Cecile Guidote-Alvarez reiterates late husband’s Lenten call to fast for Mother Earth

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Apr 06 2023 07:14 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2023 09:03 PM

Cultural caregiver and climate justice advocate Cecile Guidote-Alvarez. Photo by Basilio Sepe
Cultural caregiver and climate justice advocate Cecile Guidote-Alvarez. Photo by Basilio Sepe

MANILA — Continuing the climate justice advocacies of her late husband, senator and former environment secretary Heherson T. Alvarez, cultural caregiver and theater pioneer Cecile Guidote-Alvarez wrote a Lenten message for all Filipinos to fast for Mother Earth.

“I kept on dreaming about Sonny the past few nights and I feel like I had to write this message. When he was still alive, every Lenten season, he writes this letter,” Guidote-Alvarez told ABS-CBN News. 

Titled “A Lenten Appeal for Spiritual Commitment: Fast for Mother Earth,” the letter begins with a plea for “environmental penitence as the nation observes Holy Week”.

“It is a call for personal sacrifices by cutting individual carbon footprints to minimize the impacts of climate change, caused by deforestation and the excessive pollution of our waterbodies that now manifest in our Philippine river bodies. Our oceans are polluted by oil spills and plastic gyre,” the letter said. 

“Climate change, which upsets the balance and sustainability of the global climate, is primarily caused by the warming of the earth due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions with the abundant burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and derivatives -- diesel and gasoline,” it added. 

The message comes timely when the heat index in some parts of the Philippines have been reaching “danger zone” due to climate change. 

Last March 17, the highest heat index at 53 degrees Celsius, was recorded in Dagupan, Pangasinan. Also on the same day, the second highest was at 49 degrees at Central Luzon State University in the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija.

Guidote-Alvarez told ABS-CBN News that most common folks are still not aware of the effects of climate change, much more, how to prevent heat stroke, citing one of her visiting house aides who suffered from heat stroke.

“He walked the streets on errands around noon time without using umbrella or a hat. Even a hat won’t prevent heat. He didn’t bring water even if I told him to drink cold water along the way,” she said. 

“I must re-echo Sonny’s (Heherson’s nickname) call to fast not only with food and drinks but with consumables like perfume and cosmetics, clothes, shoes to cut our fossil energy that process and produce them. A gradual withdrawal from our wasteful consumption habits, even on our food consumption, will provide some relief to our beleaguered environment,” Guidote-Alvarez said in the letter. 

 Fast for Mother Earth is an annual program for Holy Week observance during Earth Day Month, initiated by the Earthsavers Movement more than three decades ago. 

"Sadly, a penitence that highlights the need to protect personally the environment seem not to have grown in spiritual dimension as the ruinous impact of climate change is upon us. No continent is spared”.

Guidote-Alvarez is director of the Earthsavers DREAMS Ensemble, which has been consistently awarded as UNESCO Artist for Peace since 2003. 

Sher said she is compelled to keep her husband’s legacy alive and pursue his advocacies “such as relentlessly, and tirelessly making this appeal every year to remind the public of the grave moral responsibility to protect Mother Earth and help mitigate carbon emissions to stop the destruction of our one and only common home, Planet Earth, our womb of life.”

“Earthsavers reiterate his conviction that our simple individual sacrifices will drive home the point that the scourge of climate change will need our scientific as much as our spiritual commitment.”

In the message, she added, “The leader of the Catholic church, Pope Francis, called the destruction of nature a ‘sin of modern times’ and that acting on climate change is ‘essential to faith.’”