Monday, September 14, 2009

Biking for the Environment: Joining the Protest Against Coal Fired Power Plant Project in Maasim

Jump off from the Davao Redemptorist Monastery


with biking priests of Marbel diocese: Frs. Cristito Holoro, Rodrigo Gigoni & Giovanni Oncog before jump off Gensan-Maasim

bikers entering Maasim followed by a caravan from various parishes and POs

bikers with the parishioners of Maasim opposing the Coal Fired Power Plant project

members of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (or GKK) joining the protest march

delegation from various parishes of Marble diocese

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez at the interfaith rally, with Muslim leaders, pastors, lumad leaders and the army commander, Colonel de Leon.

Yesterday morning at 8:15, after celebrating the 6 am mass, I and 5 others biked from Davao to General Santos City. A Redemptorist seminarian (Clint Jan) biked part of the way while 2 other seminarians (Ryan and Natz) were on the support vehicle. Eugene, the Singaporean Redemptorist seminarian escorted us on the motorbike. This was the first leg of the "Bike for the Environment" to support of the protest against the Maasim Coal-Fired Power Plant Project led by the diocese of Marbel and in collaboration with other NGOs, People's Organization and other Christian and Muslim groups. It took us over nine hours to bike the 148 km distance. We were met by Fr. Giovannie Oncog and proceeded to the parish of Our Lady of Good Voyage for dinner. We slept at the Passionist retreat house.
Early this morning at 6:30 we continued the second leg of the journey - Gensan to Maasim. Three priests joined us (Frs. Giovannie, Cristito and Rodrigo). A protestant pastor (Ricky) was also part of the group. Seven other members of the GS MORBA (General Santos Matutum Offroad Bikers Association) joined us. They could only muster this number since it is a working day. It took us over two hours to bike the 45 km distance. We stopped 3km before the town and waited for a while for the convoy of vehicles from various parishes before we proceeded to the parish church at the head of the caravan. We were welcomed by the parish priest and the members of the Redemptorist Mission Team who have been helping in stregthening the Basic Ecclesial Communites in the parish.
I concelebrated at the fiesta mass presided by Bishop Gutierrez together with over 20 priests of the diocese. After the mass the people marched to the town plaza for the interfaith rally agains the coal fired power plant project. There were so many people - from the 48 Basic Ecclesial Communities of the parish and delegations from other parishes of the Marbel diocese, from other Christian denominations, Muslim groups, lumad groups, etc. I was amazed to see parents bringing their children, carrying placards and streamers. There were four speakers during the rally: a Lumad leader, a Muslim ustadz, an Aglipayan priest and Bishop Gutierrez. The rally ended with a cultural presentation of the parish youth. Then this was followed by a festive meal. What an extraordinary fiesta celebration! This is the first time that the people in the parish with the suppor of the diocese and other groups have come out in full force to oppose the coal power plant project. The mayor and his council who supports the project must be nervous now.
After lunch, we placed our bikes on our support vehicle and drove back to Davao. We reached the monastery at past seven.

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