Klima Kabisayaan: Climate talks and actions from Central Philippines

By Paula Bernasor

‘Naa na sad bagyo!’  Visayans often hear this especially when typhoon season starts.

 

Every Bisaya knows that while they are lucky to be living in a tropical paradise filled with pristine white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and beautiful landscapes, we also deal with the frequent onslaught of typhoons. Whenever I meet foreign travelers, I ask them what they know about the Philippines before they came. They would always say that they heard of our country from the news about super typhoons and how their friends often worry whenever they hear that there is a typhoon in the Philippines. Despite our international reputation for having the best beaches in the world, we are also known for having beast-like typhoons especially in the Eastern Visayas, my home region.

‘Hinay ra na nga bagyo.’ I was four years old and like most Ormocanons, they took Typhoon Uring as just another normal day. But now, that day—November 5, 1991—is ingrained in my mind as the day when a 15-minute flash flood devastated Ormoc City, killing an estimated 8,000 people. As a kid, I was not aware of the full extent of the damage in my community, but I felt the destruction personally. We lost everything that my parents had saved for. With just one typhoon, an entire city was almost wiped.

Year in and year out, Visayans constantly face the threat of destruction and displacement from the ill effects of climate change. Typhoon Odette was just one of the many super typhoons that we Visayans had to endure. Typhoon Odette, like Typhoon Haiyan and the rest, undoubtedly brought billions worth of damages. There is still so much work to be done nationally and locally for climate adaptation to ensure a better and sustainable future. Should we just live with this and just glorify being resilient while our Visayan islands continuously deal with the burdens of climate injustice and unsustainable practices? Of course not!

Climate change is a personal issue for every Bisaya. And this column—Klima Kabisayaan—is your monthly glimpse on the pressing environmental issues in the region and what local Climate Reality Leaders are personally working on to make Visayan communities more resilient to climate change impacts. As a group of active Bisaya environmentalists, we refuse to continue glorifying resilience while waiting for things to change. We are all about taking climate action and we will share those actions with you in this space.

The year 2021 is a year of growth.

In 2021, the Philippine Branch saw an increase in engagement as the eight (8) branch clusters were officially activated, along with the successful October Global Training that brought us to a total of 309 Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.

It is definitely giving a good outlook with the growing representation from the region.

The year 2021 was definitely a transformative year for all of us. Earlier this week, I asked the Visayan Climate Reality Leaders what their biggest takeaways from the past year, and here are a few of them:

Being a Climate Reality Leader is taking the responsibility of walking the talk.

“Bringing the name of Climate Reality Philippines is a big responsibility. Being a Climate Reality Leader is to be a good role model to others to prove that my actions are aligned with what I say.”

– JORAMAY MORALES | Ormoc City, Local Government of Ormoc City
Influencing change within your family is a big challenge but it is possible.

“It takes more than courage, especially when trying to influence family members who are not open to climate issues. I would say I am still at the foot of the mountain. It's going to be a climb.”

– ELLINE CAÑARES | Bohol, RARE Philippines
For change to happen, actions should be consistent, and leaders should be persistent.

“It was actually one of the toughest years I’ve had as an advocate and a student, given the COVID-19 pandemic. It surely made everything double, the struggles. My biggest learning as a Climate Reality Leader is that for something to be achieved, we need a consistent and unyielding effort to pursue our noble causes. With the ever-changing society, our environment continues to deteriorate, further exacerbating climatic phenomena. Hence, our efforts should be as resilient as our Filipino spirits that the future remains livable to all.”

– KENT BRYAN TORRES | Samar, Student
What’s Up Visayas?
 
If you are an avid Discord user and a Visayan Climate Reality Leader, hop on to our new server! 
Do not also miss our first Regional Virtual Hangout happening on 10 February 2022 at 7:00 PM.
 
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 

Paula Bernasor is the Visayas Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a Climate Reality Philippines Leader and Mentor, Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, and a volunteer for Project Sharklink and Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project. She previously worked as an Associate for Partnerships for Rare Organisation’s Fish Forever in the Philippines. She started Project Library in the Philippines, a grassroots movement that helps underprivileged communities in remote areas gain access to books and reading materials, as well as Ocean Love Philippines, which uses social media to spread awareness on pressing environmental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle and the circular economy. 

ABOUT KLIMA KABISAYAAN

Klima Kabisayaan is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 300 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.

It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.