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33 PH Catholic universities converge in confab on nature

At least 33 Catholic universities all over the country converge here as Holy Name University plays host to the two-day National Conference of Catholic Universities on Thursday at the Bohol Tropics focusing on nature.

The two-day conference centers on the theme of "Laudato Si: Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Care for our Common Home and the Response of Catholic Universities." Laudato Si is the encyclical on nature and on the issue of climate change. The Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines will hold the conference here in Bohol for the second time.

This gathering here in Bohol is co-hosted by University of San Carlos and the University of San Jose Recoletos based in Cebu. Cebu is the host of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held later this month.

The conference will focus on how humans will be able to take care of nature. Rev. Fr. John Leydon, MSSC, the 2014 Philippine Co-Convener on Global Catholic Climate Movement who will be the keynote speaker during the opening program. Fr. Francisco T. Estepa, SVD, President of Holy Name University will give his Welcome Remarks while Rev. Fr. Marcelo V. Manimtim, CM, ACUP President and President of Adamson University will deliver his message as part of the opening preliminaries.

A series of activities will kick off the festivities highlighted with exhibits about nature. Sharing of best practices in environmental protection will start the conference with the following speakers: Jesus Barizo, Director, Office of Student Services of Aquinas University; Ms. Ma. Delsa Gange, Department Chair of Natural and Physical Sciences of University of San Agustin; and Rev. Fr. John Christian Young, President, Fr. Saturnino Urios University.

Knowing fully well how the earth can turn destructive and how to reduce risks Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. Director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) will talk on "Risk Reduction on Philippine Environmental Crisis" to be followed by Atty. Angela Consuelo Ibay, head, Climate Change and Energy Programme, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Nature Philippines will also talk on the topic "A Look at the 2015 Paris Sustainable Innovation Forum."

Guests from all walks of life and sectors will also be attending the conference focusing on their advocacies and initiatives on the care of nature. Included in the roster of speakers are: Gina Lopez, Managing Director, ABS-CBN Foundation; Ruel Cabile, National Coordinator, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas; Donna Sanidad, Information Officer, Climate Change Commission; Rev. Fr. Benny Tuazon, Executive Director, Ministry on Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila; and. Hyacinth Suarez, Faculty, Holy Name University.

Activities on the first day will be concluded with a mass will be officiated by Rev. Fr. Frederick C. Comendador, OSA, President of the University of San Agustin in the afternoon. After which the fellowship among the delegates will ensue.

A simultaneous tree planting to be participated by all the delegates will follow a mass on the second day of the activities.

Fr. Milan Ted Torralba from Tagbilaran Diocese will talk on "The Conservation of Culture and Preservation of Heritage in the Midst of Environment Degradation."

Delegates will be exposed to the concept of eco-stewardship with the presentation of the studies such as "Brao Enco Suna: Theo-Social Reflections of the Taguibo Watershed" by Rev. Fr. Randy Jasper Calo Odchigue, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fr. Saturnino Urios University; "Building a Culture of Peace through Environmental Stewardship" by Prof. Elizabeth Ramos, Ph.D., Dean, College and Management, St. Paul University, Manila; "Laudato Si and the Ecocentric View of Natural Disaster" by Mr. Chadwick Tan, St. Paul University, Quezon City.

Also expected to be presented on the second day is the challenges to nature and human development with the presentation of papers such as the "Hagit: The Dumaguete Dumpsite Challenge" by Alexander Baena, Research Associate, Research Center, St. Paul University, Dumaguete; "Women’s Health in Selected Banana Plantations in Davao City: A Comparative Analysis" by Emma V. Sagarino, Research Associate of Research and Publication Center, University of Immaculate Concepcion; "Enhancing Communion of Vocations in Christ Shepherd of His Creation" by Fr. Jaime Del Rosario, OMI,Notre Dame University; "The Level of Awareness on Hygiene and Sanitation among the Families in Barangay Masagana, Dilasag, Aurora" by Mr. Roderick C. Quintos, Director of Laboratory, University of La Salette;

Care for fisheries and other resources with other ecological issues will be discussed with the presentation of the "Awareness of Fisherfolks on Philippine Fishery Regulations" by Carlyn Vina Jabasa, University of Negros Occidental Recoletos; and the "Studies of the Thomasian Angiosperm Phylogeny and Barcoding Group (TAPBG): Newly discovered endemic plants and their conservation status" by Prof. Grecebio Jonathan D. Alejandro, Ph.D., Director, Office for Graduate Research, University of Santo Tomas.

Prof. Gabriel M. De Los Santos, Faculty Member, Institute for Religious Education, Adamson University; Prof. Julio C. Teehankee, Ph.D., Dean, College of Liberal Arts, De la Salle University; Prof. RonelDela Cruz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Social Innovation and Research, St. Paul University, Quezon City; and Asst. Prof. Mark Anthony D. Abenir, DSD, director, Simbahayan, University of Santo Tomas will facilitate a workshop on the Response of Philippine Catholic Universities to Laudato Si.

The conference will conclude with presentation of workshop output, pledge of commitment, and closing ceremonies. ACUP expects around 130 delegates from the different Catholic universities around the Philippines.

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