Kim ‘s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Hear the Cry of the Poor and of the Earth
In his response-letter to the President of the Concerned Parents, Teachers, Alumni and Communities (COPTAC) Dr. Anselmo Mercado, no less than the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Rev. Father Arturo Sosa, S.J., stated that, “the points you presented have been considered and I thank you for sharing them as I appreciate how much you care for the University and the mission of education. Much discussion and deliberation has already been done on this subject, and APPROVAL BY THE VATICAN HAS ALREADY BEEN RECEIVED. This decision is final.”
The letter of the most reverend Superior General of the Society of Jesus is in response to the strong opposition of COPTAC on the sale of the University campus, the 6.3 hectares of the downtown main campus plus the 14 hectares of the developed Manresa campus, to the billionaire CLI as such transaction glaringly sacrifices its living cultural heritage to an image of commercialism.
To us alumni of Xavier and members of COPTAC, we were so aghast by the Superior General’s response-letter. We are asking no end -WHY? WHY? WHY? Is the recent study of Oxfam correct when it concluded that, “high veneration to the profit-motive has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups.” Because humanity is now buried in unbridled consumerism and materialism, is it true that there is so much denigration of spirituality which is contrary to what the Society of Jesus has done all these years in catapulting spirituality to greater heights by building knowledge societies. The University has brought to the fore the truism of what King Solomon declared in Ecclesiastes that, “fame, wealth and power are meaningless, utterly meaningless.” What is important is how one has lived in serving the least of his brethren, in empowering the poor and the oppressed – all for the greater glory of God, which the University has trailblazed all these years, not only in the Philippines but in South East Asia.
For the University to be transformed into the image of commercialism runs counter to its very essence. Never would that be in the mind of the late Bishop James Hayes, S.J., D.D. when he donated 3.5 hectares of land to Society of Jesus in 1939 for the establishment of Ateneo de Cagayan which was the first Ateneo in the country to become a university to nurture the students to be “men and women for others.” That too was never in the mindset of the founder of Xavier University College of Agriculture and of SEARSOLIN, the late Fr. William Masterson, S.J. whose amazing fund-sourcing ability had institutionalized the empowerment path to draw those in the margins into the mainstream of development. Don’t you know that Fr. Masterson had generously donated his very inheritance to build the expansion of the University? It Is so painful to note that in the process of commercializing the University, even his grave and all of the colleague-priests buried in the cemetery in Manresa have been unceremoniously desecrated.
Has the Vatican not been informed that such transaction will give way to the destruction of the mini-forest in Manresa? An earlier study made by visiting Jesuit scholastic from Malaysia indicated 40 species of birds identified in the Manresa area which will become extinct when the mini-forest will be gone. Worse, the community of Barangay Balulang situated at the foot of Manresa ridge has expressed their objection to the proposed development in Manresa because of the uncontrolled flooding already experienced by them during heavy rains.
The image of commercializing has reinforced the truism that indeed contemporaneous development paradigm has prioritized profit over Mother Earth and the people. Thousands of concerned scientists and environmentalists world- wide have categorically warned that “humanity is now in the precipice of its 6 th extinction that is man-made. And yet, there continues to be climate-change deniers, many are politicians and people in leadership positions. I would like to believe that XU is on the side of Mother Earth, but with the plan of XU and Cebu Landmasters for Manresa, I am beginning to have doubts as to where XU stands.
The agricultural spaces in Manresa contribute to ecological conservation needed by the city for open and wooded areas. With some 200,000 hectares denuded in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro & Bukidnon, one-inch of rainfall from there means one-meter high water upon reaching the 200 hectare-urban center. Ten-inch rainfall means 10 meter-high flood. Somehow the mini-forest in Manresa serves as a “shield.” Very glaringly, thousands will die particularly in Balulang when another Sendong hits the city. Thus, the imperative need to protect the mini- forest in Manresa.
Millions of species in our planet are becoming extinct, and the plans for Manresa would contribute to this extinction and to the destruction of the species’ habitat. Amidst the morale collapse and religious apathy, let us remember that sometime in 2015, Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter which was backed by all the major world faiths -referred to climate change as “a sin against God.” Inspired by that, let us now declare and serve notice to one and all that the sale of the University to CLI will not be in consonance to Pope Francis’ appeal in LauDaTuSi to hear the cry of the poor and of the earth!
On April 22 (Earth Day), COPTAC will stand=up for Mother Earth as thousands of us alumni will celebrate Her Day through mass actions. With a firm collective intent, we will raise the following observations, among others, which hopefully can be responded to by those concerned institutions/officials:
- The City Ordinance reclassifying the Manresa as Mix Use and high density residential area is defective and did not follow proper procedure.
- The Resolution of Barangay Balulang endorsing the project was only signed by the Barangay Secretary and Barangay Chairman. Five barangay kagawads manifested that there was no session called for the purpose and they did not sign said barangay resolution.
- Cebu Landmasters Inc. In its Facebook page has already advertised the XU Masterson Campus and Manresa Town which constitutes pre-selling and prohibited before it is given License to Sell by DHSUD.
All these years, Xavier University has done so much in our world that is under strain as poverty continues to plague communities and families. Climate change threatens our very own survival; conflicts are raging and inequalities are deepening. These crises will only worsen unless we unfetter humanity from unbridled commercialism through growth-at-all-cost development strategy, materialism and consumerism. Let us therefore protect the University’s legacy on cultural heritage through building knowledge society not on commercialism. PLEASE VATICAN RECONSIDER COPTAC’S APPEAL.