MANILA, April 22 -- Thousands of Catholic faithful will converge in Rizal Park this today to mark the Earth Day, a special occasion promoting environmental awareness and stewardship amid the unfolding consequences of climate change.

Organized by the Archdiocese of Manila, the ecumenical, interfaith and multi-sectoral event will turn the area where the statue of Lapu-Lapu stands into an “Earth Day Laudato Si Village” to showcase beneficial environmental ideas and solutions.

“Laudato Si” (Praise be to you) refers to the thought-provoking encyclical letter issued by Pope Francis in 2015 exhorting “every person living on this planet” to “care for our common home.”

The event will also be an integral part of the #Mercy2Earth campaign initiated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement that encourages reflection and action on the papal’s message “Show Mercy to Our Common Home” where he put forward the inclusion of “care for our common home” among the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“Our celebration of the Earth Day and the Divine Mercy Sunday this weekend offers a well-timed opportunity for all of us to gather together and manifest our unity to protect God’s creation from acts of apathy, heartlessness and greed that contribute to climate change and harm human life and dignity,” said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

“Incidentally, our gathering falls on the day when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, will enter into force for the Philippines. This makes our celebration even more historic and timely,” he added.

The “Earth Day Laudato Si Village” will commence with a “Walk for Mercy2Earth” starting at 6 am from four different locations to the Lapu-Lapu monument. An inter-faith & indigenous “Prayer for the Creation” will follow after the “Breakfast Agape.”

A short sharing Pope Francis’ call to acts of mercy for our common home by Fr. Ricardo F. Valencia, Jr the minister of the Archdiocesan Ministry on Ecology/Environment and Disaster Response. The team of Filipinos who walked from the Manila to Tacloban in 2014 to commemmorate Typhoon Yolanda and also from Vatican to Paris, France in 2015 led by former Climate Change Commissioner Yeb Saño will share their memorable experiences and those of some climate change vulnerable communities.

Secretary Frances Veronica Victorio  of the Climate Change Commission will talk about the Paris Agreement and the country’s obligations under the treaty. Another speaker will be on hand to discuss the ecological use and maintenance of public parks in response to the Paris Agreement.

Representatives from parishes and schools, religious congregations and institutions, faith groups, private organizations and individuals will be invited make a “Declaration of Commitment” to divest from fossil fuels and other dirty or destructive industries, technologies and projects by signing the Laudato si Manifesto after the leaders of organizers to be led by the host LGU, Climate Change Commission, private and NGOs will UNVEIL the MURAL on the Philippine Commitment to Climate Agreement.

From 9:30 am to 2 pm simultaneous workshops and exhibits will be held showcasing various solutions to the climate crisis, including practical measures to prevent and reduce wastes and emissions that pollute the environment and warm the climate.

The organizers expect the unemployed as well as the drug surrenderees from different parish communities to benefit from the workshops where potential livelihood programs and skills can be learned. 

The “Earth Day Laudato Si Village” spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Manila involves several partners from the government, industry and civil society.

Among these collaborators include the Climate Change Commission, Metro Manila Development Authority, National Park Development Committee, United Recyclers Organization of the Philippines, Climate Reality Project, EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, City of Manila, Catholic Stewards of Creation Inc, Radyo Veritas  and the Villar SIPAG Foundation. (Archdiocese of Manila)