typhoon glenda and climate change

In the evening of July 15, through television broadcast, the government suspended classes in all levels and suspended work in all government agencies in Metro Manila and soon to be affected provinces. They advised everyone to stay safe at home or get ready for evacuation. Because according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Typhoon Glenda will arrive in the morning of the following day which already brought wreckage and chaos in the Bicol region.  Where we live was one of the target places of Typhoon Glenda.

Waking up in the morning of July 16, Typhoon Glenda was already making noise outside our home. Strong winds, heavy rains destroyed the banana tree that my father planted in this vacant lot beside our house . The surrounding outside our house was in disarray. The roof of our neighbor’s house, an informal settler, was blown away by the storm. (To help them recover, my father gave our neighbor some leftover yero and tools to repair their house. God is good because it wasn’t the whole roof, just a portion of it.)

Typhoon Glenda left at noontime, exactly what PAGASA predicted. I’m glad that PAGASA are doing their job better now unlike before. And if we suffered, we only suffered with no supply of electricity. Though work was suspended and we get to sleep more, we didn’t enjoy it because of the inconveniences of having no electricity. But we have running water, thank God. And when I finally got to watch TV and checked the news, I saw this man being interviewed sharing what happened to him and his family, his house behind him completely destroyed. I thought he was brave just talking about his misfortune in front of the camera, not showing any emotion, but while he was talking with what seemed like a deadpan expression, he suddenly broke down in tears. (If it happened to me, I would cry, too.)

If there is one thing you should know about the Philippines, well, we are highly susceptible to typhoons, near to the Pacific Ocean where 30% of tropical cyclones are formed which, according to PAGASA, 70% of these enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility. We’ve been visited by an average of 19 to 20 typhoons every year. Many have died because of these typhoons. And yet we keep on surviving. And they say it is because of our resilience that is innate in us, Filipinos.

But here is the bad news, there are more to come. There are more typhoons to come if we continue to conduct our business as usual—illegal logging, smoke belching, improper disposal of garbage, etc.

Last December 2013, we organized this forum called “Human Rights and Climate Change,” just a few weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit our country. It is considered to be the strongest and deadliest typhoon that destroyed the province of Tacloban and its nearby areas. During the forum, where I was in-charge of its documentation, one of the speakers (a very excellent speaker, I must say) was Ms. Rina Maria P. Rosales, Senior Resource Economic Specialist actively involved in environmental projects, shared that there is only one thing to help us combat these series of typhoons—protect our biodiversity. This is the only thing.  

“Why do we want to protect biodiversity? Because this is what is going to give us resilience. This is what we need to be resilient in facing climate change. And that’s why protection and conservation are on top of the list when we’re talking about long-term adaptation measures. To face climate change, it’s really all about protecting and conserving our ecosystems and our natural resources,” Rosales said.

She also shared that “we need to have more coral reefs, we need to have more mangroves because that is what is going to protect us in the long term. There are engineering solutions that have been introduced like sea walls. Unfortunately this is really not a long term solution.”

It’s an advocacy that they are trying to popularize because “Seawalls can protect you but only for a while. Look at Japan. Japan has put up so many seawalls and they’re actually reverting back now to getting rid of those seawalls,” Rosales revealed.

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