Skip Navigation
A newly planted mangrove sapling stands tall during the opening devotion of a tree-planting ceremony along the shore of Minanga River in the Philippines. Members of Greenhills United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church helped plant 320 mangrove trees to counteract climate change. Photo courtesy of Jastine G. Narvaez.

Photo courtesy of Jastine G. Narvaez

A newly planted mangrove sapling stands tall during the opening devotion of a tree-planting ceremony along the shore of Minanga River in the Philippines. Members of Greenhills United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church helped plant 320 mangrove trees to counteract climate change.

Filipinos plant 3,044 trees to aid Mother Earth

 

By Gladys Mangiduyos
Oct. 20, 2017 | UMNS

More than 500 United Methodists joined simultaneously on a recent day to plant 3,044 tree saplings and seedlings across Mindanao, the second largest Filipino island and home to more than 20 million people.

The Oct. 14 event, led by Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan and his district superintendents and clergy, involved plantings in multiple sites across the Davao Episcopal Area with the help of a number of participating conferences, districts and local churches.

"Praise God for the success of our first DEA-wide tree-planting activity. It is our clear and focused support to promote ecological balance and protect Mother Earth. The global warming/climate change phenomenon has worsened,” said Juan.

Lay people and youth from Greenhills United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church, led by the Rev. Jonathan  R. Ulanday, plant saplings during a DEA-wide tree planting across the Davao area of the Philippines on Oct. 14. A number of conferences, districts and local churches participated, led Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan. Photo by Apple Joy B. Lawag.

Lay people and youth from Greenhills United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church, led by the Rev. Jonathan R. Ulanday, plant saplings during a tree planting across the Davao area of the Philippines on Oct. 14. A number of conferences, districts and local churches participated, led Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan. Photo by Apple Joy B. Lawag.

 

The bishop — who was joined by clergy and lay members in Hope Valley United Methodist Church, Tumanding, Arakan, Cotabato — said he has been consistently leading tree planting and caring activities the last five years (four of those years in the Manila area).

“It is my vision that every worker and lay leader of Davao area will embrace this program and make it his or her habit and commitment,” Juan said, setting a goal of 400,000 to be planted and cared for in the next four years.

"I believe that the United Methodist Church can make an impact to mitigate climate change,” he said. "We need to be good stewards of God's creation,” he said.

The Rev. Janeth Rufino (kneeling, fourth from left) pauses for a group photo before heading to a farm to plant fruit-bearing trees. More than 500 clergy and laity members from across the Davao area of the Philippines joined the endeavor. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Janeth Rufino.

The Rev. Janeth Rufino (kneeling, fourth from left) pauses for a group photo before heading to a farm to plant fruit-bearing trees. More than 500 clergy and laity members from across the Davao area of the Philippines joined the endeavor. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Janeth Rufino.

 

A 2015 Time magazine story on the Paris climate accord talks called the island nation “ground zero for climate disaster” and went on to note that Philippines is “most vulnerable to the weather effects of climate change” because it is in a region of harsh weather patterns.

The Rev. Abelardo N. Guerrero, the director of Connectional Ministries in Mindanao, said, "Our DEA-wide tree planting is the manifestation of our church to care and protect God's creation."

It is part of the episcopal direction, he explained, the 7K program where one K stands for "Kalikasan" (Nature) as a way to uphold climate justice. 

"Some planted hardwood varieties of trees, some are coconut, others planted fruit trees that will also enhance the earning capacities of the local churches of Davao area.” 

Philippines typhoons — the church responds

United Methodist News Service and other agencies of the church have reported extensively on the frequent storms that batter Philippines and how to help. To read more stories from the most recent years, click here

Dan T. Ela, executive assistant to Juan, said participating conferences included the entire Davao area — East Mindanao Philippines, Mindanao Philippines, Northwest Mindanao Philippines, Visayas Philippines and Bicol Philippines areas.

"This is the urgent need of our Mother Earth," said the Rev. Janeth L. Rufino, the district superintendent of the Northeast District, East Mindanao Philippines. About 40 participated there, planting 200 seedlings.

"Since June 2017, this is our fifth (time) to have tree-planting activity.  In our district, we persist to do this to respond to that urgent need,” Rufino said.

Retired Bishop Rev. Leo A Soriano joined the districts of Misamis, Oriental and Lanao del Norte.

"I believe that planting trees is one way of restoring what is lost in God's creation. It also helps in reversing the trend of climate change. I also believe that destroying God's creation is a sin,” Soriano said.

Seventy people — church members and seminarians from the Bishop Han Theological Seminary — also participated in the planting.

A participant in a tree-planting project in the Davao area of the Philippines kneels to settle a sapling in the soil. Church members and leaders joined in the tree-planting along the Pulangi River. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Rogemer Sison.

A participant in a tree-planting project in the Davao area of the Philippines kneels to settle a sapling in the soil. Church members and leaders joined in the tree-planting along the Pulangi River. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Rogemer Sison.

 

"We joined because we clearly understood that the created nature cries out for responsible stewardship of humanity," said Pastor Rogemer Sison, a seminarian.

"We have seen the manifestation of its voiceless agony. The storms, floods, earthquakes, air and water pollutions are the interests that we are reaping from the abuse that humanity have inflicted to the creation for many generations. We are hopeful that our simple gesture of planting trees can inspire people to do the same,” Sison said.

The Rev. Recto Baguio, a district superintendent from Northwest Mindanao who joined the seminarians, said, "If you plant trees, you save life, generation to generation. We had 150 seedlings planted and each local church planted a minimum of 10 fruit trees in its respective area."

Two local churches from General Santos City — Central United Methodist Church and Greenhills United Methodist Church —  planted 320 mangrove saplings in Minanga, Buayan, General Santos City.   They determined the depth of water at low tide and they went to the shore and trekked the mud and sharp rocks to plant the saplings.

Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (center in lavender  shirt) helps plant a sapling with members of Hope Valley United Methodist Church during a DEA-wide tree planting event. Photo courtesy Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan.

Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (center in lavender shirt) helps plant a sapling with members of Hope Valley United Methodist Church during a DEA-wide tree planting event. Photo courtesy Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan.

 

The Rev. Jonathan R. Ulanday, who led the activity in General Santos City and serves as a National in Mission in the church’s Church Labor Solidarity and Advocacy Ministry, talked about the climate breakdown in different parts of the globe today. 

"There seems to be a need to reconstruct our theology of redemption and evangelism. We delimit our perception of redemption into the realm of human soul, neglecting the biblical notion that what needs to be saved from evil and wickedness is the whole of God’s creation,” he said.

Ulanday issued a challenge:

"The United Methodist Church needs to awaken itself and rebuke the malevolent scheme of capitalism and neo-liberalism which is wrecking the splendor of God’s creation."

Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470or newsdesk@umcom.orgTo get more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests