© 2015 Lindsay Cope

Earth Day in the Philippines

Ronald Sanchez, the Municipal Agricultural Officer (my boss), adding his signature

Ronald Sanchez, the Municipal Agricultural Officer (my boss), adding his signature

Our Tarpaulin (we called it a "plea for action")

Our Tarpaulin (we called it a “plea for action”)

There is one day of the year that the world celebrates earth; Earth Day. Many environmental enthusiasts will take pause and remind you that every day is earth day though, and it is, so get with the program already!

Contributing to international celebrations on April 22, 2015, I organized a multi-sectoral climate change seminar for Pandan, Antique. The event included a lecture about climate change, covering the basics of why it’s happening and the consequences. We also screened The Island President, a wonderful film about Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and the island nation’s struggle to fight climate change at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Following the film, we presented a tarpaulin that we asked all the participants to sign. We will collect more signatures and then send the tarpaulin to Paris for the UNFCCC COP21 this year accompanied with a letter from the mayor and possibly communications from other municipalities to emphasize the urgency for action.

The Philippines is ranked number one most at risk country to climate change according to the Climate Risk Index. By preparing the tarpaulin and sending it to Paris, the community is taking an opportunity to make a statement to global leadership and to represent their country and other at risk nations against the disproportionate costs of climate change.

"Picture! Picture!" -- group photo with the participants and tarpaulin.

“Picture! Picture!” — group photo with the participants and tarpaulin.

Taking questions with Sir Dionela during the open forum

Taking questions with Sir Dionela during the open forum

The event went well. We started late, by about an hour, which I had anticipated. However, with a four hour program, people were getting restless. The venue was also changed last minute due to a basketball game that was scheduled for the morning. Due to the venue change I’m sure we lost some participants. While the film was long, I think the audience really grasped the gravity of climate change and the fact that it is a force that cannot be stopped, perhaps with enough global sacrifice it can be reversed, and that ultimately we must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Climate change is a sobering topic and I was delighted that we had a rousing question and answer forum following the presentations. During the discussion portion, I was invited to work with 4Ps, an organization under the social welfare department that works with the poorest of the poor families here in the Philippines. I will be helping to create and deliver modules on climate change with them. I am excited to expand my work in the community and am pleased that there was support and enthusiasm for my event on Wednesday.

Answering questions during the open forum

Answering questions during the open forum

Sir Dionela speaking to participants about climate change

Sir Dionela speaking to participants about climate change

Many people told me that this was their first time having an Earth Day celebration.  Usually celebrating Earth Day in the Philippines consists of participating in Earth Hour, a global campaign in which people turn off the lights and other electronics for one hour. Even in countries where energy is reliable, Earth Hour is a frivolous attempt to compel environmentalism.  In a country like the Philippines, where brown outs are common and can exceed an hour, Earth Hour really looses its significance.  I hope to make an even better event next year, and will focus the learning and activities on the youth.


“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” — Frank Lloyd Wright


* Photos courtesy of my dear friend and fellow PCV, Ashley Westgate



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