MANILA, Philippines – The international community rallied around the Philippines in the aftermath of the world’s strongest storm, Haiyan.
As the first anniversary of its landfall nears, climate advocates begin a 40-day journey on foot from Manila to Tacloban aiming to raise awareness and urge action to prevent another massive disaster.
Katerina Francisco reports.
When Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of destruction across Central Philippines it moved Philippine envoy Naderev Saño to tears.
In an emotional speech at a global summit last year, Saño blamed climate change. This year, he’s walking the talk.
For 40 days, Saño joins advocates on a 1,000 kilometer journey from Kilometer Zero in Manila to Ground Zero in Tacloban City, on the anniversary of the historic landfall of Haiyan. They are calling for climate justice urging leaders to take concrete steps to help vulnerable countries like the Philippines.
After last month’s global talks in New York ended with vague promisesm Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia says it’s time to demand accountability.
VON HERNANDEZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE SOUTHEAST ASIA: We hope that through this walk we may be able to send a message to leaders that it’s now time for action. No more vacillation, no more shameless backsliding, we demand climate justice.
An estimated crowd of 300 gather in Luneta Park to kickoff the event. The walk is a tribute to the thousands who died during Haiyan but also aims to spotlight stories of survival and resiliency.
YEB SAÑO, PHILIPPINE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSIONER: What we intended to do is chronicle the actual experiences and stories of ordinary people who confront and who survive these extreme weather events. We know that people understand stories, people listen to stories, if you compare that to technical reports that are a hundred pages, people would rather hear the stories of those who experience climate change in real life.
JECKREE MISSION, CLIMATE REVOLUTION ADVOCATE, DAKILA: Ito ang chance namin para marinig yung boses talaga ng mga apektado. After marinig ang boses, we would want to share this voice, we would want to voice out, kumbaga maiparating namin sa world leaders yung mga hinaing ng mga kababayan natin.(This is our chance to hear the voices of those affected [by disasters.] After we hear their voices, we would want to share this voice. We want world leaders to know of our countrymen’s plight.)
But more than just raising awareness these advocates want to prevent another humanitarian crisis. On their way to Tacloban, they will stop at towns and villages to hand out disaster resilience kits and teach communities.
YEB SAÑO, PHILIPPINE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSIONER: It is important for us to make people understand that climate change must be at the core of governance, at the core of what people do everyday. Climate change cannot merely be a discussion that pertains to our minds, but it must reach the hearts of people, especially those who can change the big stuff, those decision makers, world leaders who can change the way we look at this problem.
Katerina Francisco, Rappler, Manila