Filipino Youth Beyond Paris (and yes, youth pa rin ako)

Ang suwerte ng kabataan ngayon. Ang dami nilang opportunities for youth engagement. Basta may event o program na meant for youth participants, tsine-check ko kaagad ang age qualification. Hindi na kasi ako pasok sa Philippine definition pero sa UN, youth pa ako so wapakels ako sa inyo, haha! Joke lang.

Anyway, inorganisa ng Climate Reality Project Philippines ang “Filipino Youth Beyond Paris: Acting on Climate, from Paris to Kigali and beyond,” isang climate action conference para sa mga youth (yes!). Ninais din nitong pag-usapan ang national youth statement on climate na ibibigay sa Philippine delegation sa 23rd Conference on Parties sa Bonn, Germany.

Hindi iyan isang bonggang party. Meeting iyan at negosasyon patungkol sa Paris Agreement. Ang Agreement na ito ay naglalayong i-limit ang pag-init ng mundo below two degrees at tinatarget nga natin ay 1.5 degrees kasi just a slight increase in temperature could mean the end of the world as we know it. OA?! Pero seriously, remember Yolanda? Bagyo pa more ang dala nito.

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Picture ng aming mock negotiation (Photo from Climate Reality Philippines).

Eh, ano naman iyong Kigali? Bale siyudad ito sa Rwanda kung saan na-ammend iyong Montreal Protocol. Iyong Montreal Protocol ay nagpa-phase out ng mga ozone-depleting substances. Dahil walang effect sa ozone ang hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) ginawa siyang substitute as refrigerant pero powerful greenhouse gas pala siya. So doon sa Kigali Amendment, kailangang i-phase out na rin ang HFCs. Gets?

Policy work can actually be exciting pag naiintindihan mo ang mga galawang nagaganap. Isa pa importante rin siya kasi ito iyong nagiging basehan ng mga pagbabagong ninanais natin. At sa mga policy work na ito, siyempre dapat involved ang all sectors including the youth. Kasi nga, tayo raw iyong pag-asa ng bayan na paulit-ulit binabanggit na para bang nakalimutan na natin. Kasi feeling nila puro selfie ang alam ng mga millenials. Pero sa totoo lang, sa tingin ko mas empowered at proactive ang mga kabataan ngayon, which is an awesome thing!

So balik tayo sa climate action, you want to know what you can do? Check out 101 ways to fight climate change. Sali ka rin sa iba’t-ibang youth initiatives at sabihan mo ako kung merong event pang-youth, iyong UN definition ha, hehe! But at the end of the day, bata o matanda, lahat tayo may magagawa para masolusyonan ang climate change. And the time to act is NOW!

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No longer the Baguio we used to know

Baguio has recently been designated as one of the UNESCO Creative Cities for crafts and folk art. While this calls for a celebration, I can’t help but think about the issues haunting my beloved hometown.

Baguio is no longer the City of Pines. The trees have been replaced by malls, tall buildings, and condos. Are we trying to copy Manila? Manila of all places! Remember how trees were cut to make way for a “green” Sky Park that features environment-friendly facilities. Really?! How smart! Very, very smart, indeed!

I’ve joined a protest walk to stop this madness but sadly, corporate greed prevailed. In a funny twist of fate, the mall’s roof was blown away by a typhoon, not once but twice!

Now comes another “brilliant” proposal of constructing a podium car parking at Burnham Park.

Baguio is no longer the “Clean and Green City Hall of Famer” it used to be. The city is choking. Choking in smoke, garbage, and plastic. There’s an ordinance that bans plastic and Styrofoam. I understand that this is yet to be fully implemented next year but when I was in town the past weekend, it seems like there’s not even an attempt to transition to eco-friendly bags.

Baguio is no longer the Summer Capital of the Philippines that we knew. This title, in fact, has been abused to justify putting up more hotels, more establishments, more cafes. Apparently, there’s almost a hundred registered cafes in the city! Far too many of everything if you ask me.

Blame doesn’t only fall on big corporations, businessmen, and realtors. Baguio residents have allowed the invasion of houses on mountains which appear nice at night but look like garbage piled on top of each other at daytime. It’s easy for us to put the fault on tourists for garbage and too much traffic but we also contributed to these.

Sigh… the rant just goes on.

But the real question is where do we go from here?

Terror

Oo. I consider myself a terror teacher. Pati ako matatakot sa sarili ko.

Pagpasok palang ng classroom, animo’y mga ipis na ayaw sa ilaw ang mga estudyante kong balik kaagad sa mga upuan at todo pretend na behaved sila. Otherwise, makakatanggap sila ng death stare.

“Umupo nang matuwid, itikom ang bibig, kamay sa desk!” Parang military. Iyong mga boys, aliw na aliw kasi marami sa kanila ang pangarap ay maging pulis o sundalo. Don’t ask me why.

Nung minsang birthday ko, kinantahan ako ng mga estudyante. Hindi man lang ako ngumiti. Sabi ko lang, “Thank you, sit down,” sabay resume ang lesson. Cold-hearted, ano?

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Thank you, sit down!

Mabait naman ako sa totoong buhay pero kailangang maging super strict sa classroom kung hindi kakainin ka ng buhay ng mga batang hindi nauubusan ng energy.

I’m sure hindi ako iyong paborito ng mga estudyante ko. Pero may mga mangilan-ngilan na parang they could see through me. Iyong tipong mababasa mo sa kanilang mga mata ang pang-unawa. Na tila sinasabi, “Naiintindihan namin kung bakit kailangan mong maging istrikto.”

“Teacher, kokopyahin?” tanong ng mga tsikiting.

“Ay hindi, tititigan!” sagot ko.

May mga palihim na ngiti. Marunong pala akong magpatawa, sarcastic lang.

Siyempre, dahil Teacher’s Day ngayon may mga greetings at throwback pictures noong ako’y nagtuturo pa, three years ago.

Bigla kong na-miss ang ingay at gulo sa classroom.

Iyong pag-prepare ng lesson at pagtuturo in straight English na parang college students ang mga kausap (nganga iyong mga bata).

Iyong pagkanta at pagsayaw tuwing may program. Kapag teacher ka dapat kaya mong gawin lahat.

Iyong feeling na tipong may na-inspire o may natutunan sila sa iyo.

Maraming nagsasabing teacher nga ang aura ko maski hindi na ako nagtuturo. Marami rin ang naguudyok sa aking magturo muli.

Puwede naman, subalit marami rin kasi akong gustong gawin. Mahilig din akong maglakwatsa at pumunta kung saan-saan. Hindi lang para mamasyal kundi pati gumawa ng mga bagay na ikabubuti ng bansa, community work kung baga. Bilang guro, mahirap iyong madalas na wala ka sa classroom.

Hindi biro ang maging teacher kaya sobrang saludo ako sa mga indibidwal na pinili ang tahaking ito.

Sa lahat ng teachers, mabait man o terror, tulad ko, happy Teacher’s Day!

Commune with Nature at Mount Purro

Go on a hike and enjoy the air’s freshness of the forest.

Savor the generous helpings of freshly prepared healthy dishes (you can request for vegan/vegetarian options, too!).

Sleep in cozy kubo-style cabins and let the sound of crickets and the flowing brook serve as your lullaby.

Take a dip in the pool.

Bond with your barkada in the game room.

Meditate and have your reflective moments in nicely decorated huts.

All these you can do at Mount Purro Nature Reserve.

If you’re looking for a quick getaway and escape the hustle and bustle of the city, then this place would be perfect. Sounds like a promotional campaign but really, if you’re into nature and trees, like me, you’ll appreciate Mount Purro which is located at Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City, and is about an hour and a half away drive from Quezon City. It started as a reforestation area now it boasts of facilities and activities suited for everyone.

Truly, we always go back to nature for healing and rejuvenation. I just wish we could bring more of nature, greeneries, and trees to the city so we don’t have to go somewhere else to escape the concrete jungle.

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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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Art, culture and all that jazz

Yesterday was a very cultured day for me.

I got to attend Pierre de Vallombreuse’s talk on his photo exhibition, The Valley, that features Palawan’s indigenous group, Tau’t Batu, in black and white prints. Pierre shared his personal story of how his feet led him to Palawan 18 times, totaling to almost four years.

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Developing a close relationship with the Tau’t Batu, Pierre was able to capture special moments, some unexpected, that tell the story of this group of people that is able to maintain its unique cultural identity while integrating to modern society.

I asked Pierre for a tip for someone like me who is not a photographer but would want to create stories through pictures. His simple answer, to the amusement of everyone, take a photography class. Okay, let me add that to the growing list of things I want to learn.

One line that I really liked from his talk was when he said, “Each picture is not a statement, it’s a question mark.” Indeed, as I left the National Museum I asked myself, “How can cultural identity thrive in this modern world?” I also belong to an indigenous group but I can barely see any trace of Cordilleran in me.

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Ichiro Kataoka, a benshi. (Photo from Japan Foundation)

From the photo exhibit, I traveled through Manila traffic (of course!) and headed to Shangri-La Plaza for the screening of the Japanese film, “Dragnet Girl” which is part of the 11th International Silent Film Festival. The film is a love story of a gangster couple but what made it even more interesting is the live musical score by the Celso Espejo Rondalla and the presence of Ichiro Kataoka, a benshi or a silent film narrator.

The black and white film with English subtitles, the string accompaniment, and the animated voice of the benshi were a treat to all senses making this a one of a kind experience.

It’s amazing how there are numerous opportunities where one can appreciate art in all forms here in Manila. And a lot of these events are for free!

Speaking of art forms, let me add dance to my “to-learn list” as I’m a frustrated dancer. Last Sunday, I watched “KoryoLab 2017,” a showcase of the works of six dance choreographers. Two of the pieces had the issue of EJK as its theme and I found the performances powerful and emotional. Like Pierre’s photos being not statements but questions, the dance performances were certainly more than statements but evoked questions on relationships, life, and social issues.

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“Postcard” choreographed by Russ Ligtas. (Photo by Marveen Lozano)

From photos, to films, to dance, to this piece of writing. We all love telling stories. And we share them the best way we can.

 

 

 

Legazpi Weekend Getaway

“How can something so beautiful turn out to be destructive at the same time?”

This was what came to mind when I first saw a glimpse of Mayon Volcano as the plane descended at the Legazpi Airport. The volcano, completely visible except for a small patch of clouds covering the top, took my breath away.

According to Wikipedia, Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines erupting over 51 times in the past 400 years. The most destructive eruption was in 1814 that buried the town of Cagsawa. Aside from volcanic eruptions, Albay is also frequented by typhoons. But the province is a model for disaster resilience and zero casualty for their impressive disaster preparedness efforts.

Arriving so early in the morning, I got to walk around Legazpi, also known as the “New Albay,” which is reminiscent of a quiet, sleepy town but contrasted by a cluster of malls in the area. It was around 6 AM and all the shops were closed and most activities were centered in the market nearby. For me, Old Albay District had more charm with its old structures, quaint cafes, and hip and modern restaurants.

As a first timer in the place, having a perfect view of Mt. Mayon was the goal. For this attempt, we went to Daraga Church, Cagsawa Ruins, and Camalig (where Japanese war tunnels and the chocolate hills of Albay are located). Too bad, the volcano was not at all sociable and hid behind a veil of clouds the whole time.

Despite, this, we comforted ourselves with Albay’s one of a kind culinary offerings – traditional Bicolano dishes from Waway’s Restaurant which used to be a turo-turo (eatery); Bicolano fusion options from the famous Small Talk Café; and sili (chili) ice-cream from 1st Colonial Grill which also offers other interesting flavors like kalamansi (lime), malunggay (moringa), and tinutong na bigas (burnt rice).

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The following day, we got lucky as Mayon finally displayed a full view of it’s perfect cone, its unbelievably symmetrical conical shape. What better way to enjoy Mayon but through an ATV tour with Your Brother Travel & Tours. For someone who doesn’t drive and can’t even ride a bicycle for the life of me, riding the ATV was a lot of fun as we threaded through rocky slopes, a river, and long and winding roads.

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Legazpi is definitely a must-visit place. You get to go sightseeing and do fun activities, you’ll enjoy the food that will surely satisfy your palate, and you’ll revel in Mayon’s grandeur. How about that for a quick weekend getaway.