From top to bottom: Signis Asia members gather for group photo during SAA 2010 in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia; Welcoming address by a local Dominican priest; Tour of Lapindo, a locality hit 4 years ago by a mudslide, which is still ongoing, due to mining activity.
By Mary Anne Padilla, FSP
Social Communications Apostolate of the archdiocese represented by Sr. Mary Anne Padilla, FSP together with Rev. Fr. Casibjorn Quiacao participated in the Signis Asia Assembly 2010 (SAA) in Surabaya, Indonesia last September 20-24, 2010. The Theme chosen for this year's assembly “Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation: Media's Role” was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI's message for World Day of Peace on January 10, 2010. The Pope said, “The environment must be seen as God's gift, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.”
Augustine Loorthusamy, in an address from the Signis World President heeds the pontiff's call for environmental protection interconnecting with cultivating peace. Aware of the many problems relating to man's natural environment, such as the abuse of natural resources led to climate change and catastrophic calamities, he urged all delegates and participants coming from various countries in Asia to bring in more media professionals and practitioners to their country's Signis to work collectively for peace and protection of creation.
Antonio and Elizabeth de Castro, founders of Earthworm Sanctuary, Quezon City, Philippines, keynote speakers for the first day of the conference spoke of the value of Vermiculture, an artificial rearing or cultivation of earthworms and uses worm's vermicompost for organic farming, which not only converts garbage into valuable manure but also keeps the environment healthy. Vermiculture, a newly introduced technology, counters inorganic fertilizers and consequently prevents cancer risks in consumers.
Mr. Errol Jonathans, deputy general manager of Surabaya Radio Station and speaker for the second day of the conference emphasized Media's role in cultivating peace and protecting creation. Citing Pope Benedict XVI's passage, he said “Media play a great role and responsibility in protecting the environment.”
Prevalent suggestions raised after the second day's group discussion were to come up with a common media project on environmental protection translated into different languages and share it to the different countries in Asia where Signis is established. Others also mentioned that available materials at hand can also be shared for other countries.
The third day set for local Radio and TV immersion, the delegates and observers were first brought to the district of Sidoarjo, a place where the Lapindo mudflow has caused havoc in the area since December 2006. The disastrous mud flow was the result of human error performed by an oil drilling company Lapindo Brantas Inc.
During the mudflow tragedy, the Church jointly working with the local media in the area played a significant role in awakening people's consciousness of their role and responsibility toward creation. This responsibility saves mankind from the danger of self-destruction.
The assembly continued with two day assessment reports of Signis members from South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia. A concelebrated Mass was presided by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Surabaya to conclude the five-day meeting of Asian Catholic Communicators, the other name of Signis Asia.