Philippines Interfaith Dialogue on the “Earth in Peril”

tacloban city Philippines typhoon damage wikicommons

In the Philippines, it is a safe guess to say, there are no climate deniers. One of the hallmarks of global warming is catastrophic weather events, and the Philippine Islands have been facing more than enough weather-related destruction in recent years. Accompanying an onslaught of catastrophic typhoons, interfaith dialogues are convening regularly, focusing on the very real evidence of an “Earth in Peril.”

The daunting challenge of climate change was lately re-addressed last weekend at an interfaith dialogue held in Bacolod City, in the Philippines. Attended by leaders and representatives of many faith-based organizations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, the theme of the one-day conference was “Earth in Peril.”

The 6th Interfaith Dialogue on Climate Change

The co-convenor of the conference was Climate Change Commission (CCC) Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez, who said that the dialogue focus was on attaining energy, water, and food security.

Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said, “This Interfaith Dialogue, which brings together the greatest religions in the world, is critical in the effort to educate and inform our people about the clear and present dangers of climate change.”

Headed by the Climate Change Commission, the Interfaith Dialogues are co-convened by the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources.

Held on November 4, 2014 at the Nature’s Village Resort in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Island of the Philippines, this was the 6th Interfaith Dialogue on Climate Change. Launched in 2010, previous dialogues have been held in Malacañang, Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban, and Marikina City.

image (Image note and source: From Nature’s Village Resort, Padre Pio pavillion conference center.)

President Aquino: “The Filipino Spirit Is…Anchored in Faith and Solidarity”

In a previous message to an interfaith dialogue last March, President Aquino said, “The Filipino spirit is unyielding for it is anchored in faith and solidarity. Even the most daunting of storms could not bring our countrymen to their knees and disrupt the promise of our resurgence. It has become imperative upon our country to raise awareness on sustainability and engage the greater community of nations in committing to intergenerational progress.”

In October, the Interfaith Dialogue Committee also conducted a post-disaster talk addressing the current rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban City that was devastated by typhoon Yolanda last year. Speaking last weekend, Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines said “The poor are the worst affected since they do not have the land, the means and resources to hurdle the impacts of climate change, of one typhoon after another. There should be intergenerational justice for all, decisively and immediately.”

tacloban typhoon damage by trocaire flickr(Image note and source: Tacloban city typhoon devastation, from Trocaire, flickr)

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Island of the Philippines

Bacolod City, also known as the “City of Smiles,” currently has a fast-growing information technology and business process management operations industry that has received many awards and accolades. In spite of its rapid modern advancements, the city still is highly vulnerable to flooding.

Commissioner Alvarez said that Bacolod City could be impacted by the adverse effects of global warming, negatively affecting the city’s great economic potential. Additional speakers from the government, religious, and private sectors in the region additionally addressed the significant challenge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, within the context of religious principles, social justice, and sustainable development.

bacolod city philippines wikicommons(Image note and source: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Island, the Philippines, from wikicommons)

“The Earth Is a Gift Given by the Creator”

Bishop Efraim Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), the conference director, said, “As people of faith we have a distinct role in addressing climate change. We have to remind people of various faiths that the Earth is a gift given by the Creator to all mankind so we should protect it.”

Climate Change Commissioner Alvarez concluded, “Climate change is the great moral challenge of the 21st Century. As religious leaders add their powerful voices to protest the rising tide of carbon emissions, there is immense hope that mankind will prevail.”

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About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid (Birth-name Kathleen Vail) is a freelance lifestyle and environmental science writer currently living in Vancouver, BC. Her interests include environmental conservation, climate science, renewable energy, faith-based environmental activism, sustainable economics, corporate social responsibility, creative lifestyles, and healthy living.