Greenpeace Southeast Asia

No Tsunami by Jenny Tuazon

February 27, a tsunami alert was raised all over the country.  Chile had just been hit by a high intensity earthquake, and we were in Baler for a climate awareness engagement, how timely…  Together with my partner and co-solargen member Miguel Lopez, we joined the third batch of coordinators, facilitators and participants of the Ayos-A! (Aurora Youth for Arts and Sports) workshops at the Baler Central School from February 25-28, 2010.

The talk, which was the highlight during the first day, was aimed at giving climate and energy consciousnesses to 400 participants and, to fueling their responsibility for the environment by making them more aware about the problem and urging them to be more active by presenting them with solutions which they can and should practice.  Different activities were intertwined throughout the presentation to truly engage the participants on climate change.  We had them draw what they thought of it (climate change), showed video presentations, did a carbon quiz to roughly know their carbon footprint, as well as grouped them for the “freeze frame” activity, which challenged them to apply and show what they’ve learned, creatively.  Though the talk was over and days following were set for their arts and sports workshops, we were determined to keep them engaged with the climate issue.  We set up a photo exhibit to let them “encounter” and better understand climate change at their own time.  We also prepared a freedom banner to allow them to express their thoughts on what their leaders should do with regard to environmental and climate issues.  Our days continued to be productive and interactive as the response from the youth grew strong.  With only a day left, we were very much looking forward to doing the climate pledge with them.  But that night news came about a possible tsunami.  Though we were optimistic, thoughts about the final day were accompanied with bits of worry.

The morning we arrived at the school the participants were still very enthusiastic despite the tsunami alert. It was a special day for everyone, it was the culminating day and they’ll be showcasing what they’ve learned from their arts and sports facilitators.  The program began with the climate pledge wherein the youth of Aurora committed to protect the planet and to practice energy consciousness and responsibility. We then followed it through with a cleanup of the school grounds.  But a few minutes after we started, we were all called back as a representative of the NDCC had to inform us of the status of the forecasted calamity and instruct us of the necessary evacuation.  After the whole group gathered for a prayer of hope and optimism, everybody began wrapping up the whole program; facilitators gathered their students, coordinators gave transportation allowances to the participants and collected their journals as Miguel and I packed up our exhibit materials. With time to spare, we invited them to place their thumb marks on the pledge banner to seal their commitment.  Slowly the pledge was filled.  Despite the news of the tsunami, the kids continued to show their energy with smiles on their faces and expressed their gratitude for a very meaningful experience. We evacuated the area around lunch time.

Three o’clock came and thank-the-spirit-of-the-earth that no tsunami came.  Of course everyone was glad not only for their safety but the safety of the participants who are residents of Aurora and some of Baler itself.  In spite of the tsunami threat and the calling off of the culminating program, everyone can say that the whole event, starting from day one until the time we left Baler Central School, was rich with a new sense of awareness, experience, dialogue, learnings and especially friendship.  We left each other saying “AYOS-A!” We wish to express our gratitude to the participants (love namin kayo ni kuya Miguel), coordinators (Bai & Alpha), Carlo & Irene, co-facilitators, staff of Bahia and the locals who have made life just a whole lot sweeter.

Mitch Rosal (Solar Generation – Pilipinas)

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