Manila Times, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

RESPONDING to the challenge of the climate crisis, six Filipinos have pledged commitments to spread information on the science and impacts of climate change and its solutions after a series of trainings conducted by former US Vice President Al Gore during The Climate Project (TCP) Asia Pacific Summit (A-P Summit) held in Jakarta that ended Monday.

This A-P Summit brought together more than 300 people representing a diverse cross-section of industry, advocacy and social groupings from 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and neighboring European countries.

Gore and a panel of international experts provided the training hosted by The Climate Project-Indonesia with TCP-Australia.

Filipino delegates included media practitioner Philline Paye Donggay from Cagayan de Oro City; vegetarian Sheila Castillo-Tiangco, founding member of Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organization and Networking (Mission); university religious educator and administrator Father Manny Bolilia, OAR, of the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City; Engineer Noel Verdote of Ayala Property Management Corp.; and indigenous youth high school teacher Napoleon Paris of Saint Louis Pacdal School in Baguio City.

The new TCP presenters were mentored by TCP Philippine District Manager Rodne Galicha, who underwent the training in 2009 at the first A-P Summit held in Melbourne, Australia.

“It has been a rare opportunity to be trained by Al Gore and a panel of scientist-experts but the challenge is really huge in which moral responsibility coupled with genuine commitment is necessary,” said Donggay.

A vegetarian since 1996, Castillo declared that “there are so many choices in life, but this climate crisis issue needs an urgent action without any skepticism: we may choose not to act, however, the clock is ticking and action with clear intention should begin in us.”

“Responding to the climate crisis is a moral obligation. Creation has been sufficient but when greed reigns in humanity and selfishness thrives in every heart, the soul suffers and the integrity of creation is being tarnished. Indeed, stewardship is exercising a duty of care,” Bolilia said.

Being in the corporate world for many years, family man Verdote said, “3-Rs [reduce, reuse, recycle] is not enough—on top of the three should be ‘refuse’. I have learned so much from this training and I am ready to share this hard truth and science to my colleagues especially the basic values which we should exercise in the principles of corporate social and moral responsibility.”

“As an educator and indigenous youth leader, carrying such a challenging responsibility is a life-long commitment. Indigenous peoples are the lowest carbon emitters in the world, living in harmony with nature with sustainable livelihoods, but it seems that we are also the most vulnerable as our lands have been converted to mining areas, subdivisions, mono-culture plantations, malls and industrial farms –and land use, land use change and forestry has been one of main issues in climate change. How can we protect our forests if, as always, if the rights of more than 15 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines are either abused or not protected?” said 23-year-old Paris, who belongs to Kankana-ey indigenous peoples community.

Humans endangered
For almost two years in the TCP campaign, the team leader for the Philippines, the Sibuyan Island-born Galicha of PhilDHRRA/Haribon Foundation/Friend of the Earth Philippines’ Alyansa Tigil Mina, declared that after the series of presentations and trainings, he realized that he “feels like an endangered species.”

“With this alarming phenomenon, the present generation commits suicide; for the future generations, we commit homicide. The human species becomes the most critically endangered species of all time nearing extinction,’ he said.

In his updated slideshow, Gore specifically discussed the Philippine experience of typhoons, mudslides and floods and decreasing biodiversity as results of the global climate crisis.

He commended the Philippines for tapping renewable energy resources such as wind and geothermal, in which the country ranks second in the world.

“To solve the climate crisis, political will is needed. Political will is a renewable resource,” the former US vice president said.

TCP presenters in the Philippines are part of TCP Asia Pacific community, which started in 2009.

Officially authorized to present Gore’s slideshow in the Philippines, the new presenters will join TCP Philippine team that includes Gilbert Sape (TCP 2009) of Pesticide Action Network, lawyer Persida Rueda-Acosta (TCP 2009) of the Public Attorney’s Office, Miguel Magalang (TCP 2009) of Mariduque Council for Environmental Concerns, Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR (TCP 2010) and Galicha (TCP 2009).

For Gore’s latest presentation requests, e-mail TCP in the Philippines: [email protected] or visit the