Francis is about to issue an encyclical on climate change.
The 200-page papal letter to Catholic bishops worldwide warns of "unprecedented
destruction of the ecosystem" by the end of this century unless drastic changes
are made to avert it. This encyclical could not have come any sooner for the
The country lies on the path of
numerous tropical storms each year. And as evidenced by super storms Haiyan
(Yolanda) in 2013 and Hagupit (Ruby) in 2014, these typhoons have become more
powerful and more frequent over the last decade alone.
the dramatics of Filipino delegate Naderev Saño at the COP18 climate talks in
Doha, tearfully pleading that industrialized countries do more to save the
environment, his country is actually doing distressingly little to get its
environmental house in order.
Drive around Metro Manila and
you quickly realize what a dirty, unsanitary place it has become. The
Spanish-built esteros (estuaries) that are a thing of beauty in other
countries, are a reeking, nauseating eyesore in the Philippines. While many
countries have banned the extremely high polluting, noisy two-stroke gasoline
engine, it is alive and well (thriving in fact) in cities and towns all over the
country, as it is the engine of choice for the ubiquitous Philippine tricycle.
Not to be outdone, local buses
and jeepneys run on older discarded diesel engines from other parts of Asia.
Japan for instance has been doing brisk business selling their dirty,
no-longer-legal, diesel engines to Filipinos who mount them on jeepneys, trucks,
and buses all across the archipelago.
Even supposedly respectable
business leaders make
it a point to get into the pollution business. Companies
regularly dump their waste
into rivers, streams, and fragile coastlines. Once lush forests have now
been almost completely denuded by irresponsible landowners as well as illegal
loggers. And the plants and animals that for millions of years survived in those
habitats are silently vanishing.
The bottom line is that the
typical Filipino (sad to say) whether dirt poor or filthy rich, has little to no respect for
the environment. He or she will trash their surroundings whenever it become more
expedient to do so.
The only saving grace of this
predominantly Catholic country is the fact that it is Catholic. And being
devout Catholics maybe Filipinos will take the pope's encyclical to heart and
start to change their destructive ways. The Philippines was once a
lush and beautiful country … it no longer is. And unless Filipinos, along with the
rest of the world, clean up their act—literally, the country will continue to
Maybe this activist pontiff
through his encyclical will be able to steer Filipinos away from the path of
environmental self-destruction they appear headed for. Let’s hope and pray he