DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – A power outage today, Monday, November 30, that affected Dumaguete City and some of its neighboring municipalities provided a stark contrast to the Global Climate Mobilization, in which local representatives took part.
The heat did not stop students, religious associations, social movements and other civil society groups from marching along the city streets. From afar, throngs of people walked towards the provincial capitol holding placards summarizing their sentiments on environmental destruction and its direct effects on their hometown.
“Our survival, our future, is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to keep quiet while these big corporations continue scraping the earth of its resources beyond what it can sustain,” said Chary Bacong of 350.org, the group that organized the event.
“We’ve spent billions to discover life on other planets and spent trillions damaging ours. We want real solutions, not the cover-ups to divert the people’s attention from the main issue,” Bacong added.
In the spirit of coming together, Tranquilina Jumalon, a resident of Barangay Junob and a Typhoon Sendong survivor spoke to the crowd of her hardships during the aftermath.
Jumalon’s message was both of gratitude and of longing—gratitude for the many charitable individuals who extended their hands to people who were directly affected by the calamity and longing for the much needed assistance that remains to be nowhere in sight.
“I believe that climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is a human rights issue. It encompasses every human right: the right to a secure place to live in, clean water to drink and clean air to breathe,” said Nico Calledo, a student-leader from Silliman Unviversity. (READ: Putting human rights at the center of the climate conversation)
Reject false solutions
As one of many countries directly affected by climate change, this global climate movement focused on several demands for Philippines in the upcoming Conference of Parties in Paris. (READ: What’s happening in Paris in December? 10 things to know)
Among them include delivering concrete solutions to current environmental problems and protecting every person’s right to adequate food, water and other basic necessities.
“We demand for a more ambitious target from countries historically responsible for climate change. COP21 must ensure we limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are calling governments from the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, including China to cut their emissions now because we are the ones who are suffering the most from their pollution,” said Zeph Repollo, a climate activist.
Father Burton Villarmente, the Social Action Director of the Diocese of Dumaguete said, “The march signifies the people’s readiness to be part of the solutions making sure our 2016 electoral candidates understand the scale needed to respond to the climate crisis. We need the leadership and political will to put climate solutions on top of their agenda.”
Amid the speeches and presentations given by environmental advocates, many of the participants staked a claim in saving the environment.
Filcon Rivera, 54, of Bayawan City has been making art from what others would consider as garbage. From pieces of wood, old toys and broken household items, he has made numerous art pieces.
“I want my own children and the youth to see that the trash that they throw out are still useful in another way and can even be made better than brand-new items,” Rivera said. He is convinced that through this, Filipinos can best showcase their creativity.
Rivera’s other achievements involve commuting through clean modes of transportation and promoting his advocacy called “Share the Road.” He has walked from as far as Apari to Butuan and is currently attempting now to travel all over the country through the use of a longboard and a paddle.
Shiegella Gealon, a Rover Scout, believes that its is everyone’s job to protect the environment. “I’d like to encourage people to do simple acts to keep their communities clean and conducive. It would be great to see all the organizations who attended this event act decisively,” she said.
Movements have been made by hundreds of groups in different cities all over the Philippines and the world for environmental sustainability
In bringing to the streets the need for tangible action against climate change, the community of Dumaguete hopes to fuel the national and global flame for climate justice. – Rappler.com
Michiko Je Bito-on is a senior Mass Communication student at the Silliman University. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Portal 2016 and advocates for environmental sustainability among others. She is also a Rappler Mover in Dumaguete.