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MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of students and advocates called on governments and multinational companies to take urgent action in tackling the climate crisis in “Parada ng mga Parol: Pailaw para sa Kalikasan (Parade of Lanterns: Lighting ceremony for the environment)” at Plaza Miranda, Manila, on Friday, November 29.
The event was part of a worldwide strike called for by international climate activist Greta Thunberg in line with the COP25 climate conference in Spain scheduled to happen on December 2 to 13, where world leaders will discuss their next steps on the climate crisis. (READ: From the streets to the summit: Young climate leaders mobilize at UN)
Led by Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), strikers called on the Philippine government and leaders from developed nations to secure the future of the youth and heed the plight of communities impacted by environmental destruction due to climate change.
“We refuse to inherit a dying planet and a sunken country. We are demanding climate justice,” said YACAP lead convenor Mitzi Tan.
A recent United Nations report on climate change concluded that developing nations such as the Philippines, despite their minimal carbon footprints, will bear the brunt of global heating. (READ: Climate change creating ‘new poor’ in PH)
“We are fed up with the willful ignorance of multinational companies and world leaders of countries that are contributing the most to environmental degradation and the climate crisis,” Tan said.
Civil society organizations and indigenous peoples groups have joined the strike, taking to the street a common message of justice for climate-impacted communities.
For Jeany Rose Hayahay, a 22-year-old Lumad volunteer teacher from Mindanao, the issue of climate justice runs deep in their dispossession of ancestral lands at the hands of mining and agricultural companies. (INFOGRAPHIC: Who are the Lumad?)
“Ang lupa ay buhay ng aming mga katutubo (Our land is the life of our indigenous people),” said Hayahay, her figure lit by lanterns held by her students from Salugpungan school.
As part of the mobilization, a lantern contest was held in which various schools and youth groups displayed lanterns crafted from recycled materials, each sporting calls to raise awareness about the current climate crisis.
“Ang pinakasumisira sa kalikasan ay ‘yung mga tao na gustong magpayaman at magpayaman. Ang kapalit ay ang aming kabuhayan, kultura, tradisyon, at nakaugalian,” Hayahay said.
(Greedy people destroy nature the most, at the expense of our livelihood, culture, tradition, and way of life.)
Allied organizations in attendance, such as Greenpeace Philippines, stressed that the Philippines is already in a climate emergency, and that countries and corporations most responsible for the crisis should not be allowed to continue business-as-usual with impunity.
“Today’s youth are relentless in their efforts to demand solutions to the climate crisis,” said Greenpeace Philippines’ Marian Ledesma.
“They are not just fighting for themselves, but for everyone,” she added.
Below are some photos from the event:
Jaia Yap is a Rappler intern with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @jaiayap.