Following the massive flooding that devastated parts of Cagayan Valley, the dioceses in the area banded together to plant more than a million trees in 500 days.
Dubbed as “Missio 500”, the ecology initiative aims to plant 500 trees per day in the Tuguegarao archdiocese, and each in its suffragans: Ilagan, Bayombong, Tabuk and Batanes.
The target is to plant at least 1.25 million trees by early next year.
The program was launched on Thursday before the ceremony for the imposition of the sacred pallium on Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao.
Baccay said the launching of the initiative was timed for the occasion “as a symbol of our solidarity, working together, and convergence”.
The project also aims to celebrate this year’s 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
Since the initiative involves local governments, civil society organizations and non-government organizations, the number of trees to be planted could exceed the target.
Bishop Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong said last November’s flooding that affected thousands of families shows “the urgency to protect our common home”.
“The missio 500 is a testament to our commitment to teach, to mold, and to remind our faithful that we are the stewards of God’s creation,” he said.
Bishop Danilo Ulep of Batanes, for his part, also expressed his prelature’s commitment to the initiative.
“May this project intensify and strengthen our advocacy to protect God’s creation and heal the wounds of mother earth for sustainable development of our communities,” he said.
Also launched was the Metropolitan Ecology Desk and the Eco-convergence Luzon Hub, in partnership with Caritas Philippines.
Eco-convergence is a partnership of church and civil society groups to promote the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si.
The two other regional hubs are the Diocese of San Carlos for the Visayas and the Diocese of Marbel for Mindanao.