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Philippines

Christians and Muslims unite to clean Philippine shores

Interfaith group on Palawan island marks Season of Creation by sending message to look after nature

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Christians and Muslims unite to clean Philippine shores

A nun picks up garbage on a Palawan beach during an interfaith clean-up drive to mark the Season of Creation on Sept. 3. (Photo supplied)

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Catholics and Muslims came together on Sept. 3 to mark this year’s Season of Creation by picking up garbage and plastic along the coast of a local community on the Philippine island of Palawan .

The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa spearheaded the clean-up in Bancao-Bancao in Puerto Princesa City.

Palawan is known as one of the Philippines’ most popular tourist destinations due to its rich wildlife and sandy beaches.

In 2017, Palawan was named the most beautiful island in the world by renowned international travel magazine Travel+Leisure, which cited its rich flora and fauna. The island is also famous for its underground river and diving sites.

The clean-up drive was in response to the newly launched Season of Creation, an ecumenical effort to respond to Pope Francis’ call to save the earth from environmental degradation.

“This interfaith project is our little way to respond to Pope Francis’ call to care for the earth, our common home,” Palawan Bishop Socrates Mesiona said in a statement.

“Common home means all peoples, regardless of religion or religious affiliation, the earth is the home of all mankind. So, all of us must take care of the earth.” 

Bishop Mesonia also said the project was intended to send a message to all Filipinos, Catholic and non-Catholic, to denounce the “throwaway culture” of today’s society.

“We easily throw away things because we buy too much. We consume too much. There is a strong link between consumerism and garbage. We may have different religions. We may have different beliefs. But we live in the same world. Hopefully, we will all imbibe the spirituality of protecting the environment,” the bishop said.

Muslim leader Hadji Arturo Suizo said Islam pays great attention to the cause of protecting the environment.

“Allah created humans to be guardians of his creation.  Nature does not belong to us. It is just entrusted to us by Allah for safe-keeping,” he said.

“The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you [Muslims] his guardian over it. This is according to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.” 

Hadji also thanked the apostolic vicariate for the opportunity for Muslims and Christians to work together for the environment.

“I thank Bishop Mesonia for this opportunity. All we hear in the news is conflict between Islam and Christianity. We should change that. Here in Palawan, Christians and Muslims unite for the environment. Here, we show the country and the world that Christians and Muslims live in harmonious peace,” he said.

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