Saturday, March 10, 2007


Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves. Drew Barrymore

SUMMER SUN is here! School children will soon have their break and most of them will just be at home – not to rest but to keep themselves busy with uncensored television marathon, to play with plastic toys and break Mom’s favorite vase as they wrestle for the remote control.
Or they can take one sunny morning to explore the butterfly sanctuary at St. Paul University in Dumaguete and discover Sister Joseline’s beautiful journey with butterflies: every phase and every turn is a wonder, no ‘ugly and awkward’ moment, every step is full of wisdom.
The idea of a butterfly sanctuary came from the University President Sister Maria Nilda Masirag, Spc. The suggestion came as good news for Sister Joseline Lasala who is the head of the Maintenance Staff and the Physical Plant of St. Paul. Sister Joseline loves nature and had been wanting to build an eco-sanctuary since her earlier days at St. Paul Quezon City. She is happy that the dream has been realized in Dumaguete on October 28, 2006. Oriental Negros with its high bio-diversity is a perfect source for flora and fauna for a nature sanctuary within the city, and this made the project doable.

The St. Paul Eco-Sanctuary Park has butterflies as its first inspiration. Sister Joseline sent out inquiries to friends on how to start a butterfly sanctuary, and one responded with a down-load from the internet, providing a simple step-by-step process with details of the possible species that could be collected for a start. Sister Joseline has kept the original copy of the instructional material and is willing to share this with those who want to be God’s “co-creator.”
Sister Joseline’s research on butterflies has given her a lot of insights on life and its dimensions, all anchored on a spiritual connection. She has discovered that the word “psyche” actually means “butterfly” and is defined with the concept of the soul – its departure from the physical form as it flies to heaven like a butterfly.
Her observation of the complete metamorphosis from an egg to a caterpillar, to its pupa stage and eventually to its first flight as a butterfly is a life journey for Sister Joseline that has given her a lot of insights. She has learned the following lessons: the pupa stage gives points in zero-waste management; the presence of a butterfly is an indicator of clean air for its fragile flight cannot survive in a smoky space, today’s world is too toxic for a butterfly to enjoy total freedom; a person’s touch can guide a minute-old butterfly to enjoy honey on a dinner plate and to take its first flight on a chosen garden; life is so short for a flying beauty can only live for two weeks or even less; a specie of caterpillar needs a specific host plant but it can share the same nectar plant with other species the moment it becomes a butterfly – a lesson on unity-in-diversity. These are just examples of many lessons from Sister Joseline’s journey with butterflies.
This summer a regular morning visit to the sanctuary will lead children to discover the butterflies of the season: the white-winged with striking black in the middle is the Catopsilia florella but the female can have yellow wings; Catopsilia pomona are the yellows with black upper edges; Catopsilia scylla is white with black edge and yellow on the hind wings; the caterpillar on a camote top will soon become the regal Hypolimnas bolina which would have purple to deep blue shades in its wings; lovely as the sunshine with its brown-orange wings and dotted in white on the fore is the Cethosia biblis. There will be more as the heat of summer leads other species to lay eggs on their respective host plants. Sister Joseline’s assistant Joefel Amor who enumerated the scientific names is proud to say that, “one visit may be rewarded with seven species.”
After her wonderful journey, Sister Joseline who is originally from Siargao Island, has become an angel for the environment. Hopefully, her call for everyone to be God’s co-creator will take wing and bring this University Town to an awareness that like butterflies, we can be without the sting that harms the beauty of our world.