My Climate Story

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.



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.

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!

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.

Photo from

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.”

Renewables in the Philippines

Here’s the lowdown on climate change. It is real. You may deny it all you want but it won’t simply go away. The increase of global temperatures leads to catastrophic weather disasters. Greenhouse gas emissions are the culprit. Around 50% of which come from the energy sector powered mainly by coal and other fossil fuels. Thus the campaign to shift to renewables.

The energy mix of the Philippines is composed of 30% renewable energy (RE) installed capacity, 30% natural gas, 30% coal, and 10% oil. According to Atty. Jay Layug, Chairman of National Renewable Energy Board, the target for 2030 is to increase RE installed capacity from 30% to 50%. This is possible as the country has a lot of potential for renewables namely biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, and wind.

However, as explained by Atty. Layug in a forum, there are challenges and mostly it’s the cost. Coal with its Php 3 to Php 4 generation rate is ideal for base load (minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over 24 hours). Hydro and geothermal could compete with coal cost-wise but it’s not easy to build dams plus there are also NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) issues to deal with. For geothermal, we have already tapped most of our reservoir.

How about solar? We can use this energy source at daytime. It can be stored but the price of battery is prohibitive. Nevertheless, solar can replace the more expensive diesel.

We should understand that the low cost of coal is because the negative impacts to health and the environment are not captured in the price. Carbon pricing, putting cost to carbon pollution, can give us a clearer picture of how costly coal really is.

We can still develop as a nation if we stop using coal and other fossil fuels. If we think long-term, in the context of sustainable development, it can be done.

Ratifying the Paris Agreement

Climate change is real. I suppose we have already established that. And the Paris Agreement, though not perfect, is a welcome attempt to combat climate change.

One key point of the Paris Agreement, as summarized by The Guardian, is limiting the temperature rise to 1.5C. The layman may not understand how that is important but let’s just say that a mere 0.85C increase of temperature spells death through catastrophic weather occurrences so we could imagine how worse it could get. We have, however, already reached 1C and according to data, this would continue on.

There are commitments of reducing carbon emissions, the culprit of climate change, but they are simply promises. Reduction of emissions would in a sense, stymie our development as claimed by President Duterte although the agreement recognizes that peaking will take longer for developing countries. So I guess that allows us to continue trashing the planet? Well there is also a provision on financial support expected to help developing countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy.

The Philippines is one of the 197 nations which signed the Paris Agreement. However, we haven’t ratified it yet. To date, 92 parties already did. For a vulnerable developing country such as ours, ratifying the Paris Agreement would let us fully engage and negotiate with other parties so that gaps in the treaty may be addressed.

Again, the Paris Agreement is far from perfect but it’s better than nothing. At the end of the day, curbing climate change is dependent on humanity’s collective political will. We either wallow in the blame game or we can choose to take action. We decide.


Take action now and sign the petition asking for the Philippines to ratify the Paris Agreement.


Musings on Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project

Back in college, I read Al Gore’s book, “Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit” and I was amazed and inspired by how passionate he was about promoting climate change awareness. Today, I had the opportunity to witness his presentation during the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps training held in Manila.

Al Gore

It was sad to once again be confronted by the realities of climate change. Why did we allow our planet to be in its current state? Global warming, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions, typhoons, droughts. The presentation which included video clips of raging floods, disintegrating glaciers, forest fires, and people crying as they talk about lost lives and properties due to natural disasters was heartbreaking. What’s worst, as Pope Francis, in his Encyclical letter, states, the gravest effect of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.

Global systems vulnerable to climate are food supply, water, health, and infrastructure. Al Gore further stressed that there is a risk of food security in the Philippines because of climate change.

I know Al Gore didn’t want me to feel depressed but this is the inconvenient truth we oh, so try to ignore. It is real. It is urgent. But it is also solvable. One of the solutions Gore focused on is shifting from coal to renewable source of energy. Incidentally, the solar power company I’m working for, SolarPacific, would be inaugurating its first solar farm in Misamis Oriental this week so I’m happy that somehow we are contributing to the solution.

The 12.5 MWp Kirahon Solar Power Plant at Misamis Oriental.

And speaking of solutions, I remember how environmental advocates in Baguio, headed by one of my mentors, Michael Bengwayan, an environmental activist, are organizing a march for the trees on March 21 celebrating the International Day of Forest.

There are so many initiatives being done to stop climate change. The 650 strong participants of the Climate Reality Project, have been pitching in and have committed to continue contributing to the solution.

Al Gore said it best, “The will to act is in itself a renewable resource.” May we continue harnessing this resource.