years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
To mark World Animal Day, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) organised two animal blessings and were overwhelmed with the response - over 400 pets and 1000 people attended! Anna Nieves Cabrera from PAWS describes the scene below:
"There was a collective murmur of people saying their pet names as they recited the PLEDGE AND PRAYER OF PET OWNERS during the Holy Mass:
"I, (state your name)
promise you (state your pet's name/pets' names).."
that I will cherish you
and care for you
the way God intended for Man
to care for all His Creation
I promise that you will not feel hunger, fear, nor pain.
That I will not give you up in times of sickness
the way that I know you will stand by me all the days of my life.
I will not confine you to a cage or leash
I will provide you with exercise and companionship
I will be responsible for you in a way
that my fellow human beings will not be angry at you
nor punish you for roaming in the streets
This is my pledge to you
And with the help of God
Let me keep this promise."
Misty-eyed pet owners said these vows lovingly to their pets during a special Mass mounted by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society at the Bonifacio High Street last October 4, 2008 in celebration of World Animal Day (WAD).
From the entrance antiphon all the way up to the final blessing, one could see that this was not your usual Mass.
Booger, a Belgian Malinois, carried a basket of flowers in his mouth and walked alongside his owner, Atty. Byron San Pedro.
Officiating priest, Fr Joey Paras, SDB, could not help hide his amusement at the “offeror” and at the others waiting in line behind Booger. All other human offerors marched with their pets as they carried candles, flowers and fruits.
Fr Paras personally blesses each animal in the long but very patient waiting line.
“Collection dogs” were the Philippine Dr. Dogs and PAWS' "Professor Dogs" who went around collecting donations for the PAWS Animal Shelter. Also present were two shelter dogs - "aspins" (mongrels) Piolo and Gary wearing "ADOPT ME" vests, as a reminder to people that the organizers of the mass were open to inquiries about pet adoptions after the Church service.
Fr Paras jokingly said that he half expected the First and Second Readings to be delivered by a parrot and a mynah, respectively.
But the good priest’s homily was nothing but serious: he echoed the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi – to always treat the animals with kindness because they are God’s creation as well. He called on people to stop using local derogatory terms “hayop ka!” or “kahayupan” which labels negative human acts as acts of "animals" and to always conduct themselves in a manner that would show that they are respectful of all forms of life.
All pet owners patiently waited in line for the special blessing that Fr Paras gave to each and every one of the more than 150 pets in attendance with their proud guardians. There was one turtle though who did not get the sign of the cross on his ‘forehead’ because the owner warned the priest that the grumpy amphibian had the nasty habit of snapping at or biting human fingers.
A similar scene unfolded at Eastwood City Central Plaza the next day (October 5) . Before the mass, devotees of St. Francis participated in a procession of the life-sized statue of the saint around the area with an estimated 300 pets and 800 pet owners and family members.
The blessing at Eastwood City begins with the procession of a life-size statue of St. Francis of Assisi with pet owners.
Dogs at the blessing were seen wearing the beautiful blue-green WAD bandanas sponsored by Animals Asia Foundation.
Officiating priest Rene Javellana, SJ, said in his homily that Man was the designated steward of God’s creation and that we all could learn compassion and kindness towards our fellow men by the way we treat our pets and the way we treat other animals.
Attendees went home feeling light-hearted with strains of the final song “Colors of the Wind” still playing in their heads. “Singing Bee” siren Apple Chiu sang the fitting finale song at Fort Bonifacio High Street while Philippine Idol finalists Arms Cruz & Ynah Pangan rendered a duet version at Eastwood City.
Seen enjoying the unique event were animal loving Filipino celebrities and their pets - Manu & Agot Sandejas with dogs Tyson & Elvis, Toni Rose Gayda with Coco and Regine Tolentino who came with her whole family and shih tzus, Porky & Sparky. Also spotted in the crowd were TV host Ariana Barouk and SOP's Jan Nieto.