Philippines’ National Animal Rights Day 2022 mourns, honors billions of animals who die at the hands of humans every year

Solemnity. Peace. Quiet.

These were what enveloped participants and animal rights activists as they commemorated National Animal Rights Day (NARD) in Manila, Philippines on June 5, 2022.

NARD has been observed in a growing number of countries every first Sunday of June, lending a voice to all animals and raising awareness for their rights. NARD is both a somber memorial and a desperate cry for independence for animals.

NARD was established by the non-profit Our Planet. Theirs Too. in 2011, with special events held in major cities around the world to direct awareness towards the billions of animals who die every year by human hands, guide the public to cruelty-free, plant-based alternatives, and celebrate progress being made toward ending animal suffering. NARD is committed to be held until all animals are free from enslavement and their rights are established and protected by law.

The use and abuse of non-human animals is all too prevalent, as stated in the website: “It has been part of our daily lives since the dawn of humanity. We have gotten accustomed to relying on animals for almost everything we do. And while we raise our children on books, puppets, films and television shows revolving around animal characters, we have devised well-oiled systems, unimaginable in their cruelty, to raise, kill and use every part of the same, real animals, for all our needs: food, fashion, cosmetics, household products, medicines, manual labor, sports and entertainment.”

In 2019, 150 billion animals were killed in slaughterhouses around the world. In the United States alone, 15 billion land animals and 50 billion sea animals were killed for food. 15 million animals died in laboratories, 8 million were killed for their skin and fur, and 250 million were killed by hunters. It’s mass murder on a global scale, inflicted upon 100 million living, sentient beings every single day.

The observance of NARD in the Philippines this year was organized by BJ Guerrero Nicolas. Vegan for 10 years, BJ was also responsible for putting together the World Vegan Chalking Night and the Vegan Creative and Connector. She founded the Mainstreaming Veganism in Communities, co-founded Philippine Catholic Vegans (Ca-Vegans), and Happy Vegan World. She’s also the founder of the Philippine Coconut and Bamboo Vegan Community, which is slated for launch later this year.

At the NARD event held at the Rizal Park, animal rights activist Rodney Felix Esonactoc delivered a moving speech. Rodney Felix, vegan for over 18 years, is an interior designer and visual artist. He also founded Vegan Philippines Environment People Animals Spirituality or VPEPAS.

In his speech, Rodney Felix said: “A lot of people might find (a memorial service for animals) odd, silly, and even bizarre. Why? Just because they are just animals? Why don’t we treat animals fairly? When our pet dog dies, we are deeply saddened, we cry over their death, we bury them, and we even avail of pet cremation services for them. And when we bid them goodbye we even say ‘cross the rainbow bridge and run free, free from all the suffering, sickness, and pain in this world, and we will see you again one day.

“Where is this rainbow bridge? Is this heaven? So, if this is heaven, then people who have pets believe that someday they will be reunited with their pets up in heaven. So, this means we believe they have souls. Well, what about a lamb, a goat, and a pig? What about our pet bird, a parrot? What about a chicken? What makes these animals different from a dog or a cat? Why do we believe that we will see our pet cats and dogs in heaven, and not chickens, lambs, cows, pigs, and goats? Wala ba silang mga souls (Don’t they have souls)?”

Rodney also referred to history’s greatest thinkers. Hippocrates said, “The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different”. Pythagoras also said, “animals share with us the privilege of having a soul”.

He also referred to the world’s most enduring religions. Buddhists believe that plants have the five elements; air, water, fire, earth, and space, but only the animals and humans have the sixth element, which is the soul. In Hinduism, the scriptures also support the fact that animals have souls. It says “every living being, from the animals down to the insects and tiny organisms possess souls. Like humans, they are also beings (Bhutas) subject to the laws of nature and the cycle of births and deaths. We may consider them ignorant but they have their own language and intelligence.

In the Bible of the Christians it says, in Ecclesiastes 3:19, “For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.”

In Genesis 1:30, “And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life (soul), I have given every green plant for food.” In Genesis 7:15, “They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.” In Psalm 74:19, “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked; forget not the congregation of thy poor forever.”

Rodney also cited recent history, when Pope Saint John Paul II, during a public audience in 1990, affirmed that like men, the animals were given the breath of life by God. The Pope stated that “Not only men, but animals have a divine breath in them. Animals, too, have souls, just like men. The animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our small brethren.” The Holy Father has affirmed that ‘animals are as near to God as men are.’

“Even the word ‘animal’ dictates that they have souls. The word animal is derived from the ancient Greek word ‘Anima’. Anima is the root word of the word animal, and anima simply means soul.”

Rodney the delivered the following: “See their souls through their eyes. A lot of people believe that animals don’t have souls, don’t have feelings. But have you ever seen animals cry over their babies? Have you not seen animals miss their human companions when they die? You only have to look at animals through their eyes and you will know that they too experience joy and suffering. They too love and feel. And when you see this, you will know that deep inside them… they too have souls.

“Animals love. Animals have a wide range of feelings and emotions. Animals have consciousness, and this is more than enough proof that they too have souls.

“That is precisely why we are doing this memorial or funeral service, in honor of all the trillions of animals who died because of us humans. Animals who die having souls deserve a memorial. They deserve to be buried because as far as I know, ang mga bangkay ay inililibing sa lupa at hindi sa ating mga tiyan (the dead are committed to the earth, not to our stomachs).”

The “Reading of The Declaration” was done by Bella Mikaela Guerrero Nicolas, a BFA Freshman at the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines and a vegan artist and book illustrator.

Speakers at the NARD included Dr. Joseph M. Acosta, Medical Director of San Juan City Medical Centre, and a vegan for five years. Animal rights activist Dennis Gutierrez also spoke during the event. Banker and realtor Dennis has also been vegan for five years, and is a co-founder of Ca-Vegans.

NARD participants included vegan activist and naturopathic practitioner Donah Magat, founder of Green Spot Café (, vegan musician Paolo Alcantara, owner of Green Note Kitchen (, Roel Capili and Cleo Opulentisima, who have been vegan for five years and run an animal-rescue center, and fellow vegans and animal rights activists Christian Nicole, Dennis Sta Ana Castillo, JM Rivera Eulalio, and Paolo de Lumen.

Event sponsors include Fine Craftsmen (; Manny Laxamana and MJ Laxamana-Caber, who partnered in the group’s vegan advocacy and activism by printing the official NARD shirts and all other merchandise related to saving animals and the vegan movement; Vegan Options ( with Geoff and Jessica Tiongson donating vegan rice meals; Good Clean Cart ( with Amie Mabalay-Cornista and Roy Cornista donating vegan sandwiches; Chef Jeng Dignos with her company Creating Passion (; The Sexy Kitchen By B with Chef B Lilibeth Camposano; Jack’s Produce ( of Ferch Santos-Reynoso and Ryan Andres Dakila;

Archie Grapa and Laurence Ourac, who shouldered the expenses related to the venue, and Aldous Calubad, Auggie Yap-Surratos and Reli Surratos, Roel and Cleo; Christian Nicole and Camille, and; Edwin Mendiola of E-Live Light and Sound Rental (