I'm a Filipino, out in the Pacific on a climate mission
More than 98 million Filipinos faced Typhoon Chedeng (Maysak) during their Easter weekend. It seemed like an April Fool's joke, but it wasn’t.
I heard the news while at sea, onboard the Greenpeace ship, the MY Esperanza. I immediately thought of home.
As a husband and father of 3, I constantly worry for my family’s safety and well-being. I worry because I’ve seen how the environment has become unsustainable and plagued with so many problems.
I have been an environmental advocate and a Greenpeace volunteer since 2004. I once worked as a quartermaster on cruise ships. I was also an able-bodied seaman on commercial ships. I then decided to volunteer as a Greenpeace ship crew in 2010.
I sailed with Greenpeace, first as a deckhand, and now as a bosun and deck supervisor. I make sure that the ships are clean and well-maintained.
I have since sailed on other Greenpeace ships for different environmental issues.
The ships are used to raise people’s awareness and to engage with governments and corporations that are doing environmental harm. The ships are also used for research and documentation. We bear witness to the state of the environment in remote and far-reaching corners of the world.
On this particular journey, I am with a bold group of passionate environmentalists and activists who are on a very important climate mission. Because I come from a country that has been hit by so many super storms almost every year, the mission is a personal one.
With typhoons becoming more constant and more intense due to global climate change, I fear for the future of the millions of Filipinos, especially those who live along the coast and whose lives and livelihood will be affected. Majority are actually defenseless and vulnerable to deal with extreme weather events.
Images from recent super typhoons like Pablo and Yolanda — heavy floods, towns flattened, storm surges, plantations wiped out by strong winds— are still fresh on my mind.
Science tells us that climate change causes more and more of these extreme weather events, and they are bound to hit the Philippines. This will become the “new normal.”
I am now thousand miles away on the Esperanza, tailgating a vessel with a giant oil rig bound for the Arctic.
With me are 6 activists who have bravely scaled the rig to shine the spotlight on the perpetrators of the global climate crisis — oil and gas companies which continue to extract fossil fuels for profit at mankind’s expense.
These companies will stop at nothing and will even drill for more oil, even in the fragile Arctic —the world’s “air conditioner,” which is responsible for regulating the planet’s temperatures.
Icemelting would contribute to rising sea levels, it would disrupt global weather patterns, and would speed up global warming.
Protecting the Arctic means protecting us all, including highly vulnerable countries like the Philippines.
As a Filipino, it is my duty to take a stand, fight for the climate, and stop these fossil fuel companies that continue to contribute to the climate crisis.
These culprits disregard the catastrophic consequences of their activities.
We Filipinos have been commended for our strength, faith, and resiliency, especially during natural disasters. But there is a limit and threshold to coping with hazards.
That is why I am here on the Esperanza, which actually means hope in Spanish. I am here to stand with the 6.8 million strong, who speak in one voice, calling on these companies to stop investing in short term profit that contributes to the climate crisis.
We stand together and say that these companies need to act now and to start directing their investments toward safe, smart, efficient, and renewable solutions we need for our future.
I hope you will stand with me. – Rappler.com
Eric Bangad is a Filipino crew member on board the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza, which is currently in the Pacific in a bid to stop a big oil company from drilling in the fragile Arctic.