Manila's dump to host world first environmental church

A parish in the Philippines capital of Manila is constructing a church from recycled materials in the midst of the infamous Smokey Mountain shanty town in what the parish priest describes as the world's first ever environmental church.

AsiaNews reports that the "Church of Hope" in the parish of the Resurrected Christ located in the Smokey Mountain dumpsite in Manila will turn waste into fertiliser and other useful materials, helping residents learn how to improve their living conditions.

Parish priest Fr Benigno Beltran said on Sunday that he hoped to celebrate the 2007 Christmas Novena in the new church, which will feature solar panels, a rain catchment system and waterless composting toilets.

He is also eyeing the use of coconut oil based diesel fuel for the church's generators.

An architectural firm designed the church structure in such a way that it could use some 200,000 hollow blocks mixed with old computer parts and other residual waste as materials. The church roof will be used as a greenhouse for growing vegetables.

The planned five-story building will not only be a place of worship but will also promote economic activities among Smokey Mountain residents.

The church basement will be the venue for programs designed to promote activities like bath and laundry soaps production. It will also house Smokey Mountain's daycare centre and computer-based learning centre that caters to out-of-school youth.

"This would not only be the first environment (-friendly) church, but it would also be the first digital church because it is Wi-Fi capable," Fr Beltran added.

The existing makeshift chapel was torn down to make way for the new church, which will seat 1,200 people.

Beltran said while they have tentatively set the completion of the church in 12 months, it might take longer.

He said they need 50 million pesos (A$1.3 million) to complete the project and have already raised one-fifth of this amount so far.

Smoky Mountain is a 40-year-old mountain of rubbish with an estimated 30,000 people living off what others throw away.

The charity Aid to the Church in Need describes it as "a monstrous, stinking hill of rubbish, filth and folly, the urban rubbish tip of a metropolis bursting at the seams, where 15 million people live in an area about the size of Berlin."

World's first eco-friendly church to be built in a Manila dumpsite (AsiaNews, 19/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Surviving Smokey Mountain (ABC Radio National)
Toyota prepares car for coco-diesel testing (Clean Air Initiative, 19/12/06)
Alleviating poverty with technology's help (IT Matters)
A church for "Smokey Mountain": Life in the Slums of Manila (Aid to the Church in Need)

20 Dec 2006