UU Church of Caican (Philippines) and Global Climate Change

By UUA International Resources

One of the UU churches I visited recently in the Philippines is the UU Church of Caican, which is partnered with the UU congregation in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Caican church is located in a beautiful, friendly and welcoming village not very far from Bayawan City and Santa Catalina on the west side of Negros Island. The bus ride from Dumaguete City - where the UU Church of the Philippines has its headquarters - took a little more than 3 hours. I traveled to Caican with Rev. Tirso Ponseca who was the UU minister in Caican until recently and still has his home in the village. But, he is now working as the "Extension minister" for the UU Church of the Philippines and spends his time supporting many growing UU churches on Negros Island. It was a great pleasure to spend the day with him. Upon arrival members of the Caican congregation gathered in the church and we celebrated together. They also shared some of their hopes and dreams, and one especially concerning piece of the congregations' story - the Caican church is in danger of being destroyed by sea level rise. In Caican, and in many places in the Philippines, sea level rise is already notable. In fact, the sea has encroached on this village by an estimated 100 feet during the past 20 years. Within the past few years it was possible to look out at rows and rows of palm trees on land that is now covered by the sea. And, the church as well as neighboring homes, are now in great danger of being taken by the sea. I spoke with many people about this troubling situation and they explained that this area of the Philippines has long been projected to suffer from global climate change. Its location makes it especially susceptible to increasingly powerful typhoons as well as sea-level rise. A contributing factor in Caican is that a nearby business is quarrying stones offshore of the village. The local community is attempting to thwart the effects of sea-level rise by constructing a sea wall, and they are making slow and steady progress. The Honolulu church has been generously supportive of that project, and, UUs from other congregations are welcome to support it as well. Consider it a "carbon offset" contribution that will have a direct impact not only upon the village of Caican, but on the UU church and community there as well. For more information about making a contribution, please contact the UUA's International Resources Office! The photos below demonstrate how close the sea now is to the village of Caican, the last row of palm trees that are being uprooted by the sea, and in the last photo you can see the beginning of the sea wall as well as the back of the UU church.

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