Barangay[1] Kalawakan[2] is one of the eight barangays of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan[3] situated at the Sierra Madre Mountain Range[4] of Luzon. Likewise, the place is considered as Bulacan’s last frontier because of its tropical rainforest flora and fauna, preserved biodiversity and balanced ecosystem. However, this barangay has also attracted several large-scale mining companies to extract metals and minerals either from or below the earth. As a defense mechanism of the locals, they initiated to form a people’s organization (PO) known as Samahang Makakalikasan ng Barangay Kalawakan[5] composed of the Tagalogs (lowlanders) and indigenous people locally known as Dumagats through the help of some academic institutions. This organization which aims to promote justice, peace and integrity of creation, has complied with the requirements mandated by the Security and Exchange Commission of the Republic of the Philippines. On this note, the proponent described how the members have protected and preserved their natural environment, resources and wildlife habitat. He also explained how the group opposed and exerted efforts to foreclose the two influential large-scale mining companies through series of protests, public consultations, court hearings, conferences, fora, exhibits, fieldtrips and symposia in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources[6], the Provincial Government of Bulacan and several educational institutions. Part of this research article also explains how the members have sustained their integral ecology through livelihood, environmental and health programs in partnership with the Kamanlalakbay Program of the University of Santo Tomas-Office for Community Development[7] as indicators of contextualization of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’. The proponent utilized participatory action research as a tailor-made method. He also utilized an overarching framework known as reflection/action/realization process which emerged from his experiences as a community organizer. This model has 5 stages: first is experience, where one reviews the concrete situation including his/her experiences of the lived reality; second is brief social analysis where one understands the deeper systemic and structural of a particular social injustice; third is theological reflection wherein one is given the opportunity to examine the issue through the perspective of faith; fourth is action, where one decides what he/she can do and should be done to address the root causes of the problem; and fifth is realization, wherein one has to learn from his/her discernment. The aforementioned paradigm should be consistently followed when reducing social theories into practice.

[1]It pertains to the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward.

[2]Literally, it refers to universe or outer space. It can also be defined as a territory with huge land area. Hereafter, Barangay Kalawakan will be referred to as Kalawakan.

[3]Doña Remedios Trinidad is the largest municipality in Bulacan, occupying almost 1/3 of the total land area of the province. Hereafter, this town will be referred to as DRT.

[4]Sierra Madre is a long mountain range that encompasses Northern, Central and Southern Luzon.

[5]Hereafter, this group will be referred to as SAMAMAKA.

[6]Hereafter, this government agency will be referred to as DENR.

[7]Hereafter, this institution will be referred to as UST-OCD.

About the Author

He was the community organizer of the Office for Community Development of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Manila, Philippines assigned at Barangay Kalawakan, Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan from 2005 to 2012. This article was a product of his experiences and reflections as a community organizer. He is currently working as a Theology professor at the Institute of Religion of UST and a research associate at the Center for Religious Studies and Ethics of the same university.