SORSOGON City, Oct. 20, 2013—The government and its geothermal project contractor Summa Kumagai Inc. (SKI) betray the spirit of Kasanggayahan Festival for pushing their geothermal prospect in the province despite strong opposition, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said.
In a statement on Saturday following a Mass in Magallanes town, Bastes said the government and SKI’s geothermal dream threatens to destroy the natural resources of the province.
The term Kasanggayahan means prosperity, he said. The gifts of nature like Bulusan Volcano, Bulusan Lake, cold and hot springs in the towns of Bulusan and Irosin, marine resources, and agricultural riches are in danger of being annihilated if the project pushes through.
“Since we have a good faith, we have the responsibility to carry on in protecting nature,” Bastes said. “With the geothermal plant, they will destroy Bulusan Lake. They will destroy Sorsogon.”
Bastes called on the people of Sorsogon to support the Catholic Church in its crusade to preserve the local environment and foil any attempt to bring it down to destruction.
“Mining in Matnog was stopped by the church’s effort,” he said. “And now we have to do something with the geothermal exploration in Bulusan. We must preserve the environment.”
The armed conflict between the government forces and guerillas of the New People’s Army (NPA), which continues to claim lives for several decades now, also betrays the meaning of Kasanggayahan, Bastes said.
The people also have to keep their faith in order to continue receiving grace, he said. The Sorsoganon should love his fellow Sorsoganon. He should be kind to other people.
Killing each other profanes the spirit of Kasanggayahan, the bishop said. The four-decade-old armed conflict should be brought to an end to avoid more bloodshed.
Kasanggayahan Festival was reveled from October 17 to 23 in observance of the establishment of the province.
The mass on October 17 in Sorsogon City was a reenactment of the first mass in Luzon in sitio Gibalon, Magallanes in 1569 by an Augustinian priest who accompanied Captain Luis Enrique De Guzman and his soldiers to look for food in other islands, Bastes said.
“Because of the hospitality, Fr. Alonzo Jimenez was so happy and celebrated a mass,” he said. “That was the first mass in the island of Luzon. It was in thanksgiving to the natives who welcomed them with an open heart.”
The natives’ acceptance and hospitality to the first evangelizers who came to the Philippines, is perhaps the reason why the people of Sorsogon are continuously blessed, according to Bastes. (Oliver Samson)