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Sisters in Philippines Stand in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples Losing their Land

March 21, 2018, Pidpid, Porac, Pampanga, the Philippines – Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, stood in solidarity recently with indigenous peoples whose land has been taken from them for development.

The Sisters in the Remedies Mission Chapter, along with local Benedictine Sisters “are in the front line of support” for the united indigenous peoples, who have barricaded with rocks the road where trucks haul gravel and sand for development projects on the tribe’s ancestral land, said Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress.

Since January 30, the Aetas have established themselves in the barricaded area, putting up temporary grass huts to shield themselves from the heat, Sister Zenaida said. They have also set up an ongoing school at the barricade, indicating their intention to stay in the barricaded area as long as possible.

The indigenous Aeta Mag-indi and Aeta Mag-antsi tribes established their home in 1960 in the barrio (town) Camachilies. They were displaced in June 1991 with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and have since resettled in the nearby Pidpid area. “They no longer want to be thrown out by another disaster, which is now man-made and which is much more disastrous than the eruption of Mount Pinatubo,” Sister Zenaida said.  

She noted that in 2006 the Aetas received a Certificate of Ancestral Domain title from the government of the Philippines, giving them title to 18,659.73 hectares (72.046 square miles) of land. But in 2009, because of development projects, the land was taken from them by local and foreign corporations that have established quarry operations there. This work has destroyed the natural habitat, leaving the Aeta’s water source polluted.

“A huge portion of this ancestral domain is being destroyed by these operators through quarrying and water pollution,” Sister Zenaida said. “While [these corporations] get millions in profits, the indigenous peoples are left with nothing except the destroyed natural environment.” 

So far, she added, foreign and two Filipino-owned quarry operations have temporarily stopped their work, and the military have not been involved. “We pray that the quarry operations will be stopped completely.”

Watch a video from the barricaded area.


Adrian Dominican Sisters Raise Funds to Expand Catholic School in Philippines

January 10, 2017, Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines – The Adrian Dominican Sisters are starting the new year with an eye to the future - specifically, to the future of more than 200 students and their future classmates at Dominican School of Angeles City. 

The school, located in the impoverished Barangay (village) of Mining, Angeles City, opened six years ago with three kindergarten students. Today, the need and desire for a Catholic school in the area is evident as the enrollment now stands at 238 students in grades kindergarten through 10. 

With its rapidly growing enrollment and the need to add 11th and 12th grades, an additional three-story building is being constructed to house six more classrooms and spaces large enough for school Masses and physical education. 

The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million.

Situated near the Clark Freeport Zone – the area surrounding the former U.S. Clark Airforce Base – the school was opened by the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies, based in San Fernando, Pampanga, shortly before they merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in November 2011. The area has been dubbed as the “entertainment capital” of the Philippines, and its children are at risk of becoming involved in the sex trade or worse, human trafficking.

“The school aims not only to provide the children with an excellent, affordable, faith-filled education, but also to instill in them the social justice values of the Catholic Church,” explained Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter. With their education at Dominican School of Angeles City, the students can become “bearers of a faith tradition that, as Pope Francis reminds us, upholds the dignity of every person, recognizes our integral connectedness to the whole Earth community, and seeks the common good for all God’s people.”

Sister Arsenia Marie Puno, OP, guidance counselor at the school, spoke with wonder at the ability of the children’s parents to pay the minimal tuition that the school charges. The children come from low-income families, with parents who hold down humble jobs: carpenters, welders, marketplace vendors, and public transportation drivers. In addition, there is a lack of resources such as clean water.

“They are happy families in the midst of a difficult situation,” Sister Arsenia said. “It is amazing how, with their deep faith in God, they are able to send their children to school with so many challenges in life.”

These challenges make the Dominican School of Angeles City even more vital for the future of the children and their community. Along with academic training, high school students receive vocational training in areas such as eco-farming, care-giving to the elderly and to children, and computer technology. 

The farmland in front of the school provides jobs for local farmers and produce for school families.

Part of the school’s land has also been dedicated as an ecologically sustainable farm. Local farmers are hired to work the land, and school parents can buy the produce at a reduced price. In addition, a windmill provides energy to pump water from a well to irrigate the farm and to power a filtration system so water can be bottled and sold to community members.

“We have great hopes for the Dominican School of Angeles City and the impact it can have in helping the people of Mining to build a resilient and sustainable community for generations to come,” Sister Zenaida said. 

In spite of their strong faith in God, their dedication, and their resiliency, the families of the Dominican School of Angeles City still need help from their neighbors in the United States. “We are with high hope that you are able to lend us your helping hands,” said Sister Arsenia. “Please help us build a school where more students will be able to attain their dream of a Catholic education in the K-12 program. Please help us with your financial gifts from God for this sacred endeavor.” 

To make a donation, click here or contact the Adrian Dominican Sisters Office of Development at 517-266-3480 or apalmer@adriandominicans.org.

 


 

 

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