Manila Observatory, Ateneo de Manila University Host Laudato Si’ Forum

Exhibit of MO publications outside Irwin Theater | Photo by Randell G. Teodoro

In celebration of its 150th anniversary, the Manila Observatory, together with the Ateneo de Manila University, hosted a discussion on the Laudato si’ at the Henry Lee Irwin Theater last August 13.

In her opening remarks, Manila Observatory Executive Director Antonia Yulo Loyzaga contextualized the papal declaration vis-à-vis the Philippine context, emphasizing the country’s unique geographical vulnerabilities (including an onslaught of typhoons, its position in the Pacific ring of fire, etc.) and the persistent poverty of its people.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle delivered the keynote address. Four experts from different fields were also invited as reactors. These were Dr. Gemma Teresa Narisma, Mr. Edgar Chua, Dr. Anna Marie Karaos, and Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin.

Cardinal Tagle delivered a brief synopsis of the papal encyclical and discussed how Pope Francis is calling for a re-examination of the highly anthropocentric and haphazard way of living that has led to the steady decline of our planet.

The key term he used was “integral ecology” – the recognition of the many facets of an environmental issue that is not only affecting human beings but also every other creature on earth, to which the former is fundamentally connected.

Cardinal Tagle delivering the keynote address | Photo by Ramon C. Sunico

Cardinal Tagle delivering the keynote address | Photo by Ramon C. Sunico

Cardinal Tagle stressed how the problem is simultaneously economic, social, environmental, political, and cultural in nature, especially when dealing with how it has been affecting those in what the pope termed las periferias existenciales – the existential margins.

To support the discussion, the four panelists each contextualized the issue in the perspective of their own fields of expertise.

Dr. Narisma, Associate Director for Research of the Manila Observatory, proposed a rethinking of how scientific research is being conducted in order to accommodate the alleviation of the problem, suggesting a mode of inquiry that begins not merely out of curiosity but with those who are directly being affected in mind.

Coming from the corporate sector is Mr. Chua, Country Chairman of Shell Philippines, who presented some of the ways a private corporation such as theirs can ensure company practices that are geared towards the care of the environment. He enumerated some of the projects that they are currently involved with in relation to this, one of which included aiding the Manila Observatory in expanding their network of Automated Weather Stations (AWS).

Dr. Karaos, Executive Director of the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, situated the problem in relation to the social issue of housing and raised the question of how caring for a common home can be tackled in a highly broken urban setting.

Fr. Jett as the fourth and last reactor of the forum | Photo by Ramon C. Sunico

Fr. Jett as the fourth and last reactor of the forum | Photo by Ramon C. Sunico

Finally, Fr. Villarin, President of the Ateneo de Manila University, discussed the importance of a liberal arts education in the formation of responsible citizens. With the amount of risk that has been produced for the sake of development, he voiced out his hopes for how an education heavy on the deepening of students’ understanding of the humanities can produce citizens who, in their respective fields, will advocate for a less wasteful society.

Click here to see more photos from the event.