By Christianne ‘Kring’ Santos
September 2, 2022
During the wake of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, many grassroots organizations launched different donation drives. Individuals from all over the Philippines did all that they could to raise funds for the thousands of affected communities. These efforts continued for weeks and the tagline “Where I am from, Everyone is a Hero” was created.
Two years after Ondoy came, Typhoon Sendong ravaged the Philippines just before Christmas, causing many families to lose their homes to floodwaters. In 2013, Supertyphoon Yolanda struck, bringing unprecedented loss and damage to our people. It takes many years after each typhoon to rebuild these communities.
During those trying times, one thing was evident: We, Filipinos, have an innate sense of charity and a strong spirit of volunteerism. Even those with little to spare gave an offering or donated their time and energy to help these communities.
Do we need to wait for calamities before we act? Certainly not. Each of us, in our small ways and efforts, can contribute to the lives and well-being of others. We do not need to wait for tragedies to happen. What is important now is that we take on proactive volunteerism, and concretely do our part to prevent these natural disasters from happening, or at least lessen their impact.
Mitigating climate change: Practical contributions we can do
In his appeal for ecological conversion, stated in Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis wrote that “climate change affects the poor the most.” He rightly pointed out that extreme weather events, like typhoons, will only increase in strength and number if humanity does not check its economic activities and how these impact the environment.
While it is true that multinational and transnational corporations are greatly to blame for environmental problems that lead to climate change, ordinary citizens are not aware of the correlation between human activities and climate change. Many Filipinos are not aware that climate change is largely caused by our continued use of fossil fuels and inefficient waste management processes.
We are in a state of climate emergency, but many still do not understand the breadth and depth of the crisis.
As a social worker employed in the solar energy company WeGen Philippines, I have learned to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide for my work. I see daily the importance of education and advocacy work on environmental issues and concerns.
Students, youth, women in communities, workers, and local government officials are among those we reach out to and engage with on the steps that should be implemented to address climate change. We have witnessed that empowering people with information is an important first step in building awareness, which creates an authentic concern about one’s impact on the environment, even among individuals in the poorest sectors.
More than just selling and installing high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, we implement an education and advocacy campaign on climate change. Our social transformation agenda is to be a social-good company that upholds values that in turn protect people and the planet. We are in the business of renewable (solar) energy, which we believe upholds environmental rights. We enable companies and communities to undergo the clean energy transition by shifting to solar energy from energy generated by burning fossil fuels.
Protecting the environment is protecting society and future generations by extension. Each employee, student, and individual can be a hero of the environment by spreading the word about the climate emergency.
I have seen children, as young as four years old, collect their plastic trash to recycle. I have seen teenagers celebrate their birthdays by volunteering to plant trees. I have seen young Climate Reality Leaders are passionate about sharing their pro-environment initiatives. I have seen volunteers set up garage sales of pre-loved items that are still valuable, believing that another person’s trash can be another’s treasure.
There are countless ways to protect the environment and contribute to addressing the climate crisis.
Be a radical force of change and reduce garbage accumulation by cutting down on single-use plastic products and unnecessary consumption. Refusing to buy unnecessary things is the very first step. Remembering that there is no such place as “away” when we throw away things is another step.
Encourage reusing and repairing appliances to prolong their use and maximize the energy that went into their production. Shift to renewable energy sources like solar energy to cut the carbon emissions of your own households. Plant trees and mangroves or donate to organizations that do so as part of their advocacy. Lobby local government officials and lawmakers to prioritize pro-environment programs.
It is already September — heavy rains and typhoons, intensified by the climate crisis, are just around the corner. We need to prepare to take immediate action to help those who will be affected. But we must also invest more time and effort in deepening the awareness of our leaders and communities on the impacts of climate change and the urgent need to build community resilience.
Everyone can be a teacher and or a learner, and anyone can be a volunteer. Let us use the power of sharing and collective work and take care of one another, the environment, and the planet. After all, everyone can be a hero.
Climate Reality Leader Christianne ‘Kring’ Santos is passionate about social work, community development, and environmental advocacy. Realizing that we need to care for our common home while caring for people, she works as part of the Social Transformation team of WeGen Energy Philippines, which advocates the use of renewable energy and the teachings of Laudato Si in various communities in the Philippines. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT ELEVENTH HOUR
This article was originally published on The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ weekly column for the Manila Bulletin called Eleventh Hour.
This column serves a digital space to discuss our organization’s work on supporting the country’s just transition into a clean, affordable, and self-sufficient energy system; advancing sustainable urban mobility to highlight the issues of equity and democracy; and raising public awareness about the need to phase out single-use plastics. It also serves as a platform for Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders to share your stories, promote your climate initiatives, and provide critical insights to issues that matter to climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development.