Just recently, when the whole Catholic Church celebrated the Pope’s Day, the Archdiocese of Lipa gathered its flock in a unique celebration in Lobo Town Plaza, Lobo, Batangas. It might not have been a typical religious event honoring the Holy Pontiff on his special day coinciding the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, 2015, but it for sure has championed a special cause for the environment. The concelebrated mass offered which was heard by thousands of participants from all over the province and visitors representing various environmental groups in the country was especially consecrated for the alarming large mining proposals in the mountains of Lobo.

One with the natives of Lobo, the local church and the whole province of Batangas, OLCAn administrators and select student leaders attended the mass which was followed by a multi- sectoral rally led by the priests of the Archdiocese of Lipa, with Rev. Fr. Dakila Ramos, a native of Lobo at the forefront. The homily highlighted that mining and other environmental hazards are not anymore a scientific but a moral issue deserving to be resolved by moral and spiritual means. It was also made clear that the position of the Catholic Church, has remained firm in the light of ecological stewardship. In Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home, published June 18, 2015), he stresses through the words of the beautiful canticle of St. Francis of Assisi, that earth is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.” And that this sister now is crying out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which God has endowed her.

The clamor “No to Mining in Lobo” has just become louder as more and more people from different sectors are now cognizant of the potential long term damaging impact that it may cause to the environment especially to the Verde Island Passage which is hailed and proclaimed internationally to be the ‘Center of Earth’s Marine Biodiversity.’ “The battle has just began,” the organizers commented. But they are aware as well that the hurdles are seemingly more complicated as there are also legal issues to be settled. Even so, with the strong support that the local church and academic institutions like OLCA have been extending, this battle will not only be a fight of the environmentalists and conservationists, but by everyone, for our Sister, Mother Earth.