Look as far as you can see in every direction; I am going to give all this land to you and your offspring as a permanent possession. (Genesis 13:14-15)
From the mountainous spine of the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines you can see two coasts where people say the land was given to them by God, and they have a responsibility to guard this heritage for future generations. It is not that they are unwilling to share it; they have accepted various waves of settlers over the centuries and moved into the mountains. Yet now they are threatened by large-scale mining and this would mean displacement, loss of livelihood and the end of the way of life forever. They would be casualties of progress and development.
Of course, large companies provide a service to the industrial world which demands cheap and plentiful mineral supplies. A part of the challenge must be to our consumer society to recycle materials already extracted. The Subaanen offer us a sustainable model of living with the natural world that may teach our society valuable lessons.
Columban Fr. Frank Nally
Excerpted from Reflecting on Mission, St. Columbans, Solihull, West Midlands.