Sunday, 25 January 2015

“Our young Filipino artists want to welcome the Pope with an image that doesn’t gloss over the hardships and the plight of the Filipino people.”

# DearPope | Artists unveil 30-foot tapestry painting to welcome Pontiff

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MANILA – A 30-foot tapestry-painting depicting Pope Francis in solidarity with the marginalized sectors of society was unveiled by young artists on Thursday, Jan. 15 hours before he arrived.
“Our young Filipino artists want to welcome the Pope with an image that doesn’t gloss over the hardships and the plight of the Filipino people,” said Einstein Recedes, spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP).
Photo by Kodao Productions
Photo by Kodao Productions
Artists from youth groups Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA), UgatLahi Artist Collective, Kamanyang, and Alay Sining “spent a week of nonstop painting to finish the artwork.”

The tapestry-painting is one of the highlights of the week-long “Youth Camp for Pope Francis.” It was unveiled after an ecumenical service at the Liwasang Bonifacio dubbed as “Pagsambang Bayan ng Maralita” also on Thursday.

In the painting, Pope Francis is flanked by a farm laborer and a contractual worker on the left, and on the right, a young woman, and a member of the indigenous group. The young woman’s image was based on Lorena Barros, student leader and founder of the women’s group Makibaka, who was killed during the Martial Law era.
Recedes said the painting sends the message that the Pontiff and the Catholic Church “is one with the people.”

“This is exactly what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel – that God is living with and through the people,” he added.

On Wednesday, Jan. 14, different youth and students group splashed white, yellow, red and blue colored powder along España Boulevard as opening salvo of the week-long Youth Camp.

“The Filipino youth would like to welcome Pope Francis with warmest regards. He is truly an inspiration, especially for youth groups that advocate social change,” Recedes said.
The Christian youth leader said they opted to use colored throwing powder to highlight the festive nature of the Pope’s apostolic visit. “We are literally throwing our hands in the air as the hour of the Pope’s arrival draws near. The nation must indeed celebrate, for here is a Pope who champions the poor. Here is a leader that recognizes the roots of inequality. Here is a Pope who is truly an ally of the marginalized and the oppressed,” Recedes added.
Photo from the Facebook page of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Photo from the Facebook page of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines

Meanwhile, progressive youth group Anakbayan offered an “alternative itinerary” or a list of things Pope Francis can do to “totally rock his visit in the Philippines:”

1) Put to shame the corrupt, pro-pork government. “We’d tell him to ditch the Malacanang visit but since it’s a state visit and he’s obliged to do so, he can ‘make the most out of it’ and deliver a scathing speech against corruption and pork barrel.”

2) Walk with the poor in Payatas. “Urban poor groups are preparing a ‘pagpag’ feast. Pagpag is food picked from restaurant leftovers— the Manila poor’s typical daily meal.”

3) Go to Hacienda Luisita. “A visit to the President’s Hacienda to meet farmworkers will surely send a strong message for land reform and social justice.”

4) Ride the MRT. “Pope Francis, son of a railway employee, a commuter who took the train and the bus when he was a bishop, and a critic of capitalism would surely stand against the recent MRT / LRT fare hikes.”

5) Go to a mall to meet the contractual workers. “Pope Francis also called for ‘just wage.’ He would surely be indignant of the state of contractual workers and workers in general in the country.”

6) Call to stop tuition hikes in UST. “Catholic schools are among the biggest private schools in the country, and also among those with high tuition rates and campus fees. It would be a good idea for them to lead in scrapping school fees and tuition rates.”

7) Bless the sick in Fabella and other public hospitals. “With the sorry state of the nation’s public hospitals, and the push to privatize health service under Aquino, the sick would need someone to speak up for a pro-people health system.”

8) Meet with People Surge. “For sure, the Aquino government has made arrangements to cover-up the real situation of the victims along with its criminal accountability in the disaster response epic fail. The Pope can meet directly with families of the victims and know firsthand their real situation. People Surge is the alliance of victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “

9) Take a selfie with political detainees and call for their release. “Political detainees have also been fasting to send their message to the Pope.”

10) Broker the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “The NDFP has welcomed the Pope and has recently sent positive messages regarding the resumption of peace talks.”

Photo from the Facebook page of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Photo from the Facebook page of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines

“Whether he does these or not, for sure, the Pope will surprise us with his message of hope, solidarity and struggle for change. His visit should be a call to Catholics and all Filipinos to be more active in the fight for meaningful social change in the Philippine,” the group said in a statement.

On Jan. 17, a youth vigil will be staged near University of Santo Tomas in anticipation for the Papal Youth Encounter slated on Jan. 18. (

Sunday, 4 January 2015

But in the holiday rush, amid the pushing and shoving in malls and grocery stores and the endless greetings of “Merry Christmas,” is the reality that we still live in a world of distress and misery brought about by an unjust economic order and by environmental plunder by a market-driven economy, and by violations of economic, political and civil rights.

I wonder how we could catch on the message of a baby Jesus who was born in a stable. I wonder if he were physically walking with us now, would he be able to buy something for an exchange gift during Christmas?

This thought reminded me of an experience I had in a public school two years ago. The boy was so skinny, it was only his belt that held his visibly much-used short pants from dropping. In fact, his shorts and shirt looked too large for him that his uniform seemed to swallow him. His eyes were pinned on the bags of gifts the Promotion of Church People’s Response had prepared as if he was afraid they would disappear the moment he took his eyes off them.

When the time came to distribute the gifts, the little boy shyly but happily received his share—a gift bag and a packed lunch. He slowly opened the bag and stole a look on what was inside. Then he carefully placed the packed lunch inside the bag and quietly stayed put in his chair. I approached him, touched his back but so softly because he seemed so fragile. I engaged him in Tagalog, “Are you not going to eat your lunch?” His tiny reply made a very powerful and heartwarming message: “I’m bringing this to my brothers and sisters and my mother. We will eat this together.”

Acts of sharing and giving love are not something young children in our poor
communities talk about. These things the children just do, without much fuss. They can always sacrifice without feeling like heroes. Some would eat their lunch because they came to school without breakfast. Others would save a portion to give as “pasalubong” for their siblings.

The teachers who had first-hand knowledge about the children’s predicaments told us that the children they had chosen to receive our gifts were the poorest among their pupils in Tondo. Most of them were scavengers, street vendors, and from homeless families.
I thought then, if Jesus, the one whose birth we were celebrating, were in our midst, maybe He would be one of those children lining up for the Christmas gift and lunch. I thought He would also share whatever He’d get from His parents—Mary and Joseph.

But in the holiday rush, amid the pushing and shoving in malls and grocery stores and the endless greetings of “Merry Christmas,” is the reality that we still live in a world of distress and misery brought about by an unjust economic order and by environmental plunder by a market-driven economy, and by violations of economic, political and civil rights.

The living testimony of children who naturally, unselfishly share the gifts they receive lights our hearts with a glimmer of hope—that while the dominant capitalist economic system contradicts the values children show, the radical generosity of the poor will herald the great good news of justice for and redemption of a broken world.

Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan,

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Friday, 5 December 2014

This madness is the direct result of the global capitalist system that is predicated on unending growth in extraction, production, consumption and waste for unending growth in profits. A tiny fraction of the world’s population benefit from this system — the richest one per cent of people now own nearly half of all global wealth. Developed economies, accounting for 15% of the global population use about half of the global resources and contribute the most in terms of environmental degradation.

People of the World, Surge Forward to Climate Justice!

November 1, 2014
On the first year of Typhoon Haiyan
People of the World, Surge Forward for Climate Justice!
Download a copy of the statement here.
It has been a year since Typhoon Haiyan struck central Philippines: one of the strongest and deadliest tropical cyclones ever recorded, leaving tens of thousands of people dead and missing, millions homeless and livelihoods destroyed.
In commemoration of the first year of Typhoon Haiyan and to honor all the victims of the global climate crisis, we declare this day, November 8, as International Day for Climate-Affected Communities as we call on all climate-impacted communities and their organizations to unite in demanding justice and system change.
Photo by Kate Yamzon
The sufferings of the communities hit by Typhoon Haiyan are also true in countless other places around the world. Globally, the number of reported weather-related disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Every year, these disasters result in over 60,000 deaths, mainly in underdeveloped countries. Direct economic losses (averaging US$100 billion per annum in the last decade) in relation to GDP were more than double in low-income countries in contrast with high-income countries. On average, 250 million people are affected annually, up by more than 30 per cent in just a decade as a result of climate change. Women suffer the most in morbidity (up to 14 times more), the long-term loss of livelihoods, forced migration, climate related conflicts, and yet have the least influence over climate policies at local and international levels.
The Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea are literally sinking, with king tides washing away crops and rising sea levels poisoning those that remain with salt. Indigenous population have been forced to flee and relocate, making them the world’s first climate refugees.
In Central America, as in many places in the Global South, warming climates have resulted in reduced yields, increases in pests and plant diseases, and losses in livestock. The same is true in a number of countries in Africa, like Kenya where perennial drought has decimated most of the livestock and crops of small-scale farmers and pastoral communities. This is catastrophic for regions where millions of people heavily depend on agriculture for their food and incomes.
In the South Asian region, frequent and more intense rainfall is destroying lives and livelihood. In Pakistan, frequent and intense weather patterns are destroying harvests, particularly in South Punjab and Sindh provinces which provide much of the wheat and rice supply for the whole country. In June 2013 in Uttarakhand, India more than 5700 people were reportedly killed by flashfloods and landslides. This year, the state of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed intense rainfall 400 times the average rainfall.
This madness is the direct result of the global capitalist system that is predicated on unending growth in extraction, production, consumption and waste for unending growth in profits. A tiny fraction of the world’s population benefit from this system — the richest one per cent of people now own nearly half of all global wealth. Developed economies, accounting for 15% of the global population use about half of the global resources and contribute the most in terms of environmental degradation.
The climate crisis is capitalism transgressing planetary boundaries. The globalization of production has inflated the profit margins for TNCs based in the global north but also increased global warming pollution of industries, agriculture, transportation and services while intensifying the exploitation of working people. Transnational companies scour the world for resources such as oil, gas, metals, and minerals. Mining and energy companies, agri-plantations and other big business interests are grabbing vast tracts of lands throughout the world, most often displacing indigenous peoples from their territories. The end result is a more rapacious and global exploitation of nature and the deepening of inequalities in wealth and power.
We realize the extent of this injustice as neoliberalism further undermines the capacity of countries in the frontlines of climate change from responding to its devastating effects. Public and social infrastructures have been neglected or even dismantled as a result of privatization and austerity policies imposed on developing countries by international financial institutions. Millions are denied basic services such as health, water and sanitation — which have been transferred into the hands of profit-driven private sector. Deregulation, implemented to entice the private sector, has led to the deterioration of living conditions – both social and environmental. As climate change amplifies the number and severity of natural disasters, so does the suffering born by the poor as the root causes of vulnerability turn natural occurrences into chronic disasters and hamper swift recovery.
And like vultures feasting on the remains of the dead, big business in connivance with governments and authorities have even devised ways to skim off profits out of peoples’ tragedies. There are numerous instances of disaster areas being converted to “investment zones” for private-public partnerships between big foreign and local businesses, often dispossessing already displaced communities.
The poor people of climate-impacted communities have no option but to try and pick up the pieces of their lives after each disaster. Amidst their governments’ inefficiency, corruption, and utter disregard for their plight, they build solidarity to protect each other during calamities, share resources, and mitigate sufferings.
We demand an end to policies and programs that violate the integrity of nature, plunder the environment, and expose already vulnerable communities to further sufferings and miseries.
We reject false solutions to the climate crisis such as the corporate “Green Economy” and profit-oriented schemes like carbon trading and offsets, payments-for ecosystem-services, large-scale biofuel production, geo-engineering schemes, corporate-controlled renewable energy, the liberalization of environmental goods and services, and other measures being peddled by some global institutions, Northern governments and corporations. These measures and policies are but attempts to greenwash capitalism, commodify nature’s life-giving and life-sustaining capacities, and further concentrate resources in the hands of the elites and their big corporations.
The advanced capitalist countries have the historical responsibility to undertake more ambitious climate actions for having contributed most to global warming. These countries must commit to quantifiable goals that will keep 80% of known fossil fuel reserves to remain in the ground and ensure that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere return to 300 ppm. They must provide the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their cumulative pollution of the atmosphere as part of their ecological debt to peoples in the global south. They must also bear the costs of transferring technology to developing countries necessary to mitigate climate change.
These demands must be reflected in a binding agreement among governments currently negotiating a new climate agreement and a new development agenda to be concluded in 2015. A new international mechanism to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change in developing countries should be adopted to provide adequate and non-debt creating financing for loss and damage, including compensation funds, debt cancellation, universal social protection schemes, and community-led gender-responsive adaptation and mitigation programs. There must be full and effective participation of affected communities, including women, in all levels of decision making for addressing climate change.
But most importantly, we must collectively struggle against the current system which is the main cause of the looming environmental disaster. It is clear that the basic driving force of capitalism – that is to expand, grow and accumulate more profit for the few – is in contradiction with the reality of the earth’s finite and (shrinking) natural resources. We need to found an alternative sustainable system that must ensure the basic material and non-material needs of all peoples, while protecting the wellbeing and balance of the biosphere.
As we mark the anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan and honor the memories of our families, relatives and friends, we resolve to continue to build people’s resilience against climate change through solidarity. We vow to fight for climate justice, and build a new system based on the rational, collective, and democratic management and use of resources in the interest of the people and the well-being of the planet. ###
People Surge, Philippines | Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development (People’s Goals) | IBON International | People’s Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) | Land is Life | Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) | Kalikasan – People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines | Friends of the Earth International | Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) |  WALHI – Friends of the Earth, Indonesia | Idle No More | International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE) | Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN) | Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), India | Public Advocacy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India (PAIRVI), India | Tamil Nadu Womens Forum, India | Coastal Development Partnership (CDP), Bangladesh | People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) | Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN-AP) | Roots for Equity, Pakistan | Associación Raxcho’ch’ Oxlaju AJ (AROAJ), Guatemala | Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria | Ethiopian Consumer Society, Ethiopia | Third World Health Aid, Belgium | People’s Health Movement | Solidagro, Belgium | Society for Rural Education and Development, India | Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (AIPNEE) | Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), Malaysia | Kapaeeng Foundation, Bangladesh | Papora Indigenous Development Association, China/Taiwan | Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP), Nepal | Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), Philippines | Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRAM), Manipur | Sevalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka | Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC), Philippines | Centre for Sustainable Community Development (S-CODE), Vietnam | Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), Philippines | Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona (UBINIG), Bangladesh | International Womens Alliance (IWA) | Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines | Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) | Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Philippines | African Biodiversity Network | Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Philippines | SFA-Machakos, Kenya | Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP)| Mugal Indigenous Women Upliftment Institute MIWUI (Nepal) | Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF), Thailand | Solidaritas Perempuan (SP), Indonesia | National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka | Rural Women’s Association Alga, Kyrgyzstan | Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries/Medical Mission Sisters | Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria | UDYAMA, India | Bangladesh Krishok Federation | Presentation Sisters of Western Australia | Migrante International | Kilifi Distric Smallholders Farmers Association (KiDiSFA), Kenya | Migrante – Middle East | Rwanda Youth Alliance for Climate Actions (RYACA) | AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women’s Associations), Philippines | Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, PNG | Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and UN (CSCHR) | Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE) | Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer (FEIM) | International AIDS Womens Caucus (IAWC) | Women Won’t Wait End Gender Violence and HIV/AIDS NOW! | Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB) | Kenya Smallholder Farmers Association | Centre Tricontinental (CETRI) | William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador,, UK | Migrante Australia | Vindhyan Ecology and Natural History Foundation, India | PINAY Quebec, Canada | Dignity International | Pax Romana ICMICA | South Bronx Unite | Centre for Human Rights and Development. Mongolia | Society of Presentation Sisters of Australia and Papua New Guinea | Indigenous Women and Children Foundation, India | Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association (IDEA), Ireland | Intal, Belgium | National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). USA | Global Forest Coalition | International-Lawyers.Org (Suisse NGO) | Association for Promotion Sustainable Development, India | Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza, Portugal | Sociedade Sinhá Laurinha – SlauAmbiental, Brazil | Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Nigeria | Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice | Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Philippines | Endorois Welfare Council in Baringo County, Kenya  | Anglican Alliance| International Presentation Association | Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP), Guatemala | Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD), El Salvador | Nahual Foundation | Secretaría Nacional de Medio Ambiente del FMLN (SENAMA-FMLN), EL Salvador | League of Filipino Students – SFSU, U.S.A | Marielos  Orellana | Sr. Sheila Kelleher, PBVM |  Sr. Maura Fitzsimons, PBVM | Sr. Pat Davis, PBVM | Programa De Campesino a Campesino (PCAC  y  MAELA), El Salvador | Federación de Cooperativas para el Desarrollo (FECODESA R.L.) Nicaragua – Centroamérica | Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN) | Cordillera Youth Center (CYC), Philippines | Aboriginal Rights Coalition | Alternativa Salvadoreña de Cooperativas (ALSACOOP), El Salvador | Confederación Nacional de Cooperativas Agropecuaria de El Salvador (CONFENACOA), El Salvador | Confederación Salvadoreña de Cooperativas (CONSALCOOP), El Salvador | Movimiento Salvadoreño por la Defensa de la Vida ante el Cambio Climático (MOSDEVI), El Salvador | Asociación de Directivas para el Mejoramiento del las Comunidades del Norte de Usulután (DIMECONU) | Asociación Nacional Campesina (ANC) | Society of Presentation Sisters of Australia & Papua New Guinea | Fundación Picachos | Fundación FUNETAP | Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) | Botswana Khewedon San Council | Kabisaka Water Resource Users Association (Kabisaka WRUA) | Super Ethnic Minorities Rights , Kenya | Nubian Human Rights Forum | Peoples Advancement Centre (PAC), Nigeria | Okogun Odigie Safewomb International Foundation (OOSAIF) | | groundWork – Friends of the Earth South Africa | ULTeRA – Union Latinoamericana de Tecnic@s Rurales y Agrarios | Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, USA | Asociación Salvadoreña-Mesoamericana de Construcción de Paz (AMESCOPAZ), El Salvador | Friends of the Earth International | Asociación Civil Clectivo MAIZAL | FOE Mauritius | CEAG – Centro de Educación Ambiental de Guarulhos | SHISUK | Brigada Cimarrona Sebastian Lemba | Bolivian Platform on Climate Change | Netherlands Philippine Solidarity Movement (NFS) | PRESENTATION JUSTICE NETWORK IRELAND | Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of NL in Canada  | Mission Development and Peace groupe Roman Catholic Church Matthias-Laurentius Parish Alkmaar, Netherlands | Presentation Sisters, New Zealand | Vereniging Milieudefensie-Leiden (VMD-Leiden), Netherlands |  FREN Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands |  JP In der Maur, NFS, The Netherlands | Alexander von Humboldt Center | Red SUSWATCH | Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley – KMP |National Front for the People Health |
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