Beautiful Tacloban In The Heart of Fight for Climate Change

Updated: April 22, 2021, 7:32 A.M.

Mildred German

Sign in Tacloban. (Photo: Mildred German)

First held on April 22, 1970, Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It is celebrated globally, with a wide range of events and advocacy on environmental issues affecting the world today.

As the Philippines celebrate the 500th anniversary of the colonization of the Philippines, this is also a great opportunity to examine the environmental challenges of the Waray Waray people in the Visayan region, the impacts of colonization against native peoples, and the climate crisis the Filipino nation faces.

The Paris Agreement / Accord de Paris and the UN Climate Change Conference

The adoption of the Paris Agreement / Accord de Paris highlighted the devastation of the Super Typhoon Haiyan that hit Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines in 2013. With the nearly 10,000 dead and more missing bodies following the havoc, the people of the Philippines and Filipino delegates immediately demanded action at the United Nations (UN) Climate Meeting.

In addition to over 10,000 dead and thousands missing, four million people were also displaced. The Super Typhoon Haiyan that hit Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines on November 8, 2013, is in modern meteorological records, the deadliest storm, which also became the strongest landfalling typhoon cyclone ever recorded as it crossed the Visayas on November 7-8, 2013.

It took the Philippine government five days to actually respond to the disaster, about nearly a week. Weeks turned into months, and some areas still have no electricity, no internet connection, no phone, and no relief.

It was only then, after the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan, finally, that the UN was prompted to act on climate change after many years of debates on the issue and to oblige every nation to uphold their commitments to reduce their carbon footprints.

It has been five years now since  the Paris Accord and recent disasters brought on by five simultaneous typhoons in November 2020 has again devastated the Philippines. It has declared a climate emergency and has “renewed calls for wealthy nations to be held accountable for the climate crisis that is being acutely felt in the developing world.”

Home of a warrior society, the ancestral lands and territory of the Waray Waray People are not only known for strong typhoons and raging seas, but also home of history of militant resistance against Spanish, Japanese, U.S. and Chinese imperialism.

Up to this present day, the lands of the Waray Waray people are again a howling wilderness -just this weekend, another typhoon, Typhoon Surigae (Bising) battered the Waraynon areas in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. Typhoon Surigae is the first super typhoon of the season in the West Pacific.

As the country celebrates the 500th anniversary of the colonization of the Philippines, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts of climate change, the Waray Waray people’s continues to fight for the environment  no matter how strong the raging storms are.

Earth Day: First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EARTHDAY.ORG including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. Wikipedia

A message by Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, former Executive Secretary at NASSA/Caritas Philippines:

“In our attempt to address the present ecological crisis, we need to reckon with a more fundamental criterion for transformation – i.e. how to change the very fabric of our moral-ethical consciousness so that it will be more oriented to the common good, intergenerational justice, integrity of creation and global solidarity. Only by having integral and ecologically sound ethical framework that we can set the stage for creating a truly sustainable future.”

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