Advocating for ecological agriculture and mindful consumption

Last year, I was inspired to learn about the positive side of technology in Rappler’s Innovation + Social Good event. This year, I got to actively participate in the Social Good Summit (SGS) as I was able to share the campaign of #IAmHampasLupa.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video:

Rappler also wrote about our story here. Thank you, Rappler!

The SGS with the theme, “#HackSociety 2017: Innovate with purpose, leave no one behind,” focused on media and democracy; environment and climate change; peace, governance, and local development; and public health and well-being. It featured innovative solutions to society’s real life problems. It was also an opportunity for different groups to showcase the projects and the work that they do contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking of SDGs, The 2030 Project organized “LEADERS Unite 2017: #OurGoals.” This is a youth initiative committed to supporting the attainment of the United Nation’s 17 SDGs Agenda by 2030. For this activity, I was invited as a Youth Champion for SDG#12: Responsible Consumption and Production where I discussed how our consumption behavior can contribute to climate change.

Both of these events were a reaffirmation of how this generation, branded as indifferent millennials, is actually doing its part to solve the problems of the world. So despite all the negativity these days, it’s nice to know that there are still a lot of good things happening around us.

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Let’s #BeInconvenient Together

Why is truth inconvenient? We know that climate change is real but why do some people deny it? Why don’t we seem to care much?

Maybe because we don’t belong to the underprivileged sectors of society who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Maybe our priorities are corporate agenda and economic development which doesn’t factor in sustainability.

Maybe we feel that climate change is too big an issue and is out of our hands.

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Photo from https://inconvenientsequel.tumblr.com/

As a follow-up to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary focusing on the realities of climate change, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” premiered in the Philippines on August 28, 2017 at Trinoma. The movie further takes a look at the urgency of the issue and likewise highlights the Climate Reality Project, the climate negotiations held in Paris, and the shift to renewable energy.

And while we watch this sequel and is reminded of the devastation brought about by climate-related disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc in the US and just recently, devastating floods hit India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Facing these realities of climate change can be overwhelming. But according to Al Gore, despair is another form of denial. He draws hope from individuals and groups doing what they can, contributing to climate action.

Maybe we have a better capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Maybe we don’t see the connection of how so-called development contributes to climate change. Maybe we feel helpless and even indifferent. But as emphasized by Al Gore, the climate crisis is a moral and spiritual challenge to us all. And therefore we have to fight like the world depends on it because our world depends on it.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Be inspired by the growing number of Climate Reality Leaders, environmentalists, and advocates fighting for the planet. Let’s #BeInconvenient together!

Catch the movie exclusively shown at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Trinoma and Glorietta 4).

Wondering what you can do? Check out “101 ways to fight climate change and support the Paris agreement.”

Teachers Undergo Creative DRR Workshop

“Disaster and environmental education doesn’t have to be too technical or boring. It can be fun and creative.” This was stressed by Ryan Bestre, a Fellow of HANDs! Project on Disaster and Environmental Education and one of the facilitators of a creative workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) conducted for teachers held on August 26, 2017 at Navotas Elementary School-Central.

Dubbed as “Operation Kawayan: Promoting the culture of safety and resilience in schools through creative arts, storytelling, and games,” the workshop aimed to equip teachers with basic DRR concepts and present to them creative activities they could use in the classroom when discussing disaster and environmental issues such as climate change. The four thematic areas of DRR which are Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Response, and Disaster Rehabilitation and Recovery were covered. Other HANDs! Project fellows namely Gail Padayhag, Juan Miguel Torres, Maria Victoria Almazan, and Ralph Lumbres helped facilitate activities for the workshop.

“Operation Kawayan” is the HANDs! Project action plan of Bestre and Padayhag who believe that there is a need for a more holistic DRR education that is not limited to drill exercises, but also highlights the interrelation of environmental degradation, climate change, and disasters. They added that when teachers educate their students with the right DRR knowledge, skills, and attitude, they can save their students’ lives in the face of a disaster.

The creative workshop was also conducted on August 18, 2017 for child development workers and teachers of Tublay, Benguet and is scheduled for another round in Cebu City in October. A toolkit containing a collection of DRR and environmental education activities and games are being developed as part of the action plan.

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Child development workers and teachers participate in the Creative DRR Workshop held at Tublay, Benguet. 

HANDs! Project is a human resource development program of the Japan Foundation Asia Center. It was created as a place for mutual learning, sharing knowledge, and cooperating to promote disaster prevention and support disaster-affected areas in Asian countries.

Live to Eat and Eat to Live Long

It may not be obvious but I love to eat. However, participating in the Food for Life campaigns of Greenpeace and being a part of #IAmHampasLupa, a group advocating mindful consumption, made me put more effort into choosing the food that I eat. After all, “You are what you eat.”

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“…This is the tenderloin for the sophisticated restaurants. The Mexicans love the feet. I know. Go figure! We all love the face and the anus, as American as apple pie! Hot dogs. It’s all edible. All edible, except the squeal.” -Nancy Mirando, Okja

I watched Food, Inc. (2008), Super Size Me (2004), Okja (2017), and other documentaries, films, and Youtube videos related to food. I also read articles and books, and participated in advocacy events that further discussed the topic. I know, it seemed like I was brainwashing myself but aren’t we supposed to be concerned about stuff that goes into our bodies? Well, from all these so-called “indoctrination,” I came up with the following (obvious) conclusions:

  1. We have a broken food system. We are disconnected to nature, to the food that we eat; that we don’t know how it’s produced and where it comes from.
  2. Processed food is bad news. But we know that already.
  3. Corporations, as always, are in control of the food available in the market.
  4. We don’t know the long-term effects of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) but we’re probably eating them every day.
  5. We eat more meat and less fruits and vegetables leading to health problems.

In an ideal world, you would be growing and cooking your own food. You would be buying local produce and would constantly check the label of products you buy. You wouldn’t be wasting food. Who does that, anyway. Did you know that it’s the third best way of cutting greenhouse gases? And you would eat more fruits and veggies because aside from its health benefits, it can curb greenhouse gas emissions, too.

So what’s stopping us from eating healthy? Let’s start from home. Busy parents have no time to cook and resort to the convenience of fast food takeaways and processed food. Kids get used to eating junk early on. And then these big corporations which don’t really care about your wellbeing offer the “best-tasting” food in the planet, with the demand further fueled by these #hugot-inspired advertisements. Witty as they appear to be, sometimes how corporations take advantage of values, relationships, and emotions as marketing ploy can be disturbing.

If you live in the city, the readily available options you have are of course fast food and processed food yet again. Organic choices may not be that affordable to many but that begs the question, “How much value do you actually put on your food and yourself?”

Another eating habit issue is this notion that meat is normal, necessary, natural, and nice which drives us to consume more meat with less or no veggies at all. A 2003 World Health Report, however, estimates that 1.7 million deaths worldwide is due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to be a vegan or a vegetarian but health experts encourage a more plant-based diet for a healthier you.

Climate change and the environment, and animal welfare may not faze you in terms of your diet but if you want to live long, that should motivate you to give more thought to what you’re eating. Quite literally, it’s a matter of life and death.

Making Zero Casualty a Reality

“We live life with the assumption we have time.”

I nodded in agreement as I was in the audience listening to Migel Estoque’s talk about the work that Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation does and how getting connected; gathering essential, useful, and personal supplies; and making a plan could reduce disaster risk.

This was part of Rappler’s Agos Summit, held on July 7-8,2017, that highlighted best practices and innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

 

Preparing for “The Big One”

I remember being fascinated while experiencing my first earthquake in Baguio back in 1990. As a young boy, I was oblivious to how deadly the disaster was.

These tremors have been happening more often these days with the latest one hitting Leyte. Makes Metro Manila residents even more paranoid over the magnitude 7.2 earthquake expected to be generated by the West Valley Fault.

Will it really happen? We don’t know for sure but Ramon Santiago of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that the best we could do is to prepare people and to raise awareness. “It’s not the earthquake that kills, it’s the weak and old structures,” he added mentioning special concern over buildings built before 1990.

To further promote a culture of preparedness, a metro-wide earthquake drill (#MMShakeDrill) is scheduled on July 14-17, 2017. Regular drills build confidence helping residents to stay calm as panic causes more harm and even death in times of disaster.

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Baguio Hilltop Hotel during the 1990 earthquake (Photo from Phivolcs).

Nature can save lives

Situated along the Pacific Ocean (an incubator of storms) and the Ring of Fire (where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur), the Philippines has been ranked as the 3rd highest disaster risk nation (2016 World Risk Report), the 13th most climate-vulnerable state (2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index), and the 1st most exposed to tropical storms (Climate Reality Project). As a country, it seems like we got it all, disaster-wise.

The risk we face from disasters is even more exacerbated by our actions. There’s no proper waste management which causes garbage to clog drainage systems resulting to flooding. Due to deforestation, water flow during heavy rain is intensified which could lead to erosion or landslide. Intensive agriculture makes the country defenseless against the impacts of El Nino and La Nina, making us food insecure.

Senator Loren Legarda in her keynote speech during the Agos Summit mentioned how logging caused the mudslide at Saint Bernard, Leyte in 2006. We remember residents saying that logging also worsened the damages of Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro. In contrast, a town was saved by mangroves from the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda.

Everything is interconnected. But we have lost our connection to nature. We have to be reminded that our best defense against climate change impacts, quite simply, is caring for our environment.

 

DRR education for children

Children are especially vulnerable to disasters. But children don’t have to be helpless if we provide them with the right Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) knowledge, skills, and attitude.

The Republic Act No. 10121 or the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010” mandates the Department of Education to integrate DRR education in the school curriculum. Every year, the department observes the month of July as the National Disaster Consciousness Month, which is now known as National Disaster Resilience Month.

Related activities, however, are typically limited to disaster response drills and exercises. While these efforts are a good start, they seem to limit students’ skills and knowledge needed in the overall approach of DRR. Moreover, efforts that primarily concentrate on disaster response tend to leave a gap between understanding the interrelation between environmental degradation, climate change, and disasters.

But there are efforts that try to further provide DRR education to different sectors of the society, especially children. One such program is HANDs! (Hope and Dreams) Project, a research trip organized by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, focusing on disaster and environmental education + creativity.

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HANDs Fellows conduct storytelling with children in Thailand (Photo by Kenichi Tanaka).

As a HANDs Fellow, I was able to learn about disaster resilience stories from Navotas, Metro Manila; Bali, Indonesia; Phuket, Thailand; and Kobe, Japan (Apply now to be a HANDs Fellows this year). As an offshoot of the program, we’ll be implementing our action plan focusing on training teachers on creative methodologies for DRR education.

 

Zero casualty during disaster may be difficult to achieve but it has been proven time and again that with adequate information and preparation, it can be achieved. And the best time to be informed and to prepare is now.

 

Also published on x.rappler.com.

Rappler holds Storytelling Workshop for #IAmHampasLupa Campaigners

To equip youth campaigners of #IAmHampasLupa Ecological Agriculture Movement in the effective use of social media campaigning, Rappler and Greenpeace Philippines co-organized a Storytelling Workshop on July 2, 2017 held at Rappler Headquarters.

Rupert Ambil, the Executive Director of Move.PH highlighted the power of social media and how it can be used for social good citing Daniel Cabrera’s story as an example. According to Rappler, there are 60 million internet users in the Philippines and social media is the top online activity. Using social media then is an opportunity to engage, amplify, and empower as explained by Move.PH Editor Voltaire Tupaz.

“Take information and add value to it,” said Marguerite de Leon, Rappler Multimedia Reporter, in her session on the Basics of Feature Writing.

Meanwhile, Raisa Serafica talked about Social Media Basics and Publishing on Rappler X; Leanne Jazul provided insights on the visual language; and Franz Lopez gave technical tips on creating video stories.

#IAmHampasLupa is a Greenpeace-supported movement that aims to elevate the stature of farming and farmers, promote ecological agriculture, and advocate mindful consumption. Farmers, agriculturists, environmentalists, students, and young professionals comprise the group of campaigners coming from all over the country.

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Originally published on X-Rappler.

SenseCampPH zeroes in on Sustainable and Livable Cities

According to World Health Organization, more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas. With this, city dwellers encounter a myriad of problems such as resource scarcity, energy and food insecurity, traffic congestion, pollution, and natural disasters made worse by climate change, among others. How then can we work towards sustainable and livable cities?

This is the challenge we explored during the first-ever SenseCamp in the Philippines, the MakeSense community’s signature unconference. A SenseCamp is a participatory and participant-led conference where you get to exchange ideas and take concrete action on a specific social issue.

Held last weekend at Kahariam Farms in Lipa, Batangas, the event featured sustainability-related initiatives of various resource persons. Abigail Mapua-Cabanilla, Director of Hub for Innovation for Inclusion, provided a different side of how we see Manila traffic through their human-centered innovation research. Manuel Bretaña IV, Chief Curator of Qubo PH, stressed about the importance of creating more green spaces. Wilhemina Garcia of JunkNot, shared how regular and everyday junk can be transformed into usable items. Phil Gray talked about how harnessing solar power through sunEtrike, an electric tricycle, can move riders in a cleaner, more comfortable, and more cost effective way. Aaron Salamat of RVA Design and Build expounded on green architecture.

Aside from breakout group learning sessions, there were start-up creation and crowd-sourced workshops. Participants were also treated to a panel discussion blended with live music from Benjamin Bernabela and Amalia Morante of Tunay Arts Movement. Benjamin and Amalia became part of the panel together with Manuel Bretaña IV and Zero Waste Advocate, Xavier Martin who gave their insights on creating better cities through individual action.

On top of all the learnings, those who took part of the SenseCamp enjoyed the organic meals, the farm tour, the fun games, and the interaction with social entrepreneurs and passionate, like-minded people.

It was an inspiring and memorable weekend and may all the meaningful conversations lead to collective efforts in truly building sustainable and livable cities.

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