It was plastered all over our nation’s news and even broke into the global reports: the inspiring strength to rise up, resurge and demand justice despite their tragic losses was displayed by the People Surge, an alliance of Super Typhoon Haiyan survivors and their supporters.
I have witnessed the increasing poverty in the most impacted areas; the thriving situation of families in evacuation sites; the children’s unfavorable situation in school tents; the stories of increasing number of trafficked women and children; the massive landlessness coupled with the No Dwelling Zone Policy imposed to fisher folks trying to rebuild their lives and livelihood in coastal areas; and the countless innocent lives lost and missing marked at the memorial mass grave sites. The sad reality breaks me into anger, helplessness, and rage– it had been a year of injustices.
But as we took part in the historic week of action at the ground zero, I witnessed resilience and heroism amidst adversity, hallmarks of the Philippines’ proud history and culture. We marched alongside 20,000 Haiyan survivors—farmers, fisher folk, students, artists, and even solidarity contingents from the international community—in the scorching heat of the Pacific climate, a perfect portrayal of the anger, but also of the love that bound us together.
The rage rang clear in the People Surge’s demands: Philippines president Noynoy Aquino must be held accountable for a full year of social, environmental, and climate injustice that Haiyan survivors faced after history’s strongest typhoon made landfall.
They also made clear their demands to “hold accountable the world’s top polluter countries, as well as their extractive and pollutive industries, for the unabated carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industries, and their continuing plunder of the environment in colonies and neo-colonies such as the Philippines.”
I am reminded with what Filipino poet Romeo Sandoval famously wrote: “We are angry, because we love. We love, and so our arms labor on.” The People Surge’s rage is clearly a labor of love—seeking to rebuild and reclaim justice today, in order to take back from polluters a resilient and just future, especially for the generations to come.
We let them know that they are not alone in this struggle. Over 3,000 messages of solidarity poured in, and a continuing relief mobilization through the Climate Relief Fund to sustain the Haiyan survivors’ continuing reconstruction and justice efforts. Donations are still welcome through the Climate Relief Fund, or encourage others to continue writing solidarity messages through our #RememberHaiyan page.
Alongside the weeklong activities in Tacloban was also the Climate Walk led by Climate Commissioner Naderev Sano, on their journey from Kilometer Zero to Ground Zero, a 1000km walk dedicated to the victims of Supertyphoon Haiyan and a global call for Climate Justice.
“The challenge is to put pressure for a concerted global response to climate change, while at the same time, for people in vulnerable countries like the Philippines to push for greater accountability and transparent leadership in their governments, because theirs is the burden to stir the country towards survival and resilience.” 350.org East Asia Digital Campaigner, Chuck Baclagon said in his blog as he shares his experience during the climate walk.
The rise of the Haiyan survivors is the rise of our nation. As the global movement continues to rise over the world’s big polluters, we can shift the tide towards a climate safe future.