, red tagging, and corruption and incompetence of government leaders. These are not separate issues. They are interrelated and interconnected. They reinforce each other, making it an enormous task to shape a new and more just normal.

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