By JOAN GARCIA
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has always been upfront about their stand with regards the issues that plague the marginalized in the country. In living true to their historical roots, the IFI remains to be involved in seeking ways that can contribute to the betterment of not just their members but of the people in general.
In the on-going youth week celebrations of the youth of IFI, the said principle and doctrine of the Church can be seen.
Recognizing the growing problem with regards to environmental protection, the youth week celebration focuses on eco-justice, as Snap Mabanta, Diocesan Youth President of La Union, Ilocos Sur and Abra (Luisa) puts it.
Vanguards of God’s creation
According to Mabanta, she and the other youth officers of the IFI decided to focus on the theme of eco-justice for the youth’s program for this year as they have seen how drastic the situation of the environment is.
With the theme “youth of the IFI as vanguards of God’s creation,” the activity aims to inculcate in the participants the advocacy of environmental protection especially against the destructive and large-scale mining in the country.
Finela Mejia, the invited resource speaker from Save the Abra River Movement (STARM) and Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder (Defend Ilocos), said the youth’s participation in the fight against mining is crucial.
“We are up against big mining companies and politicians that have vested interest in the mining in our provinces, the inclusion of the youth of one of the biggest Churches in the region is a welcome addition. The youth of the Diocese of LUISA will particularly play a big role as these three provinces have been subject to the ill effects of mining for a long time now,” Mejia said.
Due to the FILMAG’s operation of magnetite mining during the 1970s, coastal communities in La Union and Ilocos Sur have been subject to flash floods and decrease of their lands until today.
In Abra, the open-pit mining left the mountains full of holes and the communities living there on the verge of being victims of soil erosion and landslides.
Meanwhile, the on-going operations of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) at Benguet, Cordillera have also plagued residents of both Ilocos Sur and Abra as the Abra river traverses the mentioned provinces. The polluted water due to the acid mine drainage in the upstream area of Benguet reaches the downstream Ilocos Sur.
As part of the activity, the participants were tasked to create artworks on their interpretation regarding the effects of mining.
A particular artwork showed the natural resources that are abundant in their land and the people gathered around to depict how their unity can protect the environment. Crocodiles holding guns and money are also shown to symbolize the mining companies willing to use their power just so they can access the minerals.
One of the poems written summarizes how the youth sees themselves as environmental vanguards, “Problems will abound if selfish desires will prevail/ Think of our brothers and sisters/ For the betterment of all/ Let us all work together/ In our unity, we can prevail.”