As part of the advocacy on social transformation among the students, support staff, alumni, faculty members, and University partner communities, institutions, and Dominican networks, the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office (UST SIMBAHAYAN) conducted its 2020 Community Service Day on August 31, 2020, continuing the bi-annual event rooted in the promotion of environmental sustainability and action as a proactive response to the call of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si.

This year, the Community Service Day entitled “Araw ng Paglilingkod sa Panahon ng Paglikha 2020” with the theme “Hubileo Para sa Daigdig: Pagtalab at Pagtugon sa Pagpapanumbalik ng Sangnilikha” was held in strong collaboration with the AlerTomas Cluster headed by the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Faculty of Engineering, College of Science, College of Architecture, Graduate School, and National Service Training Program (NSTP CWTS/LTS), the Dominican Family for Justice, Peace, and Care for Creation – Philippines (DFJPPC), and the Fellowship for the Care of Creation Association, Inc. (FCCAI).

With limitations on conducting onsite community development and advocacy activities in place as part of safety measures against Covid-19, the UST SIMBAHAYAN pursued the event through a webinar.

The first speaker was ST Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs, Rev. Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, O.P., who spoke on the topic on Laudato Si: Mula sa Pananaw ng Simbahan at Pananampalataya. His talk highlighted that Pope Francis’ second encyclical letter is an encyclical about love and concern for the poor; thus, there is a need for ecological conversion toward Christian Normal.

The second speaker was Bro. Jaazeal “Tagoy” Jakosalem, OAR, with the topic on Laudato Si: Mula sa Perspektibong Pastoral na Pakikisangkot. His presentation delved on the seven (7) Laudato Si Goals: 1) Response to the Cry of the Earth, 2) Response to the Cry of the Poor, 3) Ecological Economics, 4) Adoption of Simple Lifestyles, 5) Ecological Education, 6) Ecological Spirituality, and 7) Community Engagement & Participatory Action as well as suggested responses to these challenges.

Aside from the talk rendered by Fr. Pablo Tiong, OP and Bro. Jaazeal “Tagoy” Jakosalem, OAR, a significant portion of the event was the Pledge of Commitment for the Care of Our Common Home led by the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, Rev. Fr. Napoleon B. Sipalay, Jr. O.P., Fr. Tiong, the Justice, Peace, and Care for Creation Promoter of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, Rev. Fr. Victor C. Calvo, O.P., Chairperson of the
Board of Trustees of the Fellowship for the Care of Creation Association, Inc., Rev. Fr. Angelito Cortez, OFM, UST SIMBAHAYAN Director Froilan A. Alipao, MCD, UST Central Student Council President, Mr. Robert Dominic Gonzales, RPh, and the Samahang Kamanlalakbay President Mrs. Merlita B. De Guzman.

The webinar was formally opened by an opening ritual led by Ms. Mylene Saluta of FCCAI. UST SIMBAHAYAN Director Froilan Alipao, MCD, and the Justice, Peace, and Care for Creation Promoter of the Dominican Philippine Province, Inc., Rev. Fr. Victor C. Calvo, O.P. delivered the welcome remarks, stressing the importance of individual, collective, and institutional efforts as praxis in the care for our common home as humans and the environment are interdependent with each other.

After the open forum, BA Literature students Krelian Adam Lim and Niña Angelica Rodriguez performed a poetry reading about Laudato Si, which was followed by the synthesis of AlerTomas cluster Head, Asst. Prof. Ronald M. Castillo, M.A., and the closing remarks delivered by UST SIMBAHAYAN Training and Community Engagement Officer & University-wide Student Organizations’ Coordinator, Asst. Prof. Evalyn B. Abiog, Ph.D.

The event highlighted the structural change in the product consumption and the ability of every person to provide protection towards the environment. Furthermore, environmental degradation does not stem from marginalized communities or user consumption, but from the capitalist system targeting these potential markets.

An estimate of 220 participated in the webinar from the different UST colleges/faculties/institutes, departments, and administrative offices such as the Faculty of Arts and Letters, College of Nursing, Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, College of Science, Faculty of Engineering, College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Commerce and Business Administration, Senior High School, Junior High School, NSTP, Research Center for Natural and Applied Sciences, Center for Campus Ministry, Research Center on Social Sciences and Education, UST Miguel de Benavides Library, Counseling and Career Center, Counseling and Career Center, Academic Programs Quality Assurance Office as well as, partner communities, institutions, and networks such as the Juan Luna Elementary School, FCCAI, KKK (Kapatiran sa Kawangga para sa Komunidad), Smokey Mountain – KNAI, Brgy. Sibulan (Nagcarlan), Brgy. Kanluran Kabubuhayan (Nagcarlan), Samahang Kamanlalakbay – Lambakin, Ministry of Urban Poor – Diocese of Caloocan, Samahang Kamanlalakbay Indigenous Peoples’ cluster and Kakhawan-Sitio Malasa, Samahang Kamanlalakbay-North Triangle Alliance (Rodriguez), Samahang Kamanlalakbay-Kasiglahan Village (Rodriguez), Samahang Kamanlalakbay-Ariendo, Pamarawan Island Community Work, YFL and Kalinga Center, DFJPCC-Phils, San Lorenzo Ruiz SSDM, and Emergency Response Integration Center (ERIC). There were also representatives of different religious congregations and university/school members of Laudato Si Philippines who participated. The creative publicity material was developed by Mrs. Charmaine Joie Buena-Castillo, RPh, a Facilitator of National Service Training Program (NSTP).

The webinar also served as the launching of the activities for the Season of Creation, which happens on September 1, 2020 (Tuesday) until October 11, 2020 (Indigenous People’s Sunday).

The Season of Creation was introduced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Council in 2003 to celebrate the Creation Day and Creation Time to affirm the CBCP’s first Pastoral Letter on Ecology and Environment, “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land.” This was echoed again in the July 2019 Pastoral Letter, “An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion, Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency.”

According to the Global Catholic Climate Movement – Pilipinas, a global, grass-roots movement of Catholics committed to living out the message of Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home, “This is a time to allow our common home to rest from our throw-away culture, our addiction to consumption, to unlimited economic growth and to the dirty and deadly fossil fuels. This is a time to create, develop and nurture a new mindset, a paradigm shift anchored in the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of everything.”