Brother Moun­tains

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

WHEN I be­came a Catholic Charis­matic in 2015, I didn’t turn my back on en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism but ex­panded it.

I em­braced Fran­cis­can spir­i­tu­al­ity. The Fran­cis­can em­pha­sis on the good­ness of God and His cre­ation is the out­pour­ing of God’s love into the uni­verse.

Fran­cis­cans call cre­ation “the mir­ror of God” and that God has two books of cre­ation—sa­cred Scrip­ture and cre­ation. And the faith in a good God has im­pli­ca­tions for the In­car­na­tion and sal­va­tion his­tory. The Word of God be­came in­car­nate not be­cause the world is full of sin but in or­der to trans­form the world into a com­mu­nion of love cen­tered in Christ.

As Prayer guides, we hold our Desert in si­lence and to be close to trees, plants, or an­i­mals, even the earth­worms. In the saint’s Can­ti­cle of the Sun, he wrote “Praised be You my Lord with all Your crea­tures, es­pe­cially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day through whom You give us light. And he is beau­ti­ful and ra­di­ant with great splen­dor, Of You Most High, he bears the like­ness.”

In 2002, dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional Year of the Moun­tains, I drafted the Ne­gros IYM covenant. I had as in­spi­ra­tion St. Fran­cis of As­sisi.

Par­tic­i­pants to a Ne­gros-wide IYM con­fer­ence pledged to a Covenant kin­ship “with all moun­tain peo­ples and be­fore God my Cre­ator.”

We vowed to “ar­rest the degra­da­tion of the moun­tains, which be­cause of chem­i­cal-based plan­ta­tions and de­for­esta­tion caused by un­sus­tain­able log­ging, in­dus­trial in­tru­sion, poverty and the ab­sence of sta­ble po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions is spi­ral­ing into fur­ther tree losses, soil ero­sion, water cri­sis, floods, and droughts;

Pre­serve the moun­tains as is­lands of bio­di­ver­sity in the midst of land­scapes of mono­cul­ture, where be­cause of their iso­la­tion, have pro­vided a haven for God’s creations of in­fi­nite life forms and be­stowed our world with plants, an­i­mals, wildlife, with trees, forests, with water and with food;

Re­spect the moun­tain women and men who over the mil­len­nia stood as guardians and stew­ards of moun­tain bio­di­ver­sity, who with their indige­nous knowl­edge in man­ag­ing their com­mu­nity re­sources, in iden­ti­fy­ing plants with heal­ing pow­ers and other uses and in har­vest­ing food, fod­der and fu­el­wood from forests are help­ing sus­tain our food and our life;

Work for peace, jus­tice, and hu­man rights which be­cause of in­equitable ac­cess to re­sources, has de­gen­er­ated into flash­points of armed con­flicts—from the moun­tains of Ne­gros, Basi­lan, and Afghanista­n to the Balkans, the Cau­ca­sus and the Hi­malayas—rep­re­sent the most sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers to sus­tain­ing the de­vel­op­ment of moun­tains;

En­able moun­tain peo­ples to achieve em­pow­er­ment through pro­grams and poli­cies that in­clude rein­vest­ing for­est rev­enues for moun­tain com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion; sup­port­ing com­mu­nity-based prop­erty rights, pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture; link­ing indige­nous and main­stream sci­en­tific knowl­edge sys­tems; de­cen­tral­iz­ing power and ac­count­abil­ity and forg­ing al­liances of var­i­ous sec­tors, com­mu­ni­ties, faith, and na­tions.

With God, my Covenant Kin and the world as my wit­nesses, I pledge to do my Covenant obli­ga­tions from hereon, on this solemn day of the In­ter­na­tional Year of the Moun­tains 2002 in my beloved is­land of Ne­gros.

So help me God.

Much as we pledged 16 years ago still res­onate to­day.* (bq­[email protected]­

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