Some of the youth-participants gather in front of the San Carlos Borromeo Cathedral before the caravan and walk for the environment in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Friday (November 30, 2018). (Photo courtesy of Social Action Center-San Carlos)
BACOLOD CITY -- About 5,000 parishioners and youth advocates in northern Negros joined the caravan and walk calling for a coal-free island in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Friday.
The activity was part of the culmination of the Year of the Clergy and the launching of the Year of the Youth, led by the Diocese of San Carlos.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said the overarching theme of the two celebrations is a collective call to make Negros a clean and coal-free island.
“The caravan hopes to call attention to our cry on behalf of the Mother Earth and the voiceless,” he added.
The participants brought placards, tarpaulins and slogans which read, among others, “Coal Off,” “No to Coal,” and “Yes to Renewable Energy,” reflecting their opposition to the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant by SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. in San Carlos City.
The environmental walk started from the San Carlos Borromeo Cathedral while the caravan of parishes kicked off from the Bishop’s Home. All the participants converged at the City Auditorium, where a concelebrated mass was held.
In his homily, Alminaza stressed the need to “respect each of God’s creatures and the environment in which we live.”
“Protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, is what the Book of Genesis tells us and Saint Francis of Assisi showed us,” he added.
“Whenever human being fails to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened,” the bishop added.
The concelebrated mass was also joined by vicar general Msgr. Eugene Peral, vicar for the clergy Msgr. Jing Baldo, and vicar forane of Cadiz City Fr. Erwin Magnanao, who is also the director of Diocesan Commission on Youth.
Part of the gathering was the unveiling of the logo of the “No to Coal” advocacy while the crowd sang the original theme song for the Year of the Youth: Missionaries of Love.
Alminaza said that as the church celebrates the Year of the Youth, the young people should engage in the call for a clean environment.
“The struggle might take a long time, it requires energy creativity and dynamism and our youth have them in abundance as we witnessed during the activity,” the bishop added.
The Diocese of San Carlos is comprised of parishes in the cities of San Carlos, Cadiz, Sagay and Escalante, and municipalities of Calatrava, Toboso, Salvador Benedicto and Manapla in Negros Occidental, as well as the cities of Canlaon and Guihulngan; and the towns of Vallehermoso and La Libertad in Negros Oriental. (PNA)