Amazonia, Gathering the Seeds and Scattering the Fruit, Philippines.
Biodiversity and Culture by Sr. Sofia Natama.
Over these past three weeks of the Synod, Columban Sisters throughout the world have been gathering the seeds from the Amazon Synod, by keeping their finger on the pulse of all the happenings there and now look to the future with a plan of action, by scattering the fruits of their discoveries.
Philippines: In Midsalip, Philippines Sr. Kathleen Melia, had a Celebration day on Biodiversity and Culture which was attended by our Congregational Leader, Sr. Susanna Choi. The solemnity of the celebration on Biodiversity and Culture held in Midsalip on October 21st 2019 started with a soul filled searching silence in the packed conference room where 200 guests from the surrounding villages were expected. The sound of a gong echoed a sense of the sacredness and interconnectedness of all life forms on Planet Earth and this was followed by a reading from a treasured poem which carried great wisdom and a few verses of it were interpreted with this simplest translation:
“ … If you see a fraction of clean and clear flowing water in the river, see, you already have seen the beginning and the end of the river.”
This was a special celebration as Sister Kathleen felt that the whole Congregation was gathered around because of the presence of Sisters Susanna, Minerva and Sofia and supported by Sr. Cecilia who was unable to attend but arranged the transportation from Ozamiz to Midsalip for the Sisters. Fr. Sean Martin also joined the Sisters and Subanan people. It was a sacred day, a meaningful and a hopeful moment for all.
Sister Kathleen, staff and teachers identify more than 40 variety of rice grains and other forest seeds, few seedlings of endangered forest trees, root crops from the forest and surrounding villages.
The occasion was graced by the Bishop of Pagadian Diocese who showed great appreciation of the presence of the Columban Sisters working with Indigenous People and Interfaith Dialogue of life in his Diocese.
The new municipal mayor in his speech expressed his total support in protecting the endangered few remaining forests in the area.
Stillness, caring for life, bridging, interconnectedness, like the two majestic 10 year old banyan trees. “One tree of such age is a host to more than ten thousand living creatures “ quoted from Mr. Jong Curaesma, a banyan expert.
The centre developed under the care and administration of Sister Kathleen, a legacy to the rest of the world, particularly to the Subanen People who are the “royal seed keepers” of many endangered varieties of rice, corn and numerous forest trees, animals, birds and plants and yet very vulnerable, to the cost of losing their own cultural identity and space, on the land struggling against multinational mining companies and political and social factors.