The coming Christmas season: Will Filipinos step up to the opportunity Yolanda presents?

I find it interesting, to say the least, that Filipinos are looking to the “developed” countries of the world to take responsibility for the purported climate changes that, according to Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III, are “playing havoc” on hapless developing countries like the Philippines. Over in Warsaw, Poland during a United Nations conference on climate, Philippine delegate Naderev “Yeb” Sano reportedly “broke down in tears” as he appealed for more “meaningful” outcomes in efforts to curb climate change.

But then…

Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges.

UN delegate Yeb Sano: Uwi na anak, let the grownups take over.

UN delegate Yeb Sano: Uwi na anak, let the grownups take over.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

So we need to be a bit more circumspect and less judgmental in our calls for “developed” nations to be more “responsible” for their actions.

After all, the Philippines cannot really claim to be a paragon of environmental awareness, much more a champion of mitigating action. The country is a vast dumping ground of millions of tonnes and billions of dollars worth of cheap plastic trinkets shipped thousands of kilometres on diesel-powered vessels from China. Most of these end up being processed via the nation’s decrepit waste management infrastructure. Its public transport system is propped up by millions of rustbucket jeepneys and tricycles that poison the air with their leaded exhaust. More importantly, the Philippines produces the ultimate source of all that environmental degradation in copious amounts — people

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy figures that 75 to 80 percent of the devastation can be blamed on the human factor.

Meteorologists point to extreme poverty and huge growth in population—much of it in vulnerable coastal areas with poor construction, including storm shelters that didn’t hold up against Yolanda.

The population of the devastated provincial capital of Tacloban City nearly tripled from about 76,000 to 221,000 in just 40 years.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that human activity does cause this “climate change” which then causes super-typhoons like Yolanda (a.k.a. Haiyan).

What then?

If Filipinos are really serious and sincere about contributing to the cause of curbing climate change (assuming that it is as it is claimed caused by human activity) and, presumably, reducing the incidence of appalling disasters such as that wreaked by Typhoon Yolanda, they should look to the coming Christmas season as a brilliant opportunity to walk their talk.

During the Holiday Season, Filipinos spend vast sums of money buying what are essentially useless consumer goods and consuming millions of tonnes of paper products to present them artistically all for the purpose of upholding a quaint tradition that traces its roots to ancient European pagan practices. At the moment, Facebook and Twitter timelines are flooded by an increasingly annoying torrent of charity appeals. Will there be a similar flood of appeals to buy sensibly and focus on the real point of it all when the Silly Season rolls in over the next several weeks?

That remains to be seen.

Filipinos, after all, are chronic point-missers. Indeed, there is very little evidence throughout their history that Filipinos take away valuable lessons whenever tens of thousands of their compatriots die in the routine “natural” disasters that hit their islands. Indeed, before we try to encourage others to pay their dues, we as a people should first settle our own debt to our immediate space — clean up all the garbage we dump in our own backyard, cure ourselves of our addiction to idiotic consumerism, and stop making babies we cannot feed (or protect when disaster strikes).

It’s simple. Really.

But then the Crying UN Delegate carries on

Sano said he hoped his fast [to protest what he called a lack of “meaningful outcome” in climate change efforts] would put pressure on delegates to agree a new loss and damage mechanism to compensate poor countries for damage from global warming. He also urged more action by developed nations to curb their emissions and raise climate aid towards a promised $100 billion a year from 2020, from about $10 billion a year in 2010-12.

Somebody fire this guy.

We need to send a real scientist to these U.N. conferences. Not some emo boy who uses emotional blackmail to extort more aid out of the governments of “developed” nations.

Filipinos need to grow up and take responsibility for their own future. We like crowing about our nation’s imagined greatness but shrink away whenever we need to step up to a call to face the obvious gap between that aspired-for greatness and the pathetic state of our society that, today, squarely looks us in the eye. If there is any real opportunity presented by this disaster, it lies in the chance to face that greatness gap and implement the hard changes that impact even our most cherished traditions and beliefs.

22 Replies to “The coming Christmas season: Will Filipinos step up to the opportunity Yolanda presents?”

  1. Thanks for speaking up against consumerism, benign0! Really, it has gone too far, most especially during the Christmas season, whose real meaning is eclipsed by all the silly stuff people buy. I understand that people want to show their affection for their loved ones during this season, but I think it’s going to be more meaningful if we buy them very simple and meaningful presents rather than all those meaningless stuff people give one another for Christmas. As for our UN delegate, I think his crying had to do with his emotional involvement in the matter as his family hails from Leyte, but I agree with you that we shouldn’t put all the blame on the developed countries and wash our hands from it all when we’re the ones who eagerly buy everything they produce. And yes, many of us don’t really care for our environment. Yes, I, too, think that what he did was blackmail, although he probably didn’t realize it (and I wonder where all that aid will go again if the developed countries agree to grant us that?)… Thanks for writing this, benign0!

  2. Global warming is a big hoax. It gives humans the illusion that they are in control of the planet.

    The earth is constantly changing regardless of humans. It has been warming up and cooling down all throughout its existence, humans or not. The global warming hoax is just there for people to point fingers at other people while failing to realize how to anticipate and adopt to situations presented.

    1. Does this mean that stopping carbon emissions(mainly produced by human industries) would make no impact whatsoever in the thinning of our ozone layer? That it would have thinned out anyway at the same given time frame regardless of the carbon emissions produce by the world?

      While you might be right to point out that the earth cools down and warms up naturally, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that humans didn’t have a hand on expediting it.

      Also I think cutting down the carbon emissions is one of the different ways people are trying to anticipate and adopt to the situation that climate change presents.

      1. The simple answer to your question is — NO it won’t! Don’t believe environmental activists. There is no definitive proof of a direct correlation between human activity and global warming. Is there a problem with rising global temperature? Possibly. But there is no empirical evidence to demonstrate that it’s THAT big a problem. You can attempt to lessen your carbon footprint but no studies have proven doing so will effectively change the climate. But if enough humans subscribe to this notion, it WILL definitely bring about the destruction of human civilisation.

      2. Look up Bjorn Lomborg. He once thought the same way about the human impact on climate change. He came to the inescapable conclusion that it’s mostly hysteria and hype (to give Al Gore something to do).

        1. But then wouldn’t that mean all we have learn about the Ozone layer and green house effect years back even before Al Gore is just a bunch of bull? (Nasa libro ko pa ng elementary yun ah.)

          I could also argue that there is no definitive proof of the notion that there is indeed NO direct correlation between human activity and global warming. But that would just be wasting your time.

          My point is, if those emissions do affect our atmosphere in a pretty bad way then leaving it unchecked might actually come and bite us in the future. I am no environmentalist but exercising caution is never a bad thing IMO.

      3. While i agree that humans, in a way could expedite the temperature change, you should also consider that carbon is a naturally occurring substance and that same as water, it goes through it’s own cycle. Released from the earth, if not by humans then by natural occurrence. Dispersed to the atmosphere, settles to earth, absorbed by plants, animals, goes back earth, including every effect it makes along the way, it will happen even without humans.

  3. There is zero environmental awareness in the Philippines. Forests are being stripped to provide the fuel for the poor. 81% of the country still burns charcoal. Almost all families have burn piles in their backyard that blows toxic smoke into neighbors’ windows. High sulfur diesel fumes spew in blue clouds from the exhausts of 85% of vehicles. 200p will buy one a “pass” at the local smog testing station. Aquino claims his people are carefully monitoring the pollution levels. Waterways that 20 years ago were relatively clean are now choked with human waste and plastic garbage. Aquino is bringing online more coal burning power plants. This pollution is killing people and it is homegrown. Stop the finger pointing and clean up our own backyard.

  4. Actually this crying guy upsets me. The Japanese didn’t blame anyone for the tsunami. Things like these happens, the only thing we can do is improve on how we deal with it. And apparently Philippines fails again in this department.

  5. That delegate’s “speech” will only further cement the Filipino’s reputation as one of the most emotional people in the world.

    1. But some Filipinos say, “We’re a happy people! Don’t be negative! We have to buy and buy goods to keep up our facade of happiness! Don’t ruin it! Be positive!”

  6. Philippine delegate, Yeb Sano, may had been coached by Kris Aquino, to appeal to the emotions of fellow delegates. To obtain massive foreign aids, and put a blame on the consciense of rich nation delegates. It is a classic Aquino political tactic to appeal to the emotions of gullible people.
    The only trouble is: these delegates, do not think like the gullible Filipino voters.
    We are not a nation of “Cry Babies”, as Yeb Sano, had demonstrated. We must take responsibilities of our own stupidities.
    The Energy of Typhoons is produced from the deep warm water in the ocean. Global warming ; or the production of too much Carbon Dioxide, in the atmosphere, maybe one of the causes. Pollution and denudation of the forests, may also be the one. The warmer, the deep ocean water near us. The more powerful; it produce as typhoons.
    We have polluted rivers, smoke belching jeepneys, denuded forests, and all kinds of pollutions on land and on the oceans.We do not enforce our building codes.
    I put the blame on: Aquino; Roxas; Binay; the Senators; the Congressmen; and other government officials , who are responsible on this matter.
    Anyway, if this Typhoon Yolanda’s calamity, will not give us a good lesson. I don’t know what other lesson, God, may do. So, that the messages will penetrate our thick skulls.

  7. Hey benign0..thanks for this website…I just wish more people would visit it. With a president like BS Aquino and a media irritant like his sister, Kris Aquino, I can imagine what the whole world thinks of us.

  8. I agree with the article’s criticism of the “Crying UN Delegate” who appealed for compensation for the worsening typhoons and flooding due to global warming.

    However, I disagree with what some readers took away from this: that man-made climate change is a hoax. The reference to “real scientists” misleads some readers into riding the bandwagon of Climate Change Denialism.

    No. Mainstream science is in agreement with the fact of man-made climate change. Look it up. All the major scientific associations around the world endorse this view, from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society to…even the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

  9. Agree on all counts @Benigno, including the about Sano! 🙂 Seriously, as we practically “nag” in our advocacy: everything clean and green should start at home: being eco-friendly, reduce, reuse, recycle, climate mitigation, disaster risk reduction, preparedness, management AND recovery! Climate-proofing, too! However, EDUCATION is the key. Still majority of our populace are ignorant about environmental issues and solutions, sustainability and basic climate change awareness. There is also a critical NEED to educate our so-called public servants, LGUs from Barangay level to towns, cities to national level about good governance! Sustainable development that protects the environment and people for climate RESILIENCE. However, we can always spread the word on “stepping up” the right way forward from disasters on the “future we want”: sustainable living with environmental risk! Thanks for your eye opener post! Will share in our FB Pages!


    I’m a Building Architect in a Japanese Petrochemical (Oil &Gas) Engineering company –doing projects with high level of strength, quality, safety standards and precautionary measures (Safe Haven & Cyclone/Blast resistant Building).

    In 2009 my family also was victim of Typhoon Ondoy wherein I almost died trying to rescue my wife & kids, because of my current work specialization & years of living in Japan – I sincerely want to help or share my knowledge on how to cope with the Hazard brought about by Climate Change.

    In 2010, I joined a Global Design Competition about a housing project that is well adapted for Climate Change (by Mr. Ilac Diaz) entitled “Design Against the Elements (Water or flooding, Wind or typhoons, Earth or quakes, & Fire)”.
    Professional entry fee of P1300 approx.

    Modesty aside my entry (no.135) was favorite during Quezon City Hall Exhibit and it was displayed first in front row facing directly the exhibit entrance. Honestly, I also studied other entries in the competition so I was pretty confident in winning and I was very excited to help our people & government by sharing my views, experience and ideas about Climate Change adaptation.

    A week prior to announcement of winners I was interviewed (recorded on video) by National Geography & Mr. Ilac Diaz. One of the questions was ” If you win, what will you do with the Prize money”. I did not directly answered the question and only said “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.

    On the day of announcement of winners, I was again interviewed (recorded on video) by TJ Manotoc @ my office. One of his questions was “Why did I join this competition?” and so I said again “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.

    To my surprise, my entry was not included in the winners and all 5 Final entries was done by foreigners. In my frustrations I immediately called Mr. Ilac Diaz to express my disappointment & questioned the results. I told him that cost factor only constitute 15% of judging criteria when I easily get 85% in others factors. Also, competition is not about Low Cost Housing.

    I eventually understood that this Design Competition – although global did not generate interest & funds because very few joined (approx. 150 entries) with very few sponsor/support from private sector & new government (Pres. Aquino). I only wish they had approached me directly about waving or giving the Prize money to charity. Hence, my efforts and motivation in joining was not entirely fulfilled because without the win I cannot prove or convince people. And people may not interpret my Vision correctly.
    Every year (in the last 3-4 yrs), I always feel sad about news of disaster/calamities in our country and how our people are dying or suffering and how our government is struggling to cope with the situation.

    Hazards brought about by Climate Change & our Geography is imminent and will worsen @ a bigger scale & interval. Still people/government may not take it seriously until they actually face death brought by nature’s wrath.

    How I wish can be heard and discussed my ideas with our leaders and other experts in Design for CLIMATE CHANGE adaptation/mitigation.

    May God Bless & Spare us all………….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.