Photo provided by the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos shows the ‘Earth Chapel’ located at the university. The chapel, the first solar-powered religious structure in the country, is made of indigenous materials and recycled objects.]

MANILA, MARCH 22, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Evelyn Macairan - When you visit the chapel inside the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod, you would not only be able to listen to the word of God but get the chance to reconnect with nature.

This is what the faithful can experience when they visit the chapel, dubbed as the first environment-friendly chapel ever built in the Philippines.

CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that the construction of the chapel was a collaborative effort of three Negrense artists who offered their talents and skills pro bono to build the Earth Chapel. They share the common advocacy of protecting the environment.

The chapel structure was made of indigenous and locally available materials such as mud, bamboo, rice straw and stalk and cogon grass and recycled objects including wine bottles, discarded tiles, discarded wood slabs and other bits and pieces.

Brother Tagoy Jakosalem, a Recollect friar and an official presenter of The Climate Reality Project, did the interior of the chapel and incorporated renewable energy into the structure, making the chapel true to form and function in its liturgical scheme.

“The chapel is the first solar-powered religious edifice in the country. It is envisioned to have both a sound spiritual and environmental atmosphere. LED lights are used to illumine the interior. Wine bottles are incorporated in the structure, natural lighting effects emanating from the green-colored wine bottles, serving as recyclable stained-glass windows,” said Jakosalem, who is also an environmentalist personally trained by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore through The Climate Reality Project.

The other artists who worked with Jakosalem were Marisol Alquizar, a visual artist who spends her time building mud houses in Negros Island, and Nunelucio Alvarado, a leading social-realist painter in the country.

Alquizar designed the chapel while Alvarado transformed his pen and ink version of “Kristo ni Alvarado” into a colorful mosaic as the chapel’s centerpiece.

“Working on a mud chapel is a labor intensive exercise; that truly needs collective manpower. The chapel started its skeleton from the hands of volunteer students, who are all active members of the Tsinelas of Hope, offering their time to give life to the chapel,” Jakosalem said.

“We are envisioning the chapel to be the center of our ecological reflection, owing to the spiritual inspiration of our Creator; hoping to be transformed to be men and women of faith committed to protect and preserve the earth,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rodne Galicha, the Philippine district manager of The Climate Reality Project, said the Earth Chapel is a sustainable spiritual edifice that reconnects people to nature, to “what we have been.”

“This is the 8th R which we always emphasize, reconnecting ourselves to Nature, to the creation and to the Creator. Unless we are able to realize that we are part of the whole creation, we will not be able to solve this climate crisis,” Galicha said.

The Climate Reality Project in the Philippines is currently doing its bottom-up information education campaign with the grassroots to promote awareness of the climate crisis.

The group promotes climate change adaptation and mitigation through observance of 8-Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, refuse, rethink, rainforest and reconnect.

“We are called to be stewards of creation and there is a need to re-establish the role of spirituality in restoring the integrity of creation,” Galicha said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
All rights reserved