The Earth Chapel was inaugurated on March 19, during the feast of Saint Joseph, and it is designed to be the center of the whole ecological reflection that both the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) and the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines desire to offer. In fact, this was a commitment that the Augustinian Recollects of the Province of Saint Ezekiel Moreno assumed during the last provincial chapter in February 2012.
The Order is just continuing its more than four century history in the Philippines, which can be symbolized by the Church and the tree. Since the beginning of the 17th century, they have been constructing Churches, and many of these are preserved. But likewise they have planted trees vastly: generally one in front of each Church. In so many towns built by the Recollects, the Acacia or the Narra tree planted by the Recollects in the town square centuries ago can still be seen. And this area continues to be the meeting place of the people.
Jaazeal Jakosalem, more known as “Bro. Tagoy,” is a religious with a heart of an artist. The construction of the “Earth Chaptel” has earned a recognition from the Philippine government. Last April 23, Bro. Tagoy received the Padre Neri Satur ecology award, “for the notable project within the field of sustainable construction and energy conservation, that is, the chapel built in UNO-R with native materials and elements that foment energy conservation.”
The Chapel follows building models using natural materials like clay, bamboo, rice straw, palm leaves. . . added to these would be abundant recycled materials, like glass bottles or used recyclable materials.
It is the first religious edifice of the country powered with solar energy. It uses led lighting and it takes a particular care of the interior ambience, by allowing the strong tropical light pass through green wine bottles that function just like a stained glass window. The chapel is interiorly well arranged and ready for any liturgical celebration.
The Earth Chapel is an idea of Jakosalem, who personally supervised its building; It was a fruit of collaboration of many persons. Firstly, a group of young students helped in building the structure. Then, three artists of Negros made their interventions: Marisol Alquizar, Nunelucio Alvarado and Jakosalem himself.