Al Gore visits Yolanda 'ground zero'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former US Vice President Al Gore surprised Tacloban City with a visit on Saturday afternoon, March 12, ahead of a leadership training on climate change to be held in Manila.

"Natigdaan ako. Nalipay guihapon nga usa nga dako nga pagkatawo tikang ha iba nga bansa bumisita ha amon. "Nagpapasalamat kami. Bisan kun duha na katuig an naglabay tikang han Yolanda, waray la guihap hiya kangalimot." Barangay 88 captain Emie Montalban told Rappler. 

(I was surprised. I am happy that a personality from another country has visited us. We are grateful. Even if two years have passed since Yolanda struck, he has not yet forgotten us.)

Shortly after the former US vice president arrived at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport at 2:30 pm, Gore made a quick visit to nearby Barangay 88, one of the villages in Tacloban that was almost flattened by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.

Crashing waves from both sides of the village claimed at least a thousand lives and destroyed more than 1,600 houses. (READ AND WATCH: After Yolanda: State of Barangay 88)

For about 10 minutes, Gore spoke with one of the Yolanda survivors in the village, Demetria Raya, according to Montalban.

Raya, a housewife, opened up about their family's harrowing ordeal during the disaster, Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez told Rappler. For almost a year, Raya's family lived in a tent.

According to Romualdez, the Raya family is now staying in a transitional shelter but they are still facing recovery issues like access to clean water. 

From Barangay 88, Gore went to the mass grave in Basper, a village in the outskirts of the city where about 2,000 Yolanda casualties were buried. He also visited M/V Eva Jocelyn, which ran aground due to the typhoon's storm surges in Anibong District, now a Yolanda memorial site.

SURPRISE VISIT. In a surprise visit on March 12, former US Vice President Al Gore comforts a Yolanda survivor in one of the villages in Tacloban that was almost flattened by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.

Photo from Alfred Romualdez's Facebook page

Climate Reality Project

Gore, the founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build up awareness about climate change.

Since the 2006 launch of his award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, global awareness efforts on the climate crisis has gone a long way.

In the film, Gore lent his voice to scientific facts on global warming, warning about its catastrophic effects if the amount of man-made greenhouse gases is not significantly cut.

In Tacloban, Gore reiterated the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels.

"Because of climate change, the Tacloban shoreline is moving inland. It wasn't like that 30 years ago," Romualdez noted. 

Romualdez said that Gore committed to help in introducing "effective ways to educate people about climate change" based on the Yolanda experience.

"We should share with the world our lessons so that other places which will encounter storms like Yolanda will be more prepared," Romualdez said. 

Al Gore meets Filipinos at #COP21 Posted by Rappler on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

 

Painful truth

In a meeting with the Filipino delegation at the historic 21st UN climate change conference in Paris, France, in December 2015, Gore noted that the Yolanda tragedy was a painful truth the world understood following his global campaign. (READ AND WATCH: Al Gore to Filipinos: Yolanda taught world about climate crisis)

"When the suffering of the people of Tacloban was understood and felt by people around the world, it had a profound effect on the way people understood the impact of this stronger storm," Gore said.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Tacloban," Gore said, speaking for millions around the world who were saddened by the tragedy. "We are hoping and praying that constantly recovery will proceed. The losses can never be recovered but we hope the hearts can be healed."

On March 14-16 in Manila, Gore will lead the first Climate Reality Leadership Corps training after the historic COP21 summit. The Climate Reality Project announced that on Monday, March 14, he will deliver the presentation that "has introduced millions of people to the reality of the climate crisis and sparked a global movement." – Rappler.com

 

More from MovePH's coverage of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training: