2005 – I visited Mindanao for the first time. I was told that they don’t really experience typhoons at all. For Luzon, Baguio in particular, it gets its fair share of typhoons but I remember them not being too extreme.
2012 – I joined a group of volunteers who traveled to Iligan in Mindanao to conduct play activities for children affected by typhoon Sendong. We went to two evacuation centers and had storytelling, did origami, and sang some songs for the children there.
We visited the areas where houses used to stand, those by the river. They’re all gone. It was surreal how tragedy sneers right at your face. We walked through the city. The funny thing was everything seemed normal. Business was on a buzz, as usual. People walked by as if nothing happened.
2014 – Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to make landfall ravaged Tacloban and other areas of Visayas and Mindanao. I was living in Manila at that time but the super typhoon’s strength was felt even at this part of the country. Haiyan claimed countless lives and destroyed several homes and properties.
The following year, some of my friends and I organized an outreach for children of Barangay Paglaum in Tacloban. We introduced the hygiene 5 through breakout sessions. The kids were also given basic hygiene kits. Aside from this, we helped coordinate a magic show for two Child Friendly Space areas in the community.
It was sad to see the devastation first hand. And for most Filipinos, this was a confirmation that climate change is real.
2020 – Addressing the COVID-19 crisis is, understandably, the immediate priority but we should also give equal attention to climate change and the destruction of natural environment, which come to think of it has led to this pandemic. The Philippines, according to the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index Report, is ranked second among climate-vulnerable countries. It is, therefore, in our best interest to aspire for a regenerative, resilient, and equitable future.
On July 18, the Climate Reality Project Global Training commenced with the objective of empowering 14,000 Climate Reality Leaders. I was trained back in 2016 in Manila and now is a mentor to some trainees. It gives me hope to feel the enthusiasm of these individuals towards climate action. It’s a long way to go and there would be a lot of challenges and disappointments that we’ll be encountering but we should press on and do what we can. That’s the only way to go. There’s no planet B after all and it’s up to us to work together for our survival.