On several occasions, I have had to listen to some of our people coming to me in groups and asking me to mediate or appeal their case for them. What case? Eviction. I had the chance to listen to the heartaches of some squatters from an area in Cubao. I sat and ate with a group whose homes behind Loyola Memorial Chapels were being demolished. The common denominator of all these groups is that they just want to be listened to, given a little more time to pack up or see the fulfillment of the promise that they will be given a new place to build new homes for themselves. If man can do this to his fellowmen-bug them off like flies where they are not wanted -can you imagine how easy it is to send away animals from a familiar habitat?

Sometime at the end of June, Villa San Miguel received a letter and a council resolution from the Parish Pastoral Council officers and members of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Malate. It was an appeal to disallow the transfer of the animals of the Manila Zoo to the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila along Asuncion Street, South Malate, even temporarily. They believe that the transfer of the animals will endanger the lives of the people, especially the children who frequent the playgrounds. The use of the Paraisong Batang Maynila as a temporary zoo will also deprive the people of Manila, especially those living within Malate, of a recreation area where they can relax and play. Sanitation in the area will be affected; trees will have to be cut. These are but a few of the repercussions of a decision to develop a portion of the present Manila 20o into a commercial complex. Now, what happens to the animals?

Animals are creatures of habit. A change in their environment might cause a lot of damage to them. What happens to the children who have the Manila Zoo as a simple, affordable, educational, and recreational destination? Metro Manila hardly has any place of recreation where parents can bond with their children while enjoying the breeze and the rest of nature. We have only one big park for 10 million Manila residents?

Why then must the zoo be tampered with? Presumably, this is done in the name of industrialization. What will happen to our youth when they have less of nature to appreciate?

Trees will be cut down. Trees that have stood there, giving countless children and their parents energy and clean air, will be toppled down. For what? So that there will be more shopping malls to remind us to get and acquire more and more material goods. The stores will be there to remind us of how little we have so that we can buy more. Where is the real value now? It is bad enough that there is no more grass along the Pasig River banks that our children can run around on and enjoy the breeze. Are we saying that the animals and the big trees can go too? There is not much value or revenue from these natural resources, anyway. Is that what matters most? Money, material goods, acquiring? God made plants and animals and all other creatures of the earth just like God made man. Man is extra special because he was fashioned after the image and likeness of God. In the balance of nature, where does a commercial complex come in? In the balance of nature, where do the animals and plants come in?

If we cannot be mindful of man in terms of how he feels about being “thrown out” of his own home, what more the animals and the plants that are realistically lower forms of being? How much lower in the cycle of life are we going to eradicate?

How many fish have we killed or sent away because of The way we pollute our waters? How many trees do we intend to cut down before we are fully convinced that first, only God can make a tree, and second, we need these trees for oxygen, shade, water supply, and rainfall? What is left of nature for the children?

Children have to learn how to appreciate nature and God’s creation because of our direct relationship with this work of God.

In the name of industrialization, we say we have the right and the power because God made us masters of all these. True. But God, being the Master of us all, may one day say we are merely on this earth, which is squatting in some place of the universe, taking up space which God now intends for something else. What if one day, without notifying us, He decides that he wants to evict us or make us move over? God simply says, “Get out of here! I have other plans. I want the earth to move over or maybe disappear completely. I now want to create an oblong earth with spikes on it. I am tired of a round earth.” Will we have time even just to run and get our toothbrush or our cash and valuables? Definitely not. Come to think of it, what in heaven’s name for, when in reality, we will not even have time to just move over? We might simply vanish! What will we do with the money and all the material possessions we bought in the mall?

Jesus Our Light

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